The cool cloudy morning looked potentially ominous, but the US Pro’s lucky charm worked once again to insure a rainless race. Almost 200 women started the race, making this the largest field ever at the Liberty Classic. They raced four laps
on the 14.4-mile circuit which features the infamous ascent of Manayunk Wall as well as the two small climbs
up Strawberry Mansion and Lemon Hill. Defending champion, Quark racer Lyne Bessette had her own little black cloud on race day. She suffered several mishaps including a mechanical requiring a total bike change, a double flat, and a crash. In the end Petra Rossner proved that the she owns Liberty Classic race, sealing her place in history by taking her seventh win.
The race field was rich with talent, both with well-known international racers and surprisingly strong fresh faces. The morning of the race we ran into several Colavita Olive Oil racers preparing to head down to the course. Shannon Hutchison has been coming into perfect form placing third at Roswell and second at the CSC Invitational. The Colavita Olive Oil team as a whole is developing into a major player in the North American racing circuit. They ride together extremely effectively, and once they form the train to deliver their sprinter to the line (a la the Kelly Cup) – watch out!
Shannon Hutchison, photo by Chris OBrien
It was a very chilly, damp morning and most racers had opted for arm and leg warmers plus jackets as the milled about the start area. Not everyone though – Aquafina racer Katie Lamdben was stylishly sporting the latest in cycling wear: flashy flip-flops accentuated with bright red nail polish on her toes!
Katie Lambden, photo by Chris OBrien
T-Mobile pro Lynn Gaggioli has been riding solo for T-Mobile at many recent races, as the team was split between American and European campaigns and racing very effectively in both. Lynn is a very savvy racer, and her tactical proficiency has enabled her to be victorious in several stage races this year even riding solo. The T-Mobile team consistently took podium places in the Tour de l’Aude and Greater Montreal, and was a serious favorite coming into the Liberty Cup.
Lynn Gaggioli, photo by Chris OBrien
How the race unfolded
I was fortunate enough to ride along in the Victory Brewing team car throughout the race. This unique perspective enabled me to watch the race unfold, while listening to the official race radio. The women’s race was hard and fast, very fast. No “piano” start for them, they blasted off from the start only slowing a bit once they were along the river, preparing to tackle Manayunk the first time. Genesis-Scuba set the pace up on the first climb, with Candice Blickem and Tina Mayola-Pic leading the charge! Several riders were placed in difficulty by the fast pace of the first climb, left behind as the caravan kept pace with the peloton.
Manayunk Wall, photo by Chris OBrien
The descent was fast and furious! Rona racer Erinne Willock took the lead and garnered a 100-meter advantage going into the hard double right hand turns before a quick left onto Manayunk Avenue. There the peloton reabsorbed her into the pack, strung out single file as they flew down the bumpy avenue and back onto Ridge drive. The maps simply do not do justice to the tricky turns on this descent. We kept up with the peloton as they hammered down the backside of Manayunk at speeds of 45 mph, ripping around the corners, bottoming out on some of the dips and storm drains. Talk about a wild ride! Imagine careening down the same on two wheels?
The front of the field split briefly, with fifteen women off the front, but as the caravan was waved forward to the by the Commissar we dragged the second pack back into the fold. By the time we left Strawberry Meadows about a quarter of the field had been dropped. On Lemon Hill the first misfortunes struck. Victory Brewing’s Johanna Buick suffered double punctures and Quark’s Lyne Bessette was calling for a totally new bike.
Quark’s Megan Elliott and Victory Brewing’s Kristen Robbins drop back to escort their teammates back to the lead group. Their little train dragged another ten dropped riders back into the action as well. But it was obvious that if these gals were dropped on the first pass over Manayunk, even though they caught back onto the peloton before the end of the first lap it was unlikely that they would last the race.
The second pass along the river, and coming towards us on the opposite side of the road is the men’s race! There’s a break away with perhaps 15 riders in it – looks like most of the major teams have men sitting in as we fly past each other.
Gina Grain radios the team car to have a bottle for her in the feed, she has lost one. The Victory Brewing D.S. Mike calls for the girls to lead Gina to the front, and the next thing we hear across the race radio is “Victory Brewing is setting the pace at the front of the peloton.” Towards the rear of the peloton there is a crash! Four riders down, a Quark racer, a Colavita, and Genesis Scuba among them but as no VB gals are in the pileup we motor on with the peloton. The downed riders are quickly up, dusted off and working their way back up through the caravan to catch the peloton.
