Carlos Barbero Cuesta (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) proved the strongest of a last-lap break to win the 31st Philadelphia International Cycling Classic on Sunday.
Barbero had made it into the key escape with one trip up the Manayunk Wall remaining in the 110.7-mile UCI America Tour race. There were some more familiar names in there with him — among them Chris Horner (Airgas-Safeway), Travis McCabe (SmartStop) and Danny Summerhill (UnitedHealthcare) — but none could match the Caja Rural rider on the final grind to the line.
He took the victory from Michael Woods (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) with plenty of margin for celebration. Tom Skujins (Hincapie) rounded out the podium in third.
“We arrived at the home of our sponsor Fuji with high hopes, and the team is very proud to win,” Barbero said.
“We came in on a hot streak. We’ve already created a buzz with five different riders [winning races this year]. The team is very good and we are hoping to continue in the same direction.”
WIth just over two laps remaining, Hincapie Racing Team’s Ty Magner and Robin Carpenter were off the front with an 18-second lead. UnitedHealthcare was on the front in the bunch.
Magner fell back at the foot of the Manayunk Wall, leaving Carpenter alone off the front. He crested alone, but the bunch was right behind him.
Carpenter stayed away, now chased by a group of three — teammate Oscar Clark, Matteo Dal-Cin (Silber) and Redi Halilaj (Amore & Vita). As the trio latched on, Jamis-Hagens Berman moved forward to help UHC drive the pursuit.
Then Jelly Belly’s Lachlan Morton attacked out of the chase and tried to reach the leaders as they approached Lemon Hill. Griffin Easter (Airgas-Safeway) followed with a Budget Forklifts rider, but it was all for naught as UCH and Jamis pushed the pace.
Going into the penultimate trip up the Wall the break had just a dozen seconds in hand and trains were starting to form with the goal of launching protected riders on the climb.
Chris Horner (Airgas) was first to make a move on the Wall. He had teammate Connor McCutcheon for company and the two overhauled the break going over the top and into the final lap.
Going down the other side the Horner group was about 10 riders and quickly swelling. Joining them were Cuesta; Dal-Cin and teammate Ryan Roth; Travis McCabe (SmartStop); Mike Woods and Guillaume Boivin (Optum); Danny Summerhill (UHC); Gregory Brenes and Daniel Jaramillo (Jamis); and Tom Skujins (Hincapie).
As they hit Lemon Hill for the final time the break had nearly a minute on the peloton, and McCutcheon had a go, taking perhaps 10 seconds and giving Horner a free ride in the group.
The first chase finally ran him down well short of the wall with the peloton at 45 seconds.
As the leaders hit the foot of the Wall it was every man for himself. The 41-year-old Horner was among the first to fade — and at the top it was all Carlos Barbero Cuesta.