GREENVILLE, South Carolina (VN) — David Zabriskie made it five-for-five in Greenville, South Carolina, winning Saturday’s individual time trial at the USA Cycling Professional National Championships with more than a half-minute to spare.
Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervélo) covered the 20.7-mile course in 40:23 to beat Tom Zirbel (Jamis-Sutter Home) by 31 seconds and Matthew Busche (RadioShack) by 1:09.
“Wearing the stars and stripes, I take a lot of pride in that,” said Zabriskie. “I gave it everything I had. I came here for one thing, to get that jersey, and I did it.”
As it has since 2008, Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (ICAR) hosted the race against the clock. Zabriskie had never lost on the rolling, flower-petal-shaped course on the outskirts of Greenville and came in as the overwhelming favorite after storming the Solvang TT in the Amgen Tour of California a week ago.
Set on a low-gradient hillside near the North Carolina border, the course is a collection of quarter-mile false flats, three technical chicanes, a long, moderate descent and a low-gradient ramp to the finish. Defending champion Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) started last, at 1:10 p.m. Zabriskie started one minute before the 20-year-old five-time world track and U23 champion.
Chase Pinkham (Bissell) started first and set a time of 42:21 that held for nearly an hour.
Former nationals medalist Danny Pate (HTC-Highroad) was the first of the heavy hitters to roll out. Despite a solid 42-minute ride, Zirbel, who started a minute behind, came roaring by.
The big Jamis man, who signed with his new team in April after his controversial doping sanction expired, rode without the weight of expectations.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I didn’t have a time trial at California … I had no right to expect to win here with my preparation.”
A week after his Amgen time trial ended after 8km with a slipped seatpost, Zirbel had his TT. Just as he did in 2009, Zirbel stopped the clock with the fastest time of the day, this time a 40:54.
“Man, I really slowed down in the three corners,” he said minutes later. “I don’t think I went as hard as I did in 2009. That’s something I need to work on.”
Despite his reservations, Zirbel’s time held up as the afternoon waned. Still recovering from a fractured collarbone, pre-race favorite Brent Bookwalter (BMC) faded in his third lap to finish in 41:22. RadioShack’s Jason McCartney clocked a 42:19. Zirbel led the third time trial of his comeback with four riders remaining.
Busche rolled off the ramp at 1:07 p.m. with expectations similar to Zirbel’s. A week after breaking the legs of Chris Horner’s GC rivals on Mount Baldy in the queen stage of the Amgen Tour, Busche entered the weekend focused on Monday’s road race and didn’t know what Saturday would bring.
“I gave it some effort and I knew coming off California I should have good form,” he said. “I could tell I was having a good day, not only by how I was feeling, but with the course doubling back on itself I was able to judge myself off of other riders.”
Busche watched as Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad), who started a minute behind, faded. He saw Zabriskie flying, but also saw Phinney going backward. Zirbel’s time stood another challenge when Busche came through in 41:22.
There were three riders left on course and Van Garderen’s and Phinney’s time splits proved they would come up short. The defending champion would have to settle for seventh best on the day.
Zirbel relaxed in a camp chair under the Jamis team tent near the finish as Zabriskie stood on the pedals out of the 180-degree turnaround at the top of the course and blasted into the downhill section where he’d passed Van Garderen a lap earlier. Zabriskie knows the taste of the national TT title more than any other American rider in history and he drove fiercely up the finish ramp.
“Today I just wanted to destroy myself,” he said. “I knew Tom’s time and knew I would have to fight to beat that. I had to give it full gas.”
Full gas it was— and when Zabriskie came through in 40:23, his second fastest time at ICAR, he secured his sixth national TT title since turning pro with 7-UP-Colorado Cyclist in 1999.
- 1. David Zabriskie, Team Garmin-Cervélo, 40:23.5
- 2. Tom Zirbel, Jamis-Sutter Home, 40:54.8
- 3. Matthew Busche, Team RadioShack, 41:22.1
- 4. Brent Bookwalter, BMC Racing Team, 41:22.2
- 5. Benjamin King, Team RadioShack, 41:42.6