As the peloton reaches the top of Manayunk the second time it is Rona and Safi Pasta setting the pace. Erinne Willock of Rona is first over the climb again, looking like a serious contender for the Queen of the Mountain competition! Crash victims Iona Wynter (Genesis Scuba) and Tracy Sproule (Colavita Olive Oil) have powered back into the peloton just as the first riders begin the descent. The two Quark crashers are fighting hard, trying to regain the peloton. Defending Champion Lyne Bessette is one of them! A bike change and a crash in the first half of the race? Luck is not smiling on Lyne today. The crowds are cheering them on.
Erinne Willock, photo by Chris OBrien
A T-Mobile racer, Lara Kroepesch, takes the lead during a blisteringly fast descent. A gap opens up, she has 15 seconds, then 30! The peloton seems content to let her go at this point, and no chase ensues. By Strawberry Meadows the Quark crashees are back in the lead group. Lemon Hill passes uneventfully and on to the feed zone, but the peloton has the hammer down and the offerings are ignored as they fly down the road single file. Rona and T-Mobile are off the front setting the pace now. There’s a $500 sprint bonus just ahead, which makes slowing for the feed less attractive.
Crash! Four more riders down hard. Two Colavita, but again no Victory Brewing so we continue on. T-Mobile rider Lara Kroepesch is suffering, her earlier solo effort seems to have taken its toll. Mike instructs Emma Rickards to drop back to the car and collect bottles for her teammates. Four bottles onboard and she starts powering up through the caravan to make deliveries to her grateful teammates.
Team Cervelo’s Rhonda Guzda tries to make a break and gains a short-lived gap of 8 seconds. Now Quark is at the front once more riding tempo, cooling the pace a bit along the river. A couple Fuji women have made it back into the peloton, now a T-Mobile. The peloton regroups and prepares for the third assault of Manayunk.
This time the climb definitively shatters the peloton. There is the lead group of forty women, with a ten second gap between them and the two main chase groups. We had been caught behind and literally fly down the descent, screaming around the curves to regain the peloton. The women are strung out single file and gaps are everywhere. Mike instructs the Victory Brewing gals to power to the front of their chasing group and close the gap to the breakaway.
Before Strawberry Meadows the Victory Brewing women are back in the lead group, which now contains about 70 riders. Webcor is taking a turn setting the pace, with T-Mobile right behind them.
On Kelly Drive in the final lap the peloton is strung out and flying along at 30 mph. Genesis Scuba and T-Mobile are on the front but Quark attacks! Genesis Scuba and T-Mobile neutralize the attack. Victory Brewing moves to the front, along with Quark and sets the tempo leading into the final climb up Manayunk wall.
Victory Brewing racer Nicole Demars has a flat, Brooke Ourada drops back to lead her through the caravan and back to the peloton. Brooke does an amazing job, powering up past the cars! Pulling Nicole back into the game! Then another crash, this time Victory Brewing is not so fortunate. Brooke is among the victims, along with T-Mobile’s Dede Barry and a TriState Velo racer. As Brooke receives a new wheel the entire chasing group split, flying past our car on both sides in a valiant attempt to rejoin the front.
The final assault on Manayunk begins, looking behind the car I see T-Mobile’s Dede Barry blasting up past the caravan. The woman is a wonder! Riding almost suicidally close to the vehicles in the caravan as she uses every bit of an advantage possible to regain the peloton, unfortunately for Victory Brewing, dropping Brooke along the way. Brooke dug deep and fought hard, giving everything she had to get back into the thick of things to help her teammates, but it was not to be.
Another screaming descent, clocked this one at almost 50 mph, which is absolute insanity! By Lemon Hill Aquafina and Victory Brewing were taking the lead, with Quark right up in the mix as well. The race officials announce that the average speed for the race at 56 miles was almost 25 mph!
In the final stretch Equipe Nürnberger racer Judith Arndt led Petra Rossner out for an amazing 30 mph sprint up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway! Rossner raised her arms with seven fingers outstretched as she flew across the finish line, followed closely by Victory Brewing’s Gina Grain and Genesis-Scuba’s Laura Van Gilder.
Liberty Classic Podium, photo by Chris OBrien
Quark racer Sarah Uhl placed 6th and received the Meiji Roech award. An honor given to the first American U23 racer to finish the race.
Sarah Uhl, photo by Chris OBrien
Rona rider Erinne Willock claimed the Queen of the Mountain title!
