Bikers Climb Manayunk Wall to Win Championship

Philly cycling event still most important single-day road race in U.S.

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The start and finish line for the 25th 156-mile Philadelphia International Cycling Championship for men is on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway between Logan Circle and the Eakins Oval, near the Art Museum.

But that's not where most people are lined up to cheer the racers on Sunday. They parked themselves along the infamous 300-foot high Manayunk Wall, the half-mile cruncher that has become a Philadelphia icon and is one spot of the race that all must conquer at least 10 times during the course of the race.

"When you look at the wall itself, it doesn't look that bad," Scott Zwizanski told "I've seen hills a lot bigger and a lot longer. Everyone can push hard up the wall once, but it is a different story to do it 10 times. That's what makes the hill so tough."

Of course, Manayunk is only part of the 156 miles that cyclists have to complete.  As Zwizanski added: "There are some European stages that are this long, but [156 miles] is pretty long."

More than 250 cyclists from 26 countries took part in the TD Bank-sponsored race that also features three laps of Lemon Hill and Logan Circle. The men's race usually lasts about six hours.

Team Columbia-Highroad, considered the Pro Cycling Tour's strongest team, dominated with a 1-2 finish. Andre Greipel came in first with a time of 6:24:04. His teammate Greg Henderson was just miliseconds behind in second. Bissel Pro Cycling's Kirk O'Bee came in third with a time of 6:24:05.

Liberty Classic, the women's race, which started 10 minutes after the men's, consisted of four laps of the same 14.4-mile circuit as the men's and four steep climbs up the grueling Manayunk Wall.

Columbia-Highroad's Ina Teutenberg finished first with a time of 2:22:33. Joanne Kiesanowski from Team TIBCO came in second at 2:22:33 and Shelley Olds from PROMAN Hit Squad landed in third at 2:22:34.

An estimated 300,000 people decended upon the race, which Mayor Michael Nutter called "a tremendous success." This year's race was almost cancelled due to a lack of funding, but was saved at the last minute by a mystery donor.

To handle the large race crowds, SEPTA ran double the usual number of trains on the R6 Norristown line.

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