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U.S. Racing This Week: Sagan vs. Philly 2

The old American classic in Philadelphia is back this weekend for the 27th year (18th for women). The young and incredibly versatile Peter Sagan will take on his second Philadelphia International Cycling Championship as favorite, while world champion Giorgia Bronzini will chase her first win in the women’s Liberty Classic. On the other side of the country, two of North America’s top stage racers – and threats for the 2012 London Olympics – Clara Hughes and Kristin Armstrong face off at the Mount Hood Cycling Classic.

TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship (men)
Liberty Classic (women)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Sunday June 5 9:00 a.m. (men) / 9:10 a.m. (women)
156 mi. (men) / 57.6 mi. (women)

A look back at 2010: The women's peloton rolls down the Ben Franklin Parkway during the Liberty Classic.

The oldest hors categorie one-day race in the States is Sunday. The “Philly” titles are two of the most prestigious in the country. Formerly home to the U.S. professional road championships and the anchor for Philly Week, the Sunday races in the City of Brotherly Love will test riders with the 17-percent Manayunk Wall (10 times for men and four for women). The wildly hot temperatures of the last two years appear to be out, with a forecast high of 81° F and 30-percent chance of thunderstorms.

A quick search of the odds makers doesn’t turn up stakes on Sunday’s men’s race. If the bookies were taking bets, it’s possible that Peter Sagan’s (Liquigas-Cannondale) chances would rival the 3-1 odds of rain. The 20-year-old double Paris-Nice stage winner arrives to his second Philadelphia race fresh off his second points jersey in a row at the Amgen Tour of California, earned in part with his stage 5 win on a hilly, selective bunch sprint day. Sagan missed the win to Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad) in Philadelphia in 2010 by a bike length after he was boxed in coming out of the 180-degree turn around Logan Circle.

Assuming the race goes to a bunch sprint, as it has every year since 2005, a well-positioned Sagan will be the favorite coming around the circle past the Franklin Institute.

After his podium finish at the U.S. pro road championships last weekend, Sagan’s teammate Ted King joked that the Slovak was “untouchable.” Sagan started as the favorite last year, however, after complimenting his California green jersey with two stage wins and the best young rider jersey. While Goss’ win was no surprise, it was an upset and if Goss’ mate Leigh Howard wins on Sunday, it will be viewed in the same way.

In addition to Howard, Sagan will face off against a number of second-tier favorites that include Robert Förster (UnitedHealthcare), Aldo Ino Ilesic (Team Type 1) and Jonathan Cantwell (V Australia).

Preliminary men’s start list

Preliminary women’s start list

Mount Hood Cycling Classic

Hood River, Oregon
June 2-5

The men take backseat to the Armstrong/Hughes showdown this weekend. Five stages, four days, two time trials – Mount Hood is the elite women’s show in 2011.

Panorama Point Prologue
June 2 5:30 p.m. (women) / TBD (men)
3.0 mi. (men & women)

Stage 1: Columbia Gorge Road Race
June 3 9:00 a.m. (men) / 1:35 p.m. (women)
84 mi. (men) / 56 mi. (women)

Stage 2: Trout Lake Time Trial
June 4 TBD (men & women)
11 mi. (men & women)

Stage 3: Hood River Criterium
June 4 6:45 p.m. (women) / 7:40 p.m. (men)
40 min. (women) / 75 min. (men)

Stage 4: 3 Summits Road Race
June 5 10:00 a.m. (men) / 12:10 p.m. (women)
91 mi. (men) / 70 mi. (women)

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