Queen of the Mountain Erinne Willock, photo by Chris OBrien
1 Petra ROSSNER - GER - Versicherung/Lietzsport MIXED 2:25:55
2 Gina GRAIN - CAN - Victory Brewing Cycling Team "
3 Laura VANGILDER - USA - Genesis Scuba FFCC "
4 Becky CONZELMAN - USA - Spin Cycle Duke Sports Med "
5 Laura YOISTEN - CAN - Canadian National Team "
6 Sarah UHL - USA - Team Quark "
7 Anita VALEN - NOR - Team S.A.T.S. "
8 Alison WRIGHT - AUS - Nobili Rubinetterie-Guerciotti "
9 Joanne KIESANOWSKI - NZL - Colavita Olive Oil "
10 Regina SCHLEICHER - GER - Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan "
11 Magali LE FLOCH - FRA - Team Quark "
12 Andrea HANNOS - CAN - Equipe Cycliste Rona "
13 Mari HOLDEN - USA - T-Mobile Pro Cycling Team "
14 Magen LONG - USA - Sportsbook.com "
15 Jennifer EYERMAN - USA - Webcor Builders "
16 Amy MOORE - CAN - Team Quark "
17 Annette BEUTLER - SUI - Versicherung/Lietzsport MIXED "
18 Sigrid CORNEO - ITA - Nobili Rubinetterie-Guerciotti "
19 Modesta VZESNIAUSKAITE - LTU - Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan "
20 Catherine MARSAL - FRA - Nobili Rubinetterie-Guerciotti "
21 Karen BREMS - USA - Webcor Builders "
22 Anna ZUGANO - ITA - Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan "
23 Mette FISCHER-ANDERSEN - DEN - Team S.A.T.S. "
24 Leigh HOBSON - CAN - Team Cervelo GSM "
25 Erin CARTER - CAN - TDS Schwalbe "
26 Anne SAMPLONIUS - CAN - TDS Schwalbe "
27 Tina MAYOLO-PIC - USA - Genesis Scuba FFCC "
28 Katy ST LAURENT - CAN - Basis Aude "
29 Lynn GAGGIOLI - USA - T-Mobile Pro Cycling Team "
30 Lyne BESSETTE - CAN - Team Quark "
31 Kori KELLY - USA - Genesis Scuba FFCC "
32 Audrey LEMIEUX - CAN - Team Quark "
33 Erinne WILLOCK - CAN - Equipe Cycliste Rona "
34 Lara KROEPSCH - USA - T-Mobile Pro Cycling Team "
35 Catherine POWERS - USA - La Grange Dassani "
36 Emma RICKARDS - AUS - Victory Brewing Cycling Team "
37 Lauren FRANGES - USA - Victory Brewing Cycling Team "
38 Kym SHIRLEY - AUS - Nobili Rubinetterie-Guerciotti "
39 Sandy ESPESETH - CAN - Victory Brewing Cycling Team "
40 Charmian BREON - USA - Colavita Olive Oil "
41 Emily WESTBROOK - USA - Spin Cycle Duke Sports Med "
42 Helen KELLY - AUS - Equipe Cycliste Rona "
43 Meredith MILLER - USA - Team S.A.T.S. "
44 Candice BLICKEM - USA - Genesis Scuba FFCC "
45 Kathryn CURI - USA - Equipe Cycliste Rona "
46 Felicia GREER - CAN - Webcor Builders "
47 Tara ROSSNER - CAN - Canadian National Team "
48 Katrina GROVE - USA - Equipe Cycliste Rona "
49 Susan PALMER-KOMAR - CAN - Genesis Scuba FFCC "
50 Mandy LOZANO - USA - Spin Cycle Duke Sports Med "
51 Sara BRESNICK - USA - Verizon Wireless "
52 Christina PEICK-ANDERSEN - DEN - Team S.A.T.S. "
53 Kimberly ANDERSON - USA - T-Mobile Pro Cycling Team "
54 Iona WYNTER - JAM - Genesis Scuba FFCC "
55 Diana ZILIUTE - LTU - Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan "
56 Hiroko SHIMADA - JPN - Velo Bella "
57 Dotsie COWDEN - USA - T-Mobile Pro Cycling Team "
58 - GER - TDS Schwalbe "
59 Kate SHERWIN - USA - Spin Cycle Duke Sports Med "
60 Nadine BRUHN - DEN - Webcor Builders "
61 Judith ARNDT - GER - Versicherung/Lietzsport MIXED "
62 Chrissy RUITER - USA - Basis Aude "
