Joey Rosskopf (Rally Cycling) powered into the winner’s jersey at the 2021 U.S. professional national road race championship.
Rosskopf has twice won the time trial (2017 and 2018), but this is his first win in the road race championship.
“Unbelievable! I always targeted the time trail because it’s more in your control and less left to chance,” Rosskopf said.
With 190.7 kilometers of racing, Joey Rosskopf, Robin Carpenter, Kyle Murphy, and Nathan Brown (all Rally Cycling) Ian Garrison (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo), Lawson Craddock, defending national champion Alex Howes, and Tejay van Garderen (all EF Education-Nippo), Chad Haga (Team DSM), Brent Bookwalter (Team Bike Exchange), and Alexey Vermeulen were among some of the favorites for winning the stars and stripes jersey.
How it happened
In the break, at 90km to go, and with a two-minute advantage, were Sam Boardman (L39ion of L.A.), George Simpson (Project Echelon), and Kyle Murphy (Rally Cycling)
Chasing was former world Everesting record-holder Sean Gardner (CS Velo) but his attempt to bridge was brought back at 70km.
The defending champion Howes was on the front of the peloton, with Bookwalter, Simmons, and Chris Reikert (Mike’s Bikes), all trying to shut down the break at 1:40 advantage.
The gap, which had been as much as 5:30, was brought to one minute.
Will Barta (EF Education-Nippo) did a heroic job to bring the gap down to 35 seconds. And then his day was over, at 55km to go, when he swung off.
Carpenter and Haga attacked the main bunch, to try to bridge to the break which had stretched the advantage back out to 55 seconds.
Murphy dropped his break-mates and went it alone, but Boardman made a surge to get back on terms with the Rally rider. This move, too, was brought back at 40km to go, when Bookwalter went to the front of the chase group.
Strength in numbