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Editors’ Picks: U.S. Pro road nationals

Who will win U.S. Pro nationals? Our experts name their favorites for the TTs and road races in Winston-Salem.

Here are our rapid-fire predictions for the men’s and women’s TT and road races at U.S. Pro nationals. The VeloNews editorial staff will make predictions for major races throughout the season.

John Bradley, editor in chief
TT picks:
– Kristin Armstrong
– Taylor Phinney
Road race picks:
– Megan Guarnier
– Alex Howes

Armstrong owns American women’s TTs until further notice. I just don’t see anyone beating her. Phinney was fastest American in the TT at worlds last fall and rode on BMC’s world championship TTT squad. He’s still not at his best, but he doesn’t have to be.

The punchy course is good for Guarnier, and she manages to win even on courses that aren’t. Plus, since she already booked her ticket to Rio last fall, I would imagine she’d like to be able to go in there as the national champ. Alex Howes is a strong one-day rider coming off a nice rest after a big spring. And he was fourth last year. I think he can put it all together this weekend.

Spencer Powlison, news director
TT picks:
– Evelyn Stevens
– Taylor Phinney
Road race picks:
– Coryn Rivera
– Evan Huffman

Yes, I know Armstrong is the odds-on favorite, but Stevens is the world hour record holder, so that counts for something, right? Phinney is the comeback kid — it’s been a couple years coming, but this year he’ll finally get to wear that stars-and-stripes skinsuit after he wins it.

The nationals road race always surprises me, and with a new course this year, I expect it to be even more unpredictable. Rivera is riding quite well, but I think her sprint will be decisive in what will likely be a cagey race. Similarly, the men’s race often ends up dominated by negative tactics, and I think Huffman will benefit from a stalemate between the WorldTour guys, which always seems to be a factor.

Chris Case, managing editor
TT picks:
– Kristen Armstrong
– Taylor Phinney
Road race picks:
– Megan Guarnier
– Kiel Reijnen

Armstrong is the machine. Phinney will avenge his third-place finish behind Andrew Talansky at the Tour of California time trial.

Guarnier is not just the fastest American at the moment, but one of the fastest and on-form women in the world. Kiel for the win. Perhaps his time has finally come, and his skill-set matches up well with what looks to be a punchy course.

Dan Cavallari, tech editor
TT picks:
– Taylor Phinney
– Kristin Armstrong
Road race picks:
– Megan Guarnier
– Brent Bookwalter

Is there anyone better than Armstrong? Is there anyone with more experience? I think not. And with a trip to Rio on the line, look for the veteran to punch her ticket. Go Phinney! A long time trial and no Talansky to compete with spells good things for the Boulderite.

Guarnier is already good to go for Rio, and the course plays to her strengths. Coryn Rivera will give her a run for her money if the finish is fast and crowded, but Guarnier will show why she’s the defending national champ. The men’s race is a tough one to call, since there are so many favorites. Bookwalter won’t have much support, but he’s got good legs. In a race that seems like it’s anyone’s to win, Bookwalter’s got as good a shot as any of the top favorites, but look out for Phinney and Kiel Reijnen.

Kristen Legan, associate editor
TT picks:
– Kristin Armstrong
– Taylor Phinney
Road race picks:
– Coryn Rivera
– Kiel Reijnen

This is a no-brainer. Armstrong wouldn’t jump back into racing if she didn’t think she could win. The two-time Olympic gold medalist has been racing strong this spring and is looking to solidify her ticket to Rio. While I don’t think Armstrong can be taken down, I’d love to see Evelyn Stevens pull an upset on the day. Phinney proved he was back to fighting shape at the Amgen Tour of California’s time trial stage last week. Fresh legs and a focused agenda at the national championships should help put Phinney back on the top step of the podium.

Megan Guarnier and Evie Stevens will be tough to top as the two Boels – Dolmans teammates and friends work really well together. But Coryn will have a whole team behind her, keeping her safe and protected for a fast finish. Her sprinting power is hard to match and the tiny rider has proven her climbing abilities, finishing just behind Marianna Vos and Evie Stevens at the Tour of California’s hilly first stage. Whoever crosses the line first, this is going to be the most exciting race of the weekend. I really, really hope Reijnen takes the win this year. After last year’s heartbreaking puncture in the last few kilometers, the nicest rider in the peloton is due for some luck this year. It would also be killer to see the spry Alex Howes cross the line first if Reijnen isn’t there.

Dane Cash, web editor and reporter
TT picks:
– Kristin Armstrong
– Taylor Phinney
Road race picks:
– Megan Guarnier
– Taylor Phinney

Armstrong’s excellent ride in the Women’s Amgen Tour would suggest that she’s on very good form right now — and Kristin Armstrong on good form should be unbeatable in the time trial. Nobody on this start list has the TT chops of a healthy Taylor Phinney, and like Armstrong, he showed in the Amgen Tour that he’s feeling strong right now.

Guarnier is a cut above the competition right now. She is not only fresh off a big win in California; she is also leading the entire Women’s WorldTour at the moment. That makes her a favorite in North Carolina. Phinney has a great shot at winning two national titles if he can take advantage of the technical road race course and put in a timely attack. And even if he doesn’t, he also has one of the best finishing kicks of anyone in the field, though he may not get to show it that often when riding on the WorldTour.