Oak Ridge, Tenn. -- The USA Cycling Pro Road National Championships opened Thursday on the shores of Melton Hill Reservoir with the Individual Time Trial events. Amber Neben (Lake Forest, Calif.; Cogeas - Mettler Pro Cycling Team) successfully defended her title for the Elite Women. The Women’s U23 ITT national title was taken by Chloe Dygert-Owen (Port Orchard, Wash./Sho-Air TWENTY20), who was second overall in the elite women’s competition.
Ian Garrison (Decatur, Ga.; Hagens Berman Axeon) added his second ITT national title in seven days by taking the Stars-and-Stripes jersey for Elite Men. Last week in Hagerstown, Maryland, he won the Men’s U23 ITT Championship. He becomes the first male athlete to capture U23 and Elite national titles in the same year.
All athletes battled the heat and humidity on the 7.12-mile (11.5-kilometer) time trial course. Under brilliant blue skies, the temperatures climbed to 90 degrees and the heat index reached 100 by midday. Among the field of 23 elite women, Neben blasted across the two laps to secure her third consecutive ITT title in as many years. She captured a third gold medal in a time of 30 minutes, 19 seconds.
“The first year (in Knoxville), we raced in downtown Knoxville, a very, very different course. The demands of the course were very different,” the 44-year-old Neben said. “That was actually the first win (here). It was my second (career) TT win, but it had been the first one in a long time so it was pretty special. The second one was at this beautiful area (Oak Ridge). The roads are just smooth and flowy. I think today I was the most nervous of all of them.”
Defending champion Neben exhibited her dominance by leading her nearest competitors by 23 seconds after the first split. Only half a second separated the riders fighting Neben for medals midway through the race, and it would be Dygert-Owen taking a six-second advantage over Leah Thomas (Boulder Creek, Calif.; Bigla Pro Cycling), the current Pan American Elite Women’s Time Trial Champion, for second-place. Thomas improved from her fourth-place finish last year.
“Going into that first lap, I really tried to get into my rhythm,” said the 22-year-old Dygert-Owen about her U23 title on Thursday. “I really tried to stay as steady as I could. I just went as hard as I could on that second lap. A little disappointed today, but I gave it one hundred percent, really all I had.”
The Men’s Elite event featured 38 riders, covering three laps for a total of 21.3 miles (34.2 kilometers). With defending National Champion Joey Rosskopf (Decatur, Ga.;Team CCC) foregoing his entry, the title was up for grabs. Oak Ridge was the site of a quiet research and development effort, the Manhattan Project, that ended World War II, there were no secrets on Thursday about the fastest men on bicycles.
After the first two laps of the final wave of riders, Garrison trailed Neilson Powless (Roseville, Calif.; Team Jumbo-Visma) for the best time. On the third and final lap it was Garrison who turned on the afterburners, winning in 42 minutes, 58 seconds.
“I don’t think it’s set in yet, but it’s a great feeling no matter what,” said the Georgia native about his second ITT national title in a week. “The preparation goes back a long ways, so even in the off season just thinking of working on my time trial and spending time on the time trial bike. And then in the past month, it’s just been dialing in the training, longer hours, thinking how this was going to be a long effort.”
Powless was one of the favorites to win the race, having earned double medals in the ITT championships in 2017, a silver in the U23 ITT and a bronze in the men’s elite ITT that year. He would not fade completely on the final lap, holding on second, 28 seconds behind Garrison.
“I was just too eager for it and I was too excited and it just got the better of me,” Powless said. “Yeah, it was still a decent result, I’m happy with the result. In my personal performance I know that I could have done better, so I just look to the future.”
Another 21 seconds back was George Simpson (Fort Collins, Colo.; Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling) for third place.
The U.S. Pro Criterium Championship will take place Friday, June 28 under the lights in downtown Knoxville. The women will race for 70 minutes in downtown Knoxville beginning at 6 p.m. The men will race for 80 minutes beginning at 7:25 p.m. The 1.1-mile closed-loop circuit will roll along S. Gay Street and feature six turns, with one steep climb on Clinch Avenue. Sunday, June 30, brings the signature event of the championships, the U.S. Pro Road Race Championship, which will also be held in downtown Knoxville. All four races on Friday and Sunday will be live streamed this year on the USA Cycling Facebook Page and YouTube Channel.
For USA Cycling Pro Road National Championships results, click here.
For USA Cycling Para-cycling ITT and Road National Championships results, click here.
For start lists and call ups for all events, click here.
Broadcast and Social Media
- The U.S. Pro Road Race Championships for women and men will be webcast on Sunday, June 24 on the USA Cycling YouTube Channel (youtu.be/t5VvWxLcYFI), and Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/usacycling/)
- The criterium and road race events will be broadcast live by WATE-TV in Knoxville, and other regional stations.
- Follow race updates on Twitter @usacyclinglive #USPro #CritNats
- Follow other event updates on Twitter @usacycling and @knoxrocks
U.S. Paralympic Cycling
The U.S. Para-cycling events began Thursday with 13 athletes defending their crowns and eight additional athletes earning time trial national champion titles. A full report can be found here. Competition continues Friday with the hand cycle relay and concludes Saturday with the road race. Follow U.S. Paralympics Cycling on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates throughout the event.
- For race course maps and parking options - www.visitknoxville.com/usa-cycle-knox/event-info/race-routes/
- For information on VIP Hospitality - www.visitknoxville.com/usa-cycle-knox/vip-passes/
About USA Cycling (usacycling.org)
USA Cycling is a proud member of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and United States Olympic Committee (USOC). Within the United States, USA Cycling is the national governing body for the sport of cycling and oversees the disciplines of road, track, mountain bike, cyclocross, and BMX. With a mission to develop the sport of cycling in the United States and to achieve sustained international racing success, USA Cycling supports cyclists at all levels, from those just beginning in the sport and participating in fun rides to seasoned professionals. The organization not only identifies, develops, and selects cyclists to represent the United States in international competition, but also supports amateur bike racing through grassroots development programs and the provision of critical infrastructure to run organized racing.
USA Cycling is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2020. In 1920, the organization began as The Amateur Bicycle League of America and evolved to become the United States Cycling Federation in 1975 and ultimately USA Cycling, Inc. in 1995. USA Cycling’s 100,000+ members are comprised of racers and cyclists of all ages and abilities, coaches, officials, mechanics, and race directors.
About Visit Knoxville
Visit Knoxville (Knoxville Convention and Visitors Bureau) is the official CVB for the City of Knoxville and Knox County. Visit Knoxville is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, private company that works together with the community, business leaders and local and state government to further develop Knoxville as a premier leisure, meetings and travel destination. The Visit Knoxville Sports Commission is managed by Visit Knoxville and strives to bring world-class sporting events as well as amateur sporting type events to Knoxville, Tennessee.
# # #