The 2014 "Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road & Time Trial National Championships got underway Saturday with USA Cycling crowning two new national champions at the Volkswagen Chattanooga Plant. Taylor Phinney (Boulder, Colo./BMC Racing Team) and Alison Powers (Pinecliffe, Colo./UnitedHealthcare) both reclaimed national time trial titles last won in 2010 and 2008, respectively.
After several years away from the event, Phinney returned in fine form as he dethroned defending champ Tom Zirbel (Boulder, Colo./Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) by 51 seconds over the 30.9-kilometer course to capture the coveted Stars-and-Stripes jersey. His winning time in the men's time trial was 37:48.92 as Phinney passed the two riders in front of him on the course who started one and two minutes prior.
"I'm really happy with this," said Phinney after his victory. "This is a big weight off my shoulders. I was confident going into today, but I was actually super nervous, mainly because it was one of the first time trials I've gone into where I've been the overwhelming favorite. I still can kind of play the underdog card in all the World Tour time trials, so this is the first one where everyone was looking at me, so I was quite happy to pull it off."
Although Zirbel found himself trailing Phinney by 13 seconds at the halfway time check, he still felt confident he could make up the deficit on the second lap.
"I felt like I was still in it at that point," said Zirbel. "I usually try to negative split in the TT and go a little conservative. For whatever reason I kind of fell apart that second lap and didn't realize it was happening until I was going into the corners a lot slower than the first lap. My effort was there but I just didn't have the legs in the second lap."
Joining Phinney and Zirbel on the podium in third place was David Williams (Grand Rapids, Mich./5-Hour Energy p/b Kenda) who came in 1:24 behind Phinney's winning time.
"It was a real honor to race guys like Taylor and Tom," Williams said. "To have them (starting) behind me was a huge motivational factor. Personally, this was a big goal for me."
In the women's time trial, Powers also displayed top form as she bested defending champion and last year's world championship bronze medalist Carmen Small (Durango, Colo./Specialized-lululemon) by a 29-second margin, posting a winning time of 42:23.09. Powers finished third in both the time trial and road race at last year's nationals in Chattanooga.
"As a first-year women's team with such a big organization as UnitedHealthcare, it really feels good," said Powers of her national title. "After last year, I was very disappointed, but the cool thing about disappointment is you learn from mistakes - you learn what you did wrong, you learn what you can do better - so I've had 364 days to learn and make improvement."
Small said she came into the race as the defending champion but with less lofty goals.
"I chose not to get any splits (from her team car)," said Small of her strategy. "I was thinking top 10 would be a great ride. Going into it I had a completely different mindset so I'm pretty happy with second place today. Alison rode a great race and I couldn't have gone any harder today. It's too bad I lost the jersey but it's not like I lost it to just anyone. Alison is a returning champion and she's an incredible bike racer."
Small's Specialized-lululemon teammate Evelyn Stevens (Dennis, Mass.) rounded out the women's time trial podium in third place with a time of 43:26.02, edging another Specialized-lululemon rider, Tayler Wiles (Fairfax, Calif.) by just over a second.
"All of us want to win, but I gave the best I could today and I got beat, so I'll take third but it motivates you to get better that's for sure," Stevens said.
Powers, Small and Stevens will make up the U.S. women's individual time trial team at the 2014 UCI Road World Championships in Ponferrada, Spain, this September. Powers qualifies with her victory on Saturday, while Small qualified via her bronze-medal performance at last year's world championships and Stevens by virtue of her gold medal at the 2014 Pan American Continental Road Championships earlier this month.
U.S. Paralympics Para-cycling Time Trial
Before the pro men's and women's competitions began, the U.S. Paralympics Para-cycling Time Trial event was staged on one lap of the same course.
