Jonathan Brown (Hagens Berman Axeon) soloed to a national road title on Sunday, jumping clear of a small escape group in the final half hour of racing to take the win.
The 21-year-old from Tennessee attacked inside the last two 12.7-kilometer (7.9-mile) laps of a 15-lap circuit in Knoxville. He quickly gained time on fellow escapees Gavin Mannion (UnitedHealthcare), Jacob Rathe (Jelly Belly-Maxis), and Robin Carpenter (Rally Cycling), with the larger peloton already too far in the rearview mirror to factor in the finale.
Despite a concerted effort by the trio behind, Brown maintained his sizable gap on the rolling circuit as the kilometers ticked down to the finish. Carpenter jumped out of the pursuit group inside the final four kilometers, but Brown stayed clear to the take a convincing win. Carpenter settled for second, with Rathe finishing four seconds ahead of Mannion to take third.
“It was giving me goosebumps every time I made a lap, to hear my name. Then going into the last lap I said ‘I can do this,’” said Brown.
“It’s huge. We’ve been working for this for a long, long time and it feels amazing.”
An aggressive day of racing paid off for Hagens Berman Axeon. The Pro Continental team fought to put riders in multiple early breakaway attempts before Brown made it into the decisive four-man move — initially spurred by Mannion — on the sixth lap of the race.
With the quartet’s gap growing, the strung out peloton behind soon split into smaller chase groups. A 10-rider selection that included the likes of Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing), Alex Howes (EF Education First-Drapac) and other notables formed around the midway point of the race.
The four men off the front, however, worked well together to stay safely in the race lead.
As it became clear that the win would come from the breakaway, Brown powered clear solo and rapidly built up an advantage. He held out to take the win, earning a moment to celebrate with older brother Nate Brown (EF Education First-Drapac) at the finish and a year in the stars and stripes jersey.
“I moved here a month ago, so it makes it even more special,” said the younger Brown. “I’m just so excited. All year, I’ve been training for this. I’ve had a rough last two years, this is just unbelievable.”
U.S. Pro men’s road race nationals, top 10
- 1. Jonathan Brown, Hagens Berman Axeon, in 4:41:11
- 2. Robin Carpenter, Rally Cycling, at 0:00:45
- 3. Jacob Rathe, Jelly Belly-Maxxis, at 0:01:17
- 4. Gavin Mannion, UnitedHealthcare, at 0:01:21
- 5. Benjamin King, Dimension Data, at 0:02:41
- 6. Kiel Reijnen, Trek-Segafredo, at 0:02:41
- 7. Brent Bookwalter, BMC Racing, at 0:02:42
- 8. Lawrence Warbasse, Aqua Blue Sport, at 0:02:44
- 9. Thomas Revard, Hagens Berman Axeon, at 0:02:28
- 10. Brandon McNulty, Rally Cycling, at 0:03:24