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Philly’09: All Columbia, All The Time
When a team like Columbia sends the All-Star squad they sent to Philly for the weekend, you know there’s only one acceptable result, and that result was theirs after a long, hot day around Philadelphia. Andre Greipel continued his amazing recovery with his sixth win since returning only a month ago!

With such a seemingly unprecedented domination of the Philadelphia race, it would be almost unfair not to give the folks at Columbia a say in the final race report. So today, we’ll informally partner up with High Road’s press release on yesterday’s dominant performance, add in a few of my own comments, and let Darrell Parks’ great pictures show the rest of the story.

Right off the line, the US National Team’s Daniel Holloway went for it, BMX-style. The 150+ mile race finished with a sprint, but started with one too.

Not very long after ‘Hollywood’ left the comforting bedroom of the field, Amore e Vita’s Andrew Talansky set off in pursuit. His would be alone all day. He chased and chased, but didn’t catch Holloway for a long while. There were two soloists, waging separate wars for the first half of Sunday’s proceedings.

Holloway enjoying the privileges of a solo day out front – no hustle and bustle en route to Manayunk!

Finally, the two joined forces, and even though it wasn’t for very long, they were able to eke a little bit more out of their dwindling energy reserves, before finally calling it a day. At this point, Holloway only needed to finish the race to collect the KOM Prize, but he was almost immediately jettisoned from the field, and that was quite a lot to ask for a rider to literally ride the entire race solo.

Instead, the KOM honors went to a rider from the next big break of the day. This one was a trio, and this one had some firepower: Tom Zirbel (Bissell), Valeriy Kobzarenko (TT1), and Daniel Oss (Liquigas). Kobzarenko would eventually net the KOM jersey, but yet again, this was not the break to be. Actually, there wasn’t a break to be on Sunday. This was a Columbia showcase, and everyone else was but a sideshow.

The second break spent a long while off the front, enjoyed a number of trips up the Wall, but once again, met its demise. The field was hitting high gear at this point – attacks were steady and consistent, breaks came, went, returned, reformed, on and on.

“There was a break with 60km to go,” said Boasson Hagen. “We had four guys in there but it was too big [30 riders] and it wasn’t working well. When it came back we tried again.”

Boasson Hagen and his breakaway partner was close to catching the lead riders with 15km remaining in the race but the peloton was closing in and the bunch came back together. Columbia-Highroad set the pace for the last three laps through the finishing circuit and up Lemon Hill and finally set Greipel up for the win.

The rest is, honestly, not even exaggerating it, The Columbia Show.

Columbia took over the reins of the large field, and the only thing left to conquer was racing’s uncertainty – there was a big crash the final time through Logan Circle that took out a big chunk of the sprinting hopefuls, but did nothing to derail the Columbia Choo Choo.

The Columbia boys even managed to hold tight to their grip on the race up Manayunk – a hill notorious for promoting disarray. They climbed as one, and dominated as one…well 1-2, we shouldn’t forget about Henderson’s great 2nd place either!

Looking down the final stretch, there was nada to be seen but Columbia.

Up Lemon Hill, the attacks came as per the norm, but there was always a Yellow and White jersey there to take care of the nuisance.

Sprinter Andre Greipel led the field to the line coming off the wheel of his teammate Greg Henderson, who held on for second place.

“It was great to win here today. The team did a really nice job,” said Greipel. “We had a lot of cards to play with three sprinters and some good breakaway riders. In the end it came down to a sprint and Greg gave up his chances to lead me out. It was nice that he could take second place.

For the second straight year, Kirk O’Bee finished on the podium. He must really be lamenting the fact that USPRO moved to Greenville…

Team director Tristan Hoffmann gave full credit to the riders today. “From the car we didn’t get a lot of information on what was happening in the race but the riders did a great job. We had a very good team here so we had to take responsibility for the race. The other teams were looking at us to bring back the break and make the moves. The guys tried to get a few moves going late in the race and Edvald went in a second break which looked good for a while.”

Add in Henderson’s big 2nd place check, and you’ve got yourself a damn fine Sunday!

“I’m very happy with the last few weeks of racing,” added Greipel. “I had quite a few months of racing so it’s nice to be able to return with the form to win for my team.” Greipel has won six races in the last month of racing.


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