Lizzie Armitstead and Carlos Barbero win Philadelphia International Cycling Classic [gallery]

It was a day of firsts in Philadelphia on Sunday as two new champions conquered the wall at the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic. Britain’s Elizabeth (Lizzie) Armitstead of Boels Dolman Cycling team took the crown from teammate and two-time champion Evelyn (Evie) Stevens.

Spain’s Carlos Barbero of Caja Rural-Seguros RGA dethroned America’s two-time winner, Kiel Reijnen of Team United Healthcare.

Click here for a look at NewsWorks’ live blog of the race

The event got off to an exciting start with the men’s race beginning first at 8 a.m.

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“This is an event Philadelphia is never going to lose,” said Mayor Michael Nutter as he blew the starting air horn.

Roxborough native Robin Carpenter (Hincapie) drew a crowd as many hoped to see the hometown hero take the title. Carpenter held the lead for several of the 12.3 mile circuit’s nine laps, and with two laps to go had an 18-second advantage on the pack alongside teammate Ty Magner. Carpenter held that lead until the penultimate lap, but as the peloton hit bottom of the wall, it was anyone’s race.

Ultimately, it was the legs of Carlos Barbero that proved the strongest at the final sprint up the 17 percent grade hill. The 24 year old from Spain beat out Michael Woods (Optom-Kelly Benefit Strategies) with Hincapie’s Tom Skujins taking third.

Carpenter finished in 57th place, but earned himself the Sprint Prize. King of the Mountain went to H&R Block Pro Cycling Group’s Adam de Vos.

Next up was the women’s race rolling out at 12:30 p.m. For the first time in over 10 years, the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic was given a UCI World Cup designation, drawing 96 riders from 21 countries.

Starting in the height of midday heat, the racers knew they’d be in for a tough ride as they took to their 73.8 mile course. Team Boels-Dolman proved dominant for most of the race’s six laps, and as they rounded into their final lap, it seemed as though Evie Stevens was in position to claim her third consecutive title. An impressive jump by Charlotte Becker (Hitec Products) in the final lap looked as though it would seal the race, but team Boels Dolman still had some gas.

Coming into the final sprint at the bottom of the wall, a chaotic peloton swallowed defending champion Stevens out of winning position, laying the responsibility on teammate Lizzie Armistead. Laying it all on the wall, Armistead climbed to victory, beating out Elisa Longo Borghini of Wiggle Honda. Alena Amialiusik of Velocio took third. It was an emotional finish to an iconic day in women’s bike racing.

The sprint prize went to Emilie Moberg (Hitec Products) and Queen of the Mountain went to Jasmin Glaesser (Optum Kelly Benefit Strategies). With Sunday’s victory, Armistead sealed the lead in the World Cup standings, earning her the coveted world leader jersey.

“It’s always nice to be able to race in this jersey. It’s an honor,” she said. “It’s something that you only experience a few times in your career and I’m very proud to wear it.”

As the final racers came across the finish line, Roxbrough Development Corporation Executive Director, James Calamia reflected on the day’s events.

“The Philadelphia International Cycling Classic brings in such dynamic racers and athletes. It starts and ends in Roxborough, and we couldn’t be happier by what an excellent day it has been.”

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