The Philadelphia Cycling Classic has been one of the biggest women’s races in the United States for well over two decades. A World Cup for five years (1998-2001, 2015), Philly was an obvious inclusion in the UCI Women’s WorldTour. The one-day American classic covers six laps of a 19.8 kilometre circuit that includes climbs over Lemon Hill and Strawberry Manson. Each lap takes the peloton over Manayunk, which has served as the race’s start and finish for the last three years.
“It’s kind of like the Flèche of America,” explains Evie Stevens.
She should know. Stevens won La Flèche Wallonne in 2012. Then she went back-to-back in Philly in 2013-2014. Stevens lined up as a pre-race favourite the following season but teammate Lizzie Armitstead took the top step.
“Three years ago, the finish moved from the middle of the city, which is flat, to Manayunk, which is a hilltop top finish,” said Stevens. “And Boels-Dolmans riders have won the last three years. It gives us confidence going into Sunday’s race.”
Armitstead will not line up to defend her title, but Boels-Dolmans’ small team is mighty even without the world champion. In Women’s WorldTour leader Megan Guarnier and Canadian time trial champion Karol-Ann Canuel, Stevens rightly notes the team has three potential winners. Kasia Pawlowskia rounds out the team of four.
“We only had four last year,” noted Stevens. “It worked out for us. We have a good team, a strong team. We’ve all been riding really well.”
The Philadelphia Cycling Classic circuit is spectator-friendly. Fans that crowd the course have the opportunity to see the women’s peloton sped by six times or twice an hour. Unsurprisingly, the Manayunk Wall is the prime position to spectate.
“The fans along the Wall create an amazing atmosphere,” said Stevens. “It’s super loud and super exciting. And the race is in Philly – an American city – so that’s pretty cool, too.”
Not in Philadelphia? You can still catch all the action. The Philadelphia Cycling Classic will be live streamed from
start to finish. The women’s race begins at 12:30PM EDT (6:30PM CET) on Sunday (5 June) with an anticipated finish around 3:30PM EDT (9:30PM CET).
“One of the problems this year is that there’s been less live coverage of Women’s WorldTour races than we had anticipated, so when everyone has the opportunity to watch us race, I think that’s exciting,” said Stevens. “Every time up the wall is tactical, and because we go up the wall six times, this isn’t a race where you’d want to tune in only for the finish.”
Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team for Philadelphia Cycling Classic: