To celebrate its 25th anniversary, tomorrow's Philadelphia International Cycling Championship will feature as deep a field as one can see in a North American race.
Headliners in the 23-team, 169-rider race include several talented Americans, including three-time U.S. champion Fred Rodriguez and local products Floyd Landis and Scott Zwizanski, a Downingtown resident, and many successful foreign riders.
Rodriguez leads the Rock Racing team. His teammate, Spaniard Oscar Sevilla, has been one of the best young riders at the Tour de France, so he is expected to be in the mix at the end, too.
The OUCH team, which boasts Landis, from Lancaster, and Australians Rory Sutherland and Karl Menzies, has had success in this race, winning in 2005 and placing second last year.
The Kelly Benefits Strategies team features Zwizanski and several other contenders. Andy Bajadali won the Redlands Classic in 2007. Alex Candelario of Nevada placed second at the USPRO criterium championships and fifth at the Philadelphia International race last year, and Canadian U23 time-trial champion David Veilleux won last year's under-23 Tour of Pennsylvania.
Another local connection can be found on the Fuji-Servetto team. Fuji bikes is based in Philadelphia. The team's top sprinter, Australian Hilton Clarke, has several criterium wins in his career, including the USPRO criterium championship in 2006.
Perhaps the team to watch is the 2008 top-ranked squad of Team Columbia-High Roa. The team features three top international contenders: Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen, New Zealand's Greg Henderson and Austria's Bernhard Eisel.
Hagen won Gent-Wevelgem earlier this year and is ranked 23d in the world. Henderson, known for his sprinting ability, won the Philadelphia race in 2006, and Eisel finished third in 2007.
Liquigas, a team out of Italy, will look to Manuel Quinziato to finish near the top. Quinziato has two top-10 finishes in Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix and a fourth-place performance at the Three Days of De Pane.
The U.S.-based BMC Racing Team has a few on its roster that could wind up victorious. Tony Cruz won the USPRO criterium championship in 1999, and teammate Scott Nydam won the King of the Mountains title at the Tour of California in 2008.
Other contending riders include Bissell Pro Cycling's Joe Martin, Tom Zirbel and Kirk O'Bee; Fly V Australia's Phil Zajicek, Ben Day and Johnathan Cantwell; Amore & Vita-McDonalds' Yuriy Metlushenko and Richard England; and Colavita/Sutter Home's Sebastain Haedo, brothers Alajandro and Anibal Borrajo and Davide Frattini.