63 Kristen LINTON - USA - East Coast Velo "
64 Barbara HEEB - SUI - Versicherung/Lietzsport MIXED "
65 Kimberly BRUCKNER - USA - T-Mobile Pro Cycling Team "
66 Kristin ARMSTRONG - USA - T-Mobile Pro Cycling Team "
67 Madeleine LINDBERG - SWE - Versicherung/Lietzsport MIXED "
68 Alicia GENEST - USA - Verizon Wireless "
69 Margaret HEMSLEY - AUS - Versicherung/Lietzsport MIXED "
70 Nicole DEMARS - CAN - Victory Brewing Cycling Team "
71 Zita URBONAITE - LTU - Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan "
72 Jessica PHILLIPS - USA - Versicherung/Lietzsport MIXED "
73 Kathleen BILLINGTON - USA - Team Fuji "
74 Yulia RAZENKOVA - RUS - Safi-Pasta Zara Manhattan "
75 Johanna BUICK - NZL - Victory Brewing Cycling Team 18
76 Jennifer STEPHENSON - CAN - Team Cervelo GSM 31
77 April HENERSON-ANDERSON - USA - Verducci Racing "
78 Grace FLEURY - USA - Genesis Scuba FFCC 1:49
79 Christine VARDAROS - USA - Velo Bella "
80 Catherine MALONE - USA - Webcor Builders "
81 Jill MC LAUGHLIN - USA - Velo Bella "
82 Katie LAMBDEN - USA - Aquafina "
83 Jennifer STEVENS - USA - Verducci Racing "
84 Anna GUSMINI - ITA - Nobili Rubinetterie-Guerciotti "
85 Becky BROEDER - USA - MABRA/NCVC Edge Wells Revolutn "
86 Joan WILSON - USA - Team S.A.T.S. "
87 Michele KIESANOWSKI - NZL - East Coast Velo "
88 Shannon HUTCHINSON - USA - Colavita Olive Oil "
89 Deirdre BARRY - USA - T-Mobile Pro Cycling Team "
90 Anna MILKOWSKI - USA - Equipe Cycliste Rona 3:26
91 Laura DOWNEY - USA - La Grange Dassani 3:56
92 Kerry SORACI - USA - TDS Schwalbe "
93 Emily GLOECKNER - USA - TDS Schwalbe "
94 Liza RACHETTO - USA - MABRA/NCVC Edge Wells Revolutn "
95 Melissa SANBORN - USA - MABRA/NCVC Edge Wells Revolutn "
96 Brooke O'CONNOR - USA - Colavita Olive Oil "
97 Jennifer PURCELL - USA - Tri State Velo Amoroso "
98 Nichole WANGSGARD - USA - Basis Aude "
99 Ann Marie MILLER - USA - Verizon Wireless "
100 Stefanie GRAETER - USA - Webcor Builders "
101 Shawn HEIDGEN - USA - TDS Schwalbe "
102 Daniela FUSAR POLI - ITA - Nobili Rubinetterie-Guerciotti "
103 Leah TOFFOLON - USA - Verizon Wireless "
104 Anna GARNETT - CAN - Team Cervelo GSM "
105 Cindy BAUWENS - BEL - Verizon Wireless "
106 Heather PECK - USA - Ind Fabrications/SMRT Inc "
107 Amanda LAWRENCE - USA - Ind Fabrications/SMRT Inc "
108 Allyson BRANDT - USA - Team Fuji "
109 Pam FIGORAS - USA - East Coast Velo "
110 Sinead FITZGIBBON - USA - Aquafina "
111 Andrea DVORAK - USA - Sportsbook.com "
112 Brooke OURADA - NZL - Victory Brewing Cycling Team "
113 Kirsten ROBBINS - CAN - Victory Brewing Cycling Team "
114 Maggie SHIRLEY - USA - Genesis Scuba FFCC "
115 Kristen LASASSO - USA - Basis Aude 7:34
116 Nicole BRANDT - USA - La Grange Dassani "
117 Emily SANDWITH - CAN - Canadian National Team "
118 Tara PARSONS - USA - Aquafina "
119 Mariane STOVER - USA - Ind Fabrications/SMRT Inc "
120 Betsey SELLERS - USA - MABRA/NCVC Edge Wells Revolutn "
121 Rhonda GUZDA - CAN - Team Cervelo GSM "
122 Beth LEASURE - USA - MABRA/NCVC Edge Wells Revolutn "
123 KC WILDER - USA - LSV Kelly "
124 Sherri STEDJE - USA - Sportsbook.com "
125 Elisa GAGNON - CAN - Aquafina "
126 Rebecca MC CLINTOCK - USA - Colavita Olive Oil "