What a weekend for Amber Neben (Team VéloCONCEPT Women), who doubled up in Knoxville, Tennessee on Sunday. A day after winning her second USPRO national time trial title, the 42-year-old reigning two-time UCI women’s time trial world champion rallied to capture her second ‘Stars and Stripes’ jersey with a national road race victory.
Neben took the win ahead of Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) and Ruth Winder (UnitedHealthcare), who rounded out the podium in second and third respectively in 101-kilometer (62.8-mile) road race.
“The break had been away and it was really quiet in the back and I thought ‘I didn’t know if anyone was going to chase this back’ and then it started,” Neben told media after the race about her late race chase of remaining breakaway rider and Emily Newsom (Team Elevate) “Then we caught the majority of the break except for the one rider, and as soon as it sat up, I knew for me I wasn’t going to be able to stay with those girls if they attacked on that short little climb, so I had to go early and I just went for it.”
Newsom had held a 1 minute 40 second lead over her five former breakaway mates, which included Janelle Cole (UnitedHealthcare), Holly Breck (Sho-Air TWENTY20), Monica Volk (Rally Cycling Women), Jennifer Tetrick (TIBCO-SVB) and Abigail Mickey (Colavita/Bianchi), and a 3 minute lead over the field with only three of the 7.9-mile (12.6km) laps remaining. It even appeared the Texan was going to successfully utilize her state championship time trial skills to ride off with a shocking win, however, Neben was able to patiently able to hold back until the right time to make her move.
“That first lap I thought it wasn’t that hard of a course, so I didn’t think it was going to be super selective in the sense of attrition, so I was really waiting for the other teams to go, but I think that first move that had everybody in it really changed the dynamics,” Neben explained. “So I had to be really patient. I almost tried to bridge across earlier, but I am pretty thankful I didn’t at this point and time.
“Nationals are always interesting,” she continued. “They are always unpredictable and today was sort of the same.”
When asked where the weekend’s results rank on her illustrious palmarés, Neben said it is certainly near the top.
“Probably one of the highlights,” she said. “Winning worlds, you can’t top that, but winning back-to-back national championships is really totally unexpected and I am beyond words right now.”
For 24-year-old Rivera, the second-place result following her taking the bunch sprint marked her second straight silver medal at nationals.
“Didn’t really expect a solo rider [to take the win today], but if it’s Amber Neben — a world champion — you can totally except that,” Rivera said afterwards. “There was definitely some games and you could see some cat and mouse [in the chase], which ruined the momentum of the group when we were bringing her back slowly, but once those games start it’s hard to get the momentum going again.”
Results, top 10
- 1. Amber NEBEN, TEAM VÉLOCONCEPT WOMEN, in 2:49:34
- 2. Coryn RIVERA, TEAM SUNWEB, at :11
- 3. Ruth WINDER, UNITEDHEALTHCARE PRO CYCLING, at :11
- 4. Alexis RYAN, CANYON SRAM RACING, at :11
- 5. Emma WHITE, RALLY CYCLING WOMEN, at :11
- 6. Lauren STEPHENS, TEAM TIBCO-SVB, at :11
- 7. Megan GUARNIER, BOELS DOLMANS CYCLING TEAM, at :11
- 8. Leah THOMAS, SHO-AIR TWENTY20, at :11
- 9. Emily NEWSOM, TEAM ELEVATE RACING, at :15
- 10. Brianna WALLE, TEAM TIBCO-SVB, at :15