Trek Women
June 9, 2008

More Than Toasty Tour Event

Yesterday Carla and I went into Philly to see the Pro Cycling Tour Philadelphia International Championship (156 miles).   It is the final event in the Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling which includes two other races in Pennsylvania.  The day also included the women's race - the Commerce Bank Liberty Classic (57.6 miles).

Carla and I were there in time for the start but we positioned ourselves around one of the loops in the early part of the course, but away from the start/finish line.   The men's race was 156 miles and included 10 large loops and then 3 smaller loops.  The large loop included what is know as Manayunk Wall - a 17% grade hill that they would hit 10 times.  The women's race was 57.6 miles long and was 4 loops, including the Manayunk Wall.

Complicating the whole day was the extreme heat wave we are having.  The race started at 9 AM and the temp was already around 80 degrees.  Carla and I stayed for about four hours of the race.  Around the 3 1/2 hour mark, the announcer said that the air temperature was measuring 91 degrees and the asphalt temp had just been recorded at 120 degrees which was melting the glue in the racers tires.  Often times the only breeze we felt was when the racers whizzed by us - I can't imagine how they were able to race for over 6 hours.  Early on - I think it was into the 3rd lap - a group of 7 broke away from the field.  At one point the group had a lead of almost 9 minutes but that lead shrunk each successive lap.  The men's race was won by Matti Breschel of Team CSC in 6:14:47 which was a record for the longest race in the 24 year history of this event.  Clearly, the heat was a HUGE factor.  Out of the 190 men who started the race, only 81 finished.

The women's race started about 10 minutes after the men's so we had great viewing of both groups.  There were just over 100 women competing in the race and we were able to see Kristin Armstrong (of cycling fame not the ex of Lance - confusing isn't it?), way out in front of the pack.  Chantal Beltman of Team High Road won the race in 2:28:52 only 6 seconds ahead of the next woman.   

It was amazing to watch the racers whiz by us at such speed and be able to all race so closely together.  For awhile we stood directly across from the "feed zone" which was a stretch of road where the cyclists crew support stood and handed them water bottles and food as they passed.  Support cars with spare bikes, wheels and other supplies followed all the racers around the course.

At one point we moved to the start/finish area and got to watch the juniors race they had.  It was a field of 7-10 who did a 3 1/2 loop full sprint course.  On each lap the first three racers across the line were awarded varying amounts of point depending on position.  (That was the point at which is was around 91 degrees- I don't know how they were able to sprint).  After that, they had a lot of youth, sponsored by a local bike shop, do small group, short sprints.  It was done to expose kids to cycling and get them involved in the day.

It was a really exciting day - seeing what those riders do had me all fired up to come home and ride, although the heat wave of over 100 degree temps isn't going to break until Wednesday.  I'm hoping to hold onto the momentum until then. . . .

-Jen

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