Started in 1985, the Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic is one of the oldest and most prestigious one day races in the US. The race has changed names and courses over the years, but the one thing that has remained a constant is “Manayunk Wall”, a 17-percent grade hill through the Philadelphia neighborhood of Manayunk. The finish-line in past editions of the race was staged several miles beyond the “Wall”. This year for the first time, the organizers staged the finish-line at the top of Manayunk Wall, shaking up the idea that the Philly Classic is a “sprinter’s race.”
A small group of four riders escaped early in the race, but without a good mix of teams represented in the breakaway, the peloton brought them back half way through the race. Once the race came back together, a large group of 18 riders attacked the field on the fourth time up the Manayunk Wall. Our very own Oscar Clark was right there leading the charge of escapees. Throughout the second half of the race, the breakaway split into smaller groups and reformed several time. Each new restructuring of the break took its toll on the weaker riders causing the breakaway to dwindle down to only seven riders. Oscar Clark put in a huge attack on the ascent up Lemon Hill near the end of the race, but his breakaway companions managed to claw their way back to him on the descent. With only a two kilometers left in the race, the peloton finally captured the breakaway.
Back in the peloton, the rest of the team patiently conserved their strength for the final miles of the race. Once the breakaway was captured our riders moved to the front of the race as one unit. The plan was to launch both Joey Rosskopf and Joe Lewis at the bottom of Manayunk Wall. The team perfectly positioned Joey and Joe for the finale going into the last corner. Knowing that it’s around a two minute effort from the bottom of the wall to the top and that it’s impossible to sprint for two minutes, Joey perfectly timed his sprint to start at the 500 meters to go mark. Joey roared past the riders who started their efforts too early and crossed the finish-line in third place, with Joe close behind him in tenth.
This past weekend the US Pro Championships were held in Chattanooga, TN for the first time. While we loved having the race in our hometown of Greenville over the last several seasons, we weren't too upset about the race moving locations. Chattanooga isn't too far away, plus it’s a beautiful city nestled in the Appalachian Mountains with some fantastic climbing roads.
A big result at US Pro would have been great for the team, but Thomas Craven's main goal was for the guys to experience what it's like to travel between continents and time zones with back to back races. The guys had just finished up three weeks of successful racing in Europe and then they had to zip back to the US for the Championships several days later. All of the fatigue from travel and racing took its toll on the boys, with four of the guys getting sick. However, the team rallied together and still gave it their best shot in the Time Trial and the Road Race.
Going into Paris Arras, the third and final race of the team’s first European campaign, the guys were ready to take on the world. The stage win at Fleche du Sud and the win at Puivelde had proven that they could win against their euro counterparts.
Stage one of Paris Arras is a 179-kilometer dash from Margny-lès-Compiègne to the city of Arras in the northern Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France. Just 25km into the stage, Joey Rosskopf and 17 other riders formed a breakway off the front. Most of the big teams were represented in the move, so the peloton was content to let them get away. The tough rolling terrain of the course and battles for the KOM and Sprint points caused the break to slowly shed riders along the way.
Being only a two-day stage race it was important to gain time on your opponents. At 30 kilometers from the finish the attacks in the breakaway began. The strong survivors of the breakaway were unwilling to let another ride gain a single second. Once they hit the five-kilometer mark, Joey had had enough. He put his head down and turned the afterburners on, rocketing away from the break. In a span of five kilometers Joey put 19 seconds on the next guy behind him and rolled across the finish line with no one else in sight. Joey’s efforts earned him the win and the yellow jersey.
The team has worked several times this season to protect Joey’s General Classification position in a stage race. However, each time another team has always been in the lead, so the responsibility of controlling the race has always been left to the leader’s team. This time it was the Hincapie Devo Team who had the burden of controlling the race. They had to take charge and protect Joey’s yellow jersey.
50 kilometers into Stage Two, a breakaway had built up a one minute, fourty second gap on the field. The guys sensed the danger and the entire team went to the front of the peloton and spent the next 130 kilometers slowly reeling in the escaped riders. The entire time rain and wind pummeled the team, but they were not fazed by the elements. As they neared town the breakaway was captured and the sprinters’ teams began taking their turns on the front. The team had done an amazing job of protecting Joey’s lead and he safely rolled across the finish line with the yellow jersey intact. The team had won their first stage race plus won the Team Competition for the third stage race in a row!
This first European campaign had exceeded all expectations for the riders and staff. At Fleche du Sud they were award a Most Competitive Rider Jersey, won a stage, got third overall and won the Team General Classification. At Puivelde they astonished the Belgians with the win. At Paris Arras they won a stage, the overall classification and another Team Award. It has been an amazing trip and the team is now ready to return to the US where they can use their racing winning form against their countrymen at the US National Championships in Chattanooga.
After a successful weekend of racing at Fleche du Sud, the team wanted to try their hand at a little Belgian style kermesse race. They traveled to the town of Sint-Niklaas, Belgium for the 178-kilometer Puivelde Kermis. The race is held on a 9 kilometer circuit through town with the riders completing 19 laps for a total of 171 kilometers.
110 kilometers into the kermesse, the early breakaway of five riders was caught by the field. More attacks came and Robin Carpenter found himself in a move containing the reigning Cyclo-Cross World Champion Sven Nys. The new breakaway built up a lead of 40 seconds on the splintering field. With four kilometer to go, Robin attacked his companions through a narrow, technical section of the course. The two other remaining riders looked to each other to pull Robin back, but their moment of hesitation gave Robin all the advantage he needed to stay away. Robin had a five second gap which he held all the way to the finish.
Watch the post-race interview below to hear from Robin what those final kilometers were like.