Events

Zabriskie defends pro ITT title

This year hasn’t been stellar, results-wise, for Team CSC’s David Zabriskie. But his second consecutive time-trial win at the 2007 USA Cycling Professional Championships on Saturday may have brightened things up a bit.

By JoE Silva, VeloNews.com

Zabriskie defends his pro time-trial title

Zabriskie defends his pro time-trial title

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

This year hasn’t been stellar, results-wise, for Team CSC’s David Zabriskie. But his second consecutive time-trial win at the 2007 USA Cycling Professional Championships on Saturday may have brightened things up a bit.

Zabriskie, who will continue to wear the national champion’s stars-and-stripes jersey when he moves over to Team Slipstream-Chipotle next season, covered the 18.7-mile course in 39 minutes and 34 seconds — just a single tick of the clock faster than one of his teammates-to-be, former under-23 world time-trial champion Danny Pate. Another Slipstream rider, Tim Duggan, finished third at eight seconds back.

Sponsored by the Greenville Hospital System, the out-and-back time trial was held for the second time in the hills outside of Greenville, South Carolina. But this year’s course did without last year’s decidedly technical finish, now jokingly referred to as “Baldwin’s corner,” for the spot where Toyota-United’s Chris Baldwin misjudged a turn and crashed.

With just 33 starters, riders initially departed at two-minute intervals, moving to three-minute intervals for the final 10 men.

Duggan, who was third to roll out onto the course, hit the turnaround in 22 minutes, a time that stood as the benchmark for most of the day.

“I felt good. I’ve been riding well and time trialing well, and I was happy with my pace out there, so it felt good at the split,” Duggan said. “I thought I was at least close to Bobby Sweeting (AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork), if not ahead of him. And since I figured he was one of the guys to beat, I thought I was in an okay spot.”

Soon-to-be-teammate Pate finished second

Soon-to-be-teammate Pate finished second

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Momentarily posting the second fastest split time was none other than Tyler Hamilton. Hamilton, who has not raced since April, was a surprise addition to the start list. Estranged from his Italian-based Tinkoff Credit Systems, which he is suing, Hamilton left the start house in a generic skinsuit and finished sixth on the day, just behind CSC’s Bobby Julich.

Julich, who had ridden the course in the days leading up to the event, was clearly disappointed with his placing.

“The course was hard,” he said. “I just didn’t feel very good at all. On a course like that you can’t bluff it. One-day time trials are difficult for me to hit right on. I didn’t feel that good after I got back from Europe. I was hoping for a little magic, but it just didn’t click.”

In contrast, Baldwin, who finished eighth, felt he gave it everything he could.

“I was riding harder than I was last year. I couldn’t have done any better training or preparation,” he said.

Zabriskie, who eventually posted the best split time, knew he was in good shape when he caught sight of Baldwin.

“I knew he started three minutes ahead of me — but I didn’t know his form, so I kept on going as hard as I could go,” Zabriskie said.

Opting to ride, as he did last year, without a radio, Zabriskie was uncertain as to where he sat on the leader board until he closed in on the finish line.

“Coming into the finish here, I heard (the announcer) say, ‘He’s gotta finish in two seconds or he’s going to lose.’ So I started sprinting.”

It was a smart move. In the end, just a little over a second separated Zabriskie and Pate, and with Duggan taking third Slipstream scored a virtual sweep of the podium.

“It’s exciting.” Zabriskie said. “I’m excited for my future and for this team. I think I see good things for (Slipstream) next year with what happened today.”

And Saul Raisin returned to racing after a long recuperation from a serious crash

And Saul Raisin returned to racing after a long recuperation from a serious crash

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Sunday’s road race will see a decidedly bigger field tackle what should be a less selective course. Returning in hopes of defending his title will be Discovery Channel’s George Hincapie and teammate Levi Leipheimer, fresh from his second-place overall at the Tour of Germany.

Race note
The time trial marked marked the return to racing of Crédit Agricole’s Saul Raisin, who was first to roll out of the start house. Raisin had been sidelined for more than a year after sustaining a head injury in the 2006 Circuit de la Sarthe that temporarily left the 24-year-old rider in a coma.

When Raisin came across the line some 44 minutes later in 33rd place, he hugged fiancée Aleeza Zabriskie tightly, clearly overwhelmed with emotion.

“Just being here is a personal victory for me. It’s a dream come true from the start,” he said. “It was probably the easiest ride of my life, because I just sat there enjoying it (and) having a great time. It just felt good going fast. I had no stress going into the race. I was nervous just because it was my first race back.”

Greenville Hospital System USA Cycling Professional Championships
Greenville, SC
Individual time trial

1. David Zabriske, CSC, 39:34
2. Danny Pate, Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:01
3. Timothy Duggan, Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:08
4. Tom Zirbel, Priority Health-Bissell, at 0:05
5. Bobby Julich, CSC, at 0:49
6. Tyler Hamilton, Cervelo, same time
7. Michael Creed, Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:56
8. Christopher Baldwin, Toyota United, at 0:59
9. Michael Friedman, Slipstream-Chipotle, at 1:02
10. Ben Jacques-Maynes, Priority Health-Bissell, at 1:12

Complete results

Photo Gallery

Results

Greenville Hospital System USA Cycling Professional Championships
Greenville, SC
Individual time trial

1. David Zabriske, CSC, 39:34
2. Danny Pate, Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:01
3. Timothy Duggan, Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:08
4. Tom Zirbel, Priority Health-Bissell, at 0:05
5. Bobby Julich, CSC, at 0:49
6. Tyler Hamilton, Cervelo, same time
7. Michael Creed, Slipstream-Chipotle, at 0:56
8. Christopher Baldwin, Toyota United, at 0:59
9. Michael Friedman, Slipstream-Chipotle, at 1:02
10. Ben Jacques-Maynes, Priority Health-Bissell, at 1:12