Teams will attempt to build on successful USPRO weekend on the challenging new Philly course
The Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies men’s and women’s team head this weekend to Philadelphia for the inaugural Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic taking place Sunday, June 2. The race, which is the successor of the classic International Philadelphia Cycling Championship follows an incredibly successful USPRO National Championship for the orange and black, which saw Tom Zirbel capture the national title in the time trial discipline, and Jade Wilcoxson captured the stars and stripes in the road race.
The Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic takes over from the Philadelphia International Championship race, a fixture of American racing for nearly 30 years. The new edition of the race will continue the large lap circuit race format, including ten trips up the iconic, 17 percent grade Manayunk Wall for the men and 5 laps for the women. One significant and race-changing difference in 2013 is the finish line. Moving the finish to the top of Manayunk Wall for the first time, the win becomes a test of climbing prowess, as opposed to the tradition of an all-out field sprint on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Also a first, the men and women will see equal prize money at the race, splitting a $60,000 pot. It is one of the most lucrative one-day races in America for both the men and women.
“Our team is thrilled that the race in Philadelphia was saved. The US racing circuit would not have been the same without a big race in Philadelphia on the first Sunday in June,” said Performance Director Jonas Carney. “We are also excited about the new course and the finish line on top of the Manayunk Wall. This should make the race much more dynamic and force the teams to use a different strategy to suit the new course. It should be an interesting day, as nobody quite knows how the race will play out. The shortened course, the finish line on Manayunk, and an enormous lineup of 25 teams will all have an effect. For that reason, we are bringing a well-balanced team to suit different possible outcomes.”
The men’s team brings a roster bolstered with a selection of the orange and black’s top talent, including National Criterium Champion Ken Hanson – fourth at the 2011 Philly race, USPRO TT champion Tom Zirbel, perennial top ten finisher Alex Candelario, Beijing Olympian Mike Friedman, Jesse Anthony, Chad Haga, Scott Zwizanski, and Marsh Cooper.
“Friedman and Zwizanski should be fired up as usual as they are both from Pennsylvania,” added Carney. “Those guys love to race in Philadelphia as it’s like a hometown race for them.”
Native son Scott Zwizanski is traditionally one of the most popular racers on the road near his hometown of West Chester. Fans have scrawled Zwizanski’s name across the pavement for years.
The women will be lead by Jade Wilcoxson, who will look to repeat on her successes in Chattanooga to take her first win in the stars and stripes jersey, backed by one of the fastest squads in America. Jade will be supported by Lauren Hall, who took second in Chattanooga, 2011 NRC Women’s Champion Janel Holcomb, London Olympian Joelle Numainville, 2011 Canadian Criterium Champion Leah Kirchmann and 2012 Canadian Women’s Road Race Champion Denise Ramsden.
“The US side of the team, Jade, Lauren and Janel, who are riding the high of last weekends national championship victory are joined by the Canadian powerhouse trio of Joelle, Leah and Denise,” said Women’s Director Rachel Heal “and so I am very confident that we are bringing one of the strongest women’s teams I have ever seen to the Philly Cycling Classic”