Taylor Phinney wins his third national time trial championship, and Carmen Small surprises pre-race favorites with big win in Winston-Salem.

Taylor Phinney is back — in a big way. The BMC rider, whose professional career was in doubt after a traumatic crash two years ago at U.S. Pro nationals in Chattanooga, Tennessee, stormed to his third career national time trial championship Friday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Phinney bested second-place finisher Tom Zirbel, of Rally, by 1:09.36 with a time of 1:02:46 on the 48km course. LottoNL – Jumbo’s Alexey Vermeulen was third, 1:12.14 back.

While the win was convincing, Phinney struggled with doubts throughout the hour-long time trial.

“Man, that was very hard,” Phinney said. “Anytime you’re doing an hour-long time trial it’s definitely a mental journey. I was going back and forth. Starting out I thought I was flying and then pretty much gave up on myself. And then I was like, ‘No, don’t do that,’ and I came back.”

Self-doubt aside, Phinney’s third national title positions him well for his main season goal: a spot on Team USA at the summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“I wanted to come and win this,” said the 25-year-old Coloradan. “And not only win it but deliver a strong performance, and I think I did that today, so it’s a good stepping stone and it makes my chances even better for making [the Olympics].”

Carmen Small defeats pre-race favorite Armstrong

In the women’s race, Cervelo – Bigla’s Carmen Small stunned with a victory ahead of pre-race favorite Kristin Armstrong, who had to settle for third place. Bepink’s Amber Neben finished second, 22.7 seconds behind Small’s time of 42:32.

At the finish, Small was ecstatic.

“I just left it all out there,” Small explained. “The last 300 meters I wanted to die, but I had my coach in my ear saying, ‘Go, go, go! Every second counts.’ I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty happy right now. I worked really hard over the winter, mostly for road racing. I came out in the spring and really pushed for results to prove I belong on the [Rio Olympic] team. But I got to come home a few weeks early, so I had a chance to do some proper preparation for the time trial. And today it all paid off.”

The result was a surprise, with Small taking more than a minute out of pre-race favorite and two-time Olympic Gold medalist, Kristin Armstrong – who attributed her less than stellar performance to dizziness caused by North Carolina’s heat and humidity.

“The humidity was really hard for me today, and so my body just didn’t cool. I gave it everything I had, but it wasn’t my day.”

For Armstrong, who has spent the past year working to earn a return trip to the Summer Games, the day was a disappointment, but hopefully not a deal-breaker.

“The good news is it was not Rio today. It’s all about preparation. I was at the Tour of California last week, so my form is on. I don’t think there’s any doubt that those who were expected to win today weren’t on the top step, but the good news is that I’ve been consistent in all of my performances. I’ve been on the podium. I’ve been on the top step. So this is going to make me go back and really think about what I need to do before Rio, but I feel confident still. It’s two and a half months away. Amber and Carmen had better days, but I really came back for one day: August 10 [the Olympic time trial]. I’m looking forward to it.”

The remaining spots on Team USA will be selected via coaches’ pick on June 24.

Men’s results

 

Women’s results