Russian wins Phila. Cycling Championship; German wins 5th Liberty Classic

Posted: June 04, 2012

Ina Teutenberg woke up Sunday morning with a stomachache. She had a tough time sitting up and worried that she wouldn't be able to keep down Saturday's plate of vegetables.

When she got to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, she looked at the teammates she has trusted all season.

"I'm a bit worried," she told them. "I don't feel good."

Two hours after uttering those words, Teutenberg crossed the same thick white line on The Parkway that began her race. Only this time, her hands were high above her head as she celebrated her fifth win in the 17th running of the Liberty Classic.

In the men's Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, Team Type 1 put together a plan for the 28th edition of the 124-mile race Saturday evening. And under beautiful conditions, the team executed it to perfection. Well, near perfection.

The team plan called for climber Kiel Reignen to win the King of the Mountain title as the cyclist who consistently made it fastest up the treacherous 285-foot Manayunk Wall. Check.

The group planned on placing cyclists first and second overall. Check and check.

The problem? Aldo Ilesic was supposed to win the race and Alexander Serebryakov was supposed to take second. Instead, the 24-year-old Serebryakov crossed the finish line a hair before Ilesic. Oops.

"That's a good problem," team general manager Vassili Davidenko said. "We'll take that any day. It was a very good race for us."

This was Serebryakov's first trip to Philadelphia. He can head home to Russia a happy man who is $9,800 richer.

But the win didn't come without a strategic - and admittedly a bit lucky - late run.

With 15 miles to go, Serebryakov and Ilesic were in the middle of a large pack 21/2 minutes behind the leaders.

Then they began their push. With nine miles to go, they were 1 minute, 15 seconds behind. With three miles remaining, they were 20 seconds behind. And with a mile to go, the group had caught the leaders and made a final sprint ahead of the pack down the straightaway.

"I was a little bit nervous that we started our run too late," Serebryakov said through a translator. "But our strategy worked well. Our team was very strong today."

Serebryakov crossed the finish line after 4 hours, 32 minutes, and 6 seconds of racing. That's nearly an hour-and-a-half less than last year's winner needed after race officials changed the course from a 156-mile trek to 124 miles.

The change altered the strategy of teams and favored sprinters, and the large pack was wary of letting a group of racers make a breakaway early, unlike the case in previous years.

The women's course, though, remained the same 57.6 miles. It was the perfect distance - and the perfect track - for Teutenberg, who can place her oversize champion's check next to those from her 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2010 victories.

The 38-year-old German conserved energy riding behind teammate Trixi Worrack for much of the race. Then, less than a half-mile from the finish, she made her move to seal another title. And all thoughts of a stomach sickness were exchanged with the electric feeling of a win.

"It was kind of like Kobe [Bryant] or [Michael] Jordan," she said of overcoming her illness. "I started to feel better as I rode. This is the crown jewel of North American cycling. You always want to be 100 percent for this one."

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