Stevens wins Philly Classic; Brit riders do well

National Road Race and Individual Time Trial Champion Alison Powers (United Healthcare) blasted off from the start line into what looked as though it might prove to be a race-winning solo break on the 96.5km Philadalphia circuit, pushing a one-minute wedge between herself and the group for two laps from the total five. It delighted the fans and seeing the logos on her jersey out in front of the race for so long will no doubt have gone down well with her team sponsors, but so early in the race and with five ascents of the Manayunk Wall (with an maximum gradient of 17%) it was also doomed to failure – though not before the 34-year-old had secured the Queen of the Mountains and Sprint titles.

Fleche Wallone Femmes, CDM 04, 2012, UCI World Cup Road, women

Evelyn Stevens (image: Specialized-Lululemon/Velocio Sports)

Once Powers was safely back in the fold, the rival teams began testing one another to see who was going to be a threat going into the final laps. Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-Lululemon) was favourite for victory: she won here last year and, three weeks ago, showed that she’s in excellent form when she won the ITT at the PanAmerican Championships. Rather than trying for a spectacular solo win, she rode at the front of the peloton and waited for a sprint finish – a risky move because, although she’d be in with a chance, she was also going to have to deal with some extremely stiff competition. When the finish line drew close, her main rivals were Lex Albrecht (Canada NT), Lauren Hall (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Alena Amialiusik (Astana-BePink).

However, Stevens is a rider who personifies the qualities a rider needs to win: she’s got the head, the legs and the aggression. Just as she has been so many times in her six years of racing, she was the strongest in the sprint but expertly measured out her reserves in order to stay fractionally ahead of Albrecht, Hall, Amialiusik and the other riders at the front of the 39-strong lead group to retain her title.

Powers, suffering from her earlier efforts, led in a group of three 1’59” later and took 47th place. The two British riders in the event, United Healthcare team mates Sharon Laws and Hannah Barnes, were 8th and 27th respectively, both matching Stevens’ time. Irish rider Olivia Dillon (Colavita-Fine Cooking), among the oldest riders at 41, was 22nd.

Top Ten
1 Evelyn STEVENS (Specialized-Lululemon) 2h28’57”
2 Lex ALBRECHT (Twenty16 & Co.) ST
3 Lauren HALL (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) ST
4 Alena AMIALIUSIK (Astana-BePink) ST
5 Flavia OLIVEIRA (FCS Zigne p/b Mr Restore) ST
7 Mara ABBOTT (United Healthcare) ST
8 Sharon LAWS (United Healthcare) ST
9 Joanne KIESANOWSKI (Tibco-To The Top) ST
10 Mandy HEINTZ (Fearless Femme) ST
Full result