Steven Peace (San Diego, Calif./HTB-BMC) won the men's T2 race in 28:45.62, Daniel Cnossen (Winter Park, Colo.) was the men's H5 champion with a time of 26:31.89, Tom Davis (Fremont, Ind.) captured the men's H4 title in 26:06.66, William Lachenauer (Reno, Nev./Team Roger C. Peace) topped the men's H3 standings with a clocking of 25:54.05, William Groulx (Portland, Ore./Paralyzed Veterans Racing) took the men's H2 title in 29:11.00, Mark Gyulafia (Westwood, Kan./Blue River Bicycle Club) won the men's C5 division in 45:00.9, Jeffrey Martin (Oceanside, Calif./Team Roger C. Peace) claimed the men's C4 title in 44:02, Joseph Berenyi (Oswego, Ill./ABD Cycling Team) was the men's C3 winner in 23:03, William Lister (Huntington Beach, Calif./Team Rokform) was fastest in men's C2 racing with a time of 25:36 and Todd Key (Scottsdale, Ariz./Team Winded Development) placed first in the men's C1 category in 25:58.
The women's races saw victories by Beth Hope (Santee, Calif./Paralyzed Veterans Racing) in the T2 race with a time of 49:02.2, Oksana Masters (Louisville, Ky.) in the H5 race in 37:11.70, Thea Rosa (Victory Velo Racing) in the H4 class with a time of 34:45.30, Marianna Davis (Salt Lake City, Utah/U.S. Paralympics) in H3 with a clocking of 30:19.10, Greta Neimans (Colorado Springs, Colo./TWENTY16 Pro Cycling) in C5 in 23:56.96, Shawn Morelli (Leavenworth, Kan./Santa Fe Trails Bicycles) in the C4 race with a winning time of 24:05, Jamie Whitmore (Mount Aukum, Calif.) in the C3 division in 25:39 and Allison Jones (Colorado Springs, Colo./Globalbike Racing) in the C2 class with a time of 28:41.
Here are the Complete results.
Monday's Road Race
After a rest day on Sunday, the riders will vie for national championships in the road race on Monday, May 26. A challenging new section has been added to the road race course, but downtown Chattanooga and the tough climb up Lookout Mountain will be featured prominently as they were in 2013. The men’s and women’s races will begin with a 5.1-mile start circuit -- three circuits for the women and four for the men. The course then takes the riders on a relatively flat run out Broad Street to begin the climb up Ochs Highway. The ascent up Ochs Highway is approximately 2.75 miles and climbs over 1100 feet each lap. The race will pass through Lookout Mountain to Scenic Highway, and return to downtown via Broad Street. Men will complete four laps up the climb, while the women will do two laps. The “long lap” is 16.5 miles in distance.
New for the race this year is the “wall” in North Chattanooga up Kent Street, a one-block section of road with grades of up to 20 percent. The men and women will face this challenge on each of the “long laps” as well as on three shorter 5.4-mile finishing circuits. The course will cross the Market Street Bridge and Veterans Bridge each lap, and spectators will see the riders cross through the start/finish line 11 times during the men’s race and eight times during the women’s race.
Plus, there is an added incentive...
This year, the winners of the men’s and women’s road races on Monday, May 26, will each receive a one-year loan of a 2015 Volkswagen GTI. The all-new seventh generation GTI will be available for sale in the U.S. this summer, featuring a turbocharged, four-cylinder engine and an available roof rack for cyclists.
The women's road race opens Monday's racing at 9 a.m., when they'll begin their 104-kilometer contest. The USA Cycling Handcycling Criterium National Championship is slated to begin at 12:30 p.m. The 165-kilometer pro men's road race, which begins at 1:30 p.m., caps the event.
Cycling fans can follow the entire event live virtually anywhere in the world through the Tour Tracker application. The coverage will include a live video stream from the road race online and an app that is available for iOS and Android devices. Tour Tracker will also provide fans with streaming video of the events from several different vantage points. The primary live view will update viewers on the race situation, with position and time gaps between the breakaway, chase and peloton. This will also offer a GPS map and profile of the course and a text play-by-play. Additionally, the viewer can see photos and videos from the day's events as well as final results, king/queen of the mountain and most courageous rider standings. The Tour Tracker app can be downloaded in the App Store or from our event webpage at the following links (iTunes) (Android) (web).