By Neal Rogers
Outside of Nashville, Tennesee, the USCF National Time Trial Championships were held Thursday, with US Postal’s Dylan Casey and Saturn’s Kimberly Bruckner taking home the stars-and-stripes jerseys.
Heat, intermittent rains, and unpredictable wind soured the course for the women’s race. Bruckner, the overwhelming favorite who has been wearing the national champion’s jersey since winning both the national time trial and road race championships last year, was last to leave the staging area.
Prior to her arrival, the top time of 53:17 was posted by T-Mobile’s Amber Neben, a former mountain biker whose sixth-placed time trial at nationals last year impressed many in her first year racing on the road.
A small crowd gathered at the finish area awaiting Bruckner, and as she came into view it became clear that she had won by a large margin. At the line, the time gap over Neben was 1:02, granting Bruckner another year as national TT champion. At the finish, Bruckner enjoyed the win with her parents, who had made the long, hot drive from Colorado to Nashville to lend support.
The unassuming Bruckner admitted she had a nearly flawless performance. “After I passed Mari [Holden, 2000 national TT champion], I noticed myself letting up a little bit,” a relieved Bruckner told VeloNews. “But then I realized Mari wasn’t necessarily in second place. I was also worried about Amber and Dede [Demet-Barry]. I’m glad to have won, and I’m glad it’s over with.”
Neben acknowledged that while she would have liked the jersey, the strongest rider prevailed. “I’m a little disappointed,” Neben said. “I wanted to win, but I knew Kimberly was riding super strong, and I knew she was going good when I saw her on the way out. I did what I could today.”
As the men began filing out, the skies cleared, the sun came out, and the temperature rose into the 90’s.
With the majority of the finishing times hovering between 51 and 55 minutes, it was the sub-50 minute times that caught the attention of the spectators. Leading the race early was Phil Zajicek of Mercury, with a time of 48:56. However, the landscape of the race changed when Prime Alliance’s Chris Horner came across with a time of 47:13.
Besting the posted times by over a minute, it seemed Horner had clinched the title until Casey, one of the last to finish, came into view as the timer read 47:00. Horner could only shake his head as Casey crossed the line at 47:07, besting him by a mere six seconds.
Casey, the 1998 national TT champion who has been plagued with injuries the past two years, took satisfaction in his victory.
“I certainly did everything right as far as preparation,” Casey said. “The Postal Team was great, letting me have some freedom to stay home and prepare. I spoke with Johan [Brunyeel, USPS team director] and explained to him that the event is at the right date, while the team is racing the Tour. I sat down with the team, with Chris Carmichael, and drew out a plan. For the past two months I followed every step, and lived like a professional.”
“I rode the course twice yesterday,” Casey added. “It’s pretty hilly. Not really my speciality, but I have a pretty good watts vs. kilogram ratio. At the turnaround I let it rip, and with six kilometers to go my heart rate was maxed out, like 200 beats per minute.”
Race Note: 7UP/Nutra Fig’s John Lieswyn’s finishing time of 47:58, fifth best, was disqualified after a jury of race officials decided he had violated center line regulatons.
USA Cycling National Elite Time Trial Championships
Natchez Trace Parkway, Williamson County, Tennesee
1. Kimberly Bruckner, Saturn, 38 Km in 52:15 (27.12 mph); 2. Amber Neben, T-Mobile, at 1:02; 3. Tina Mayolo-Pic, Diet Rite, at 1:20; 4. Dede Demet-Barry, T-Mobile, at 2:04; 5. Jessica Philips, Saturn, at 2:07; 6. Heather Albert, Goldy’s, at 2:35; 7. Stacey McIlwaine, unattached, at 3:45; 8. Mari Holden, T-Mobile, at 4:00; 9. Catherine Bearce, CCB/Volkswagen, at 4:04; 10. Kori Kelly, Diet Rite, at 4:13;
1. Dylan Casey, US Postal Service, 38 Km in 47.07 (30.2 mph); 2. Chris Horner, Prime Alliance, at 0:06; 3. Chris Baldwin, Navigators, at 0:25; 4. Adam Sbeih, Mercury, at 0:49; 5. David Zabriskie, US Postal, at 0:56; 6. Thomas McCallion, Fairway/Cyfac, at 1:12; 7. Sandy Perrins, Logan Race Club, at 1:23; 8. Danny Pate, Prime Alliance, at 1:41; 9. Chris Fisher, Saturn, at 1:45; 10. Phil Zajicek, Mercury, at 1:49;