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AUGUSTA, Georgia (VN) — Robert Bush (Chipotle-First Solar Development Team) earned himself another stars-and-stripes jersey on Saturday during the USA Cycling road national championships.
Bush out-kicked Tanner Putt (BMC-Hincapie Sportswear) to win the 168km under-23 championship road race at Fort Gordon. The two hit the line in the same time — four hours, 13 minutes and 58 seconds.
A second later, Gavin Mannion (Bontrager-Livestrong) crossed for third, rounding out the U-23 championship podium.
It was a sweltering day in Georgia, with temperatures in the mid-90s, as the 138-rider field took to the circuit.
Bush, Putt and Mannion escaped the bunch with about 40km to go and quickly built a lead of of nearly two minutes.
The break “was remarkably silent,” Bush said. “Everybody was alone with their thoughts. Everyone was trying to make sure they were able to give it their all to the finish line.”
With one of the leading three certain to win the race, the cat-and-mouse began. And with 500 meters remaining, the leaders came to a standstill.
Bush hit the gas first, leaving Putt and Mannion behind, and carried his sprint through the finish line, holding off a hard-charging Putt, with Mannion taking the bronze.
Bush, who has won three individual national championships, called this victory the sweetest of his career.
“It feels great to win the road race,” Bush said. “This is the big event of the weekend. I really wanted to win and I’m very happy that I did.
“We knew it was going to be a long race, so we had to be patient. We had guys that were willing to go in the early moves. Some of my teammates (Adam (Leibovitz), Rob Squire and Anders Newbury) were all over the early breakaways, which took pressure off me. At one point, Robin Carpenter was up the road, so I could sit on everything. That was perfect.
“It was really a team race. That’s how we won it last year, with great teamwork. That was the plan last year — just use the whole team.”
Editor’s note: Check back to VeloNews.com for updates from Georgia.