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By Bryan Jew, VeloNews Senior Writer
It’s seems like it’s become one of those inevitable things in cycling, just like Domo (and before them Mapei) winning Paris-Roubaix, the Belgians dominating cyclo-cross and Mario Cipollini winning Giro stages. Petra Rossner will win the First Union Liberty Classic World Cup. If it’s the beginning of June and there are women racing in Philadelphia, you might as well just write Rossner’s name down in the win column. The crew-cut Saturn rider made it four in a row – and five overall – in Philadelphia, winning the inevitable field sprint while towing teammate Anna Millward into second place, to keep Millward’s grip on the overall World Cup standings.
Now in her second season with Saturn, Rossner added to her Philly record that began with the German national team. She was just as impressive then, but with her five Saturn teammates, she seems almost invincible in the Liberty Classic’s current setup.
The women contest five laps of the 14.4-mile course, including five times up the Manayunk Wall. The total of 72 miles is tough, but not tough enough. And with the mostly flat run-in back toward the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, it makes for a fast race in which it’s very difficult for anyone to escape the grip of Saturn.
There were attacks early on, but for the most part, the race was intact each time up the Manayunk wall, with Saturn’s Millward and Lyne Bessette battling with the Acca Due O-Lorena squad’s Polikeviciute twins (Jolanta and Rasa) each time up the 17-percent climb. That paid off for Acca Due O, with the twins going 1-2 in the queen of the mountains competition, but it wasn’t nearly enough to put pressure on Saturn.
The fifth and final run-in back toward the Benjamin Franklin Parkway saw a brief attack by Intersports Catherine Marsal, but she was quickly shut down, setting up the field sprint finish that played right into Saturn’s hands.
Acca Due O began the leadout train, hoping to set up its Dutch sprinter Mirjam Melchers, but with 200 meters to go, Rossner hit the front, with Millward right on her wheel.
“Once I had her wheel, I was a pretty safe bet to finish ahead of everybody else,” said Millward.
And for Rossner, it was just a matter of finishing off all the hard work by her teammates. “I had my strongest team today, it was awesome. They did more than I expected them to do, because I know their physical ability …. And I just had to repay them.”
All in a day’s work for Rossner and Saturn, but all too familiar for the competition. “You know she’s fast,” said Vlaanderen T Interim’s Debby Mansveld. “You know when you’re riding with Petra, she’s almost sure to win.”
Especially in Philadelphia.
1. Petra Rossner (G), Saturn, 72 mi in 3:01:47; 2. Anna Millward (Aus), Saturn; 3. Debbie Mansveld (Nl), Vlaanderen T Interim; 4. Sandy Espeseth (Can), Intersports; 5. Mirjam Melchers (Nl), Acca Due O-Lorena; 6. Susanne Ljungskog (S), Vlaanderen T Interim; 7. Sara Symington (GB), British National; 8. Heidi Van De Vijver (B), Vlaanderen T Interim; 9. Paula MacNamara (USA), VeriZon Wireless; 10. Joanne Kiesanowski (NZ), Procter & Gamble; 11. Gina Grain (USA), 800.com; 12. Kerry Helmuth (USA), Carpe Diem-Itera; 13. Melanie Sears (GB), British National; 14. Anne Samplonius (Can), Intersports; 15. Erin Carter (Can), Intersports; 16. Jen Dial (USA), VeriZon Wireless; 17. Sigrid Corneo (I), Carpe Diem-Itera; 18. Arenda Grimberg (Nl), Acca Due O-Lorena; 19. Katia Longhin (I), Acca Due O-Lorena; 20. Chantal Beltman (Nl), Dutch National, all s.t.