Philadelphia — Rock Racing’s Fred Rodriguez finished third Sunday at the Commerce Bank International Cycling Championship in Philadelphia.
Rodriguez scored his seventh top five finish in the most prestigious one-day race in the United States as Matti Breschel (Team CSC) won a field sprint ahead of Kirk O’Bee (Health Net presented by Maxxis) on a steamy afternoon.
“This is one of those races where you have to bide your time and try and play your cards right,” Rodriguez said. “As I came into the last lap, I felt good and I knew I had to be in the right place at the right time.”
Unfortunately, Rodriguez said he lost momentum when he rode over a steel grate at the 150-meter mark on the final stretch of Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
“I hit the infamous pothole that’s been there every year since I started doing this race and it threw me off balance for the finish,” he said.
Rodriguez’s third place in the final race of the Commerce Bank “Triple Crown of Cycling” follows a pair of outright victories in the event that was once known as the USPRO Championship in 2001 and 2004, a second place finish in 2000 (as the top American finisher), third place in 1996 and fourth in 2005.
Despite temperatures soaring into the upper 90s, thousands of fans turned out to watch the race at the Manayunk “Rock Wall,” the decisive climb sponsored by Rock Racing that riders scaled 10 times during each 14.4-mile (23.1 km) lap of the circuit.
Earlier in the 156-mile (251 km) race, Rock Racing’s Tyler Hamilton was part of a seven-man breakaway that gained a lead of more than five minutes. That move made it easier on the team, Rodriguez said.
“Oscar and I covered the Rock Wall every time up,” Rodriguez said. “I was probably one of the only sprinters following the move every time and it took a little energy out of me. But I couldn’t risk missing the break.”
In the Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling series – recognized nationally and internationally as America’s most prestigious series of professional road races – Rock Racing’s Oscar Sevilla tied for second with Yuri Metlushenko (Amore & Vita-McDonald’s). Breschel was the winner.
“We proved ourselves this week on the biggest stage in domestic cycling,” Rock Racing Team Owner Michael Ball. “It was unfortunate that we didn’t get to field a full squad at the Tour of California and that we had such short notice to race the Tour de Georgia. But this goes a long way toward making up for it and it shows our staying power.”
On the other side of the country Sunday, Priscilla Calderon of the Rock Racing women’s team won her first race of the season to capture the California Bicycle Racing (CBR) state criterium championship. Beatrice Rodriguez (Southern California Velo) was second and Deborah Duran (Helen’s-Trek) was third in the 40-minute race.
Rock Racing’s Fred Rodriguez (second from left) finished third in the sprint to the line Sunday at the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic.
“Fast Freddie” Rodriguez of Rock Racing scored his seventh top-five finish at the race in Philadelphia since 1996.
Tyler Hamilton, riding with a broken wrist, represented Rock Racing in a seven-man breakaway midway through the 156-mile race
All photos courtesy: Vero Image