Race day, Sunday the 2nd of June, the Philadelphia Cycling Classic … It was my first ever Philly Classic and what a day it was for me and for Team Predator Carbon Repair.
The weather was forecast to be hot and humid and it wasn’t wrong. We woke to exactly that, and to make matters worse the race started at 12 PM, so right on peak temperatures.
The race was aggressive from the start with lots of attacks, and it wasn’t long before a group got up the road on the first lap and one of those guys happened to be myself. I had 3 other breakaway companions who were Tom Zirbel from Optum, David Williams of 5hr Energy and Logan Hutchings of Elbowz. We all worked well together and established a good gap. One of the Team’s goals going into the race was whoever got into a break they were to try go for the KOM points, so I set myself a goal to get as many points as I could before the bunch caught us.
There were two KOM lines on the 12 mile course, one on the Manayunk Wall and another on Lemon Hill and there were points up for grabs every lap. I was feeling really good in the break, so the first time up the Manayunk Wall I set a hard enough tempo so the other guys wouldn’t come around. Near the top, I looked back and saw I had a 50 meter gap and took the full points. For the next five laps I managed to collect maximum points every lap before the bunch sweeped us up.
Soon after we got caught a big group of 15 or so riders escaped up the road and contained a lot of good teams. I missed this move so I was a bit worried that the break would stay to the finish and someone might overtake me in the KOM points, but my worries were soon eased when the team car pulled up beside me and told me I had sealed the KOM and no one could beat me. I couldn’t help but to crack a smile and have a bit of a shout! There were still 3 or so laps to go, so I had to refocus and the next goal was to help Ricky and Aurelien out to keep them out of trouble and get them near the front each lap before the bottom of the Manayunk Wall.
We had no reason to chase the break as we had a rider present in the break with Kirk Carlsen, so we just hid in the bunch protected from the wind to stay as fresh as possible before the finale. On the last lap the remnants of the break were picked up and it was all on from there. The last 10 km were crazy with everyone trying to stay near the front before we hit the Wall for the final climb to the finish. Aurelien, myself and Ricky were all positioned well into the bottom of the Manayunk. From there on, it was every man for himself. Aurelien finished an incredible 4th and I surprised myself with a 6th place and Ricky 11th, and to top it off of course the KOM jersey!!! For winning the KOM there was a nice check for $5,000 the same amount of prize money for winning the race, so that made it even more worthwhile.
I look forward to racing this event again and maybe even to win.
By Dion Smith, Team Predator Carbon Repair