Ina-Yoko Teutenberg and Bernhard Eisel will try to defend their Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling championships Sunday when they race, respectively, in the Liberty Classic for women and the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship for men.
Both races will begin and end on the Ben Franklin Parkway. The race for the 24th annual men's event is 156 miles. The women's race is 56.7 miles.
The races are the third legs of the Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling. The competitors in both the men's and women's divisions opened in Allentown on Tuesday before moving on to Reading yesterday.
Yesterday, Spain's Oscar Sevilla executed a solo attack in the waning moments of the Reading Classic and held on to win the 75-mile race in 2 hours, 47 minutes, 11 seconds. Ukraine's Yuri Metlushenko won the Lehigh Valley Classic on Tuesday.
Teutenberg, the winner of Tuesday's Lehigh Valley Classic women's criterium, collected her fifth-straight win last night with a victory in the Reading Classic women's criterium.
Teutenberg swept the three events last year and is a favorite to do so again this year. Eisel won the first two races last year and was third in Philadelphia. Juan Jose Haedo won the Philadelphia race last year in a course-record time of 5:45:51.
"It was just happiness for me to get a goal done," said the 33-year-old Teutenberg, who is a native of Germany.
"You never know how Philly will work out," said Eisel, who is 26 and hails from Austria. "It's more of a lottery."
Both Teutenberg and Eisel are members of Team High Road, which is an American organization. And both Team High Road men and women come into this year's Philadelphia International and the Liberty Classic with high expectations.
The men's roster also includes multitime Triple Crown race winner Greg Henderson, 2001 Paris-Roubaix winner Servais Knaven, and multi-time Olympic medalist Bradley Wiggins.
On the women's club, Teutenberg teams with American Kim Anderson.
In order to win in Philadelphia, the contestants will have to conquer the steepness of the famous Manayunk Wall, which they must ascend 10 times during the 14.4-mile primary circuit.
"That's a real tough climb," said Eisel. "The first two times are easy. But every lap gets harder and harder. Last year, I had to give everything."
Teutenberg said that the raucous fans that line the wall helped keep her going last year.
"The wall is a hard hill, but the spectators make it easier," she said. "It's big race, and the crowd is big, and they push you on."
The 10 long laps are followed by three circuits up and over Lemon Hill. The $93,500 prize purse includes a $10,000 bonus for the overall series winner.
The top man Sunday will receive $10,000, while $5,000 goes to the No. 1 finisher among the women.
Battling for a piece of the pie will be four Tour de France teams, a full complement of U.S.-based teams and professional squads from Poland, Ireland, Canada, Germany and Mexico.
Eisel is looking forward to getting his chance to repeat. Last year's triumph came on the strength of his last 150 meters, which broke Eisel out of the pack.
Daniele Bennati, an Italian who in 2007 scored 11 wins at the grand tours and classics, is one rider Eisel and the others will need to watch.
"It was a nice win because it was my first time in America, and I loved the crowd of people," Eisel said of last year. "Not everybody was interested in the race, but they wanted to come out and see what's going on."