The six rider squad from Team TIBCO/To the Top rode aggressively from the start of the 93 km Liberty Classic, with Australian National Champion Ruth Corset one of the early agitators. Corset attacked on the first lap and began securing Queen of the Mountain points the first time up the Manayunk Wall and Lemon Hill, en route to securing the QoM competition. In fact, Corset took top points on seven of the eight QoM hot spots out on course.
“I felt very good on the climbs today,” Corset said. “I was usually second or third wheel going up and jumped before the top to get the points but also to conserve energy.”
Conserving was critical, as the temperature was well into the 80s, as was the humidity. But Corset noted that the heat didn’t bother her at all. “It’s a lot hotter at home,” she said.
Breaks were not the order of the day, and only two solo efforts managed to gain any time, and both of those were neutralized by Corset on the Wall, on laps three and four. On the fourth and final lap of the race, the field splintered on the final ascent in the heat, with only 22 of the 120 starters making the group that would contest the win. Corset attacked over the Wall the last time, and when that didn’t succeed, she went again the final time up Lemon Hill. But the reduced bunch remained intact heading into the final kilometer.
Team TIBCO was very well represented in that front group, with Corset joined by Brooke and Meredith Miller, and Joanne Kiesanowski. TIBCO was the only team to put four riders in the front group.
As the bunch headed up Benjamin Franklin Parkway toward Logan Circle the final time, it became apparent that the finish would come down to a sprint. Brooke Miller found the wheel of perennial Liberty winner Ina Teutenberg, who was set up behind two teammates. Peanut Butter & Co. and Colavita-Baci were also positioning their sprinters, Shelly Evans and Theresa Cliff-Ryan, for the finale.
The pack was tense coming around Logan Circle heading into the final 600-meter finishing straight. And when Evans hit out from behind her lead-out Lauren Tamayo with 300 meters still to go, it caused a chain reaction in the bunch and the sprint was on.
“When Shelly jumped I tried to go with her,” Corset said, “but she was a bit too quick.”
Instead, Teutenberg took off in chase of Evans, with Brooke Miller on her wheel. With the sprint dialing up, Kirsty Broun (Verducci) made an aggressive move to push Miller of Teutenberg’s wheel, causing Miller to lose momentum and restart her sprint.
Evans ran out of gas in the final 50 meters in the cross-headwind sprint, with Teutenberg overtaking her 20 meters from the line for the win. Evans held on for 2nd, while Cliff-Ryan took 3rd just ahead of Brooke Miller. Broun finished 9th, but after review of the sprint, she was relegated to 22nd place, last in the front group.
Corset finished strong, taking 7th, while Kiesanowski slotted in at 9th and Meredith Miller 12th. The high placings by all four riders ensured that Team TIBCO would win the team competition for the race.
“The girls rode really well today,” said team Directeur Sportif Emma Rickards. “They executed the race plan perfectly today. Everyone did their jobs. Obviously, Ruth had a great day. Emma (Mackie) and Rebecca (Much) were there right until the last climb and did great work all race. As a director, I can’t ask for much more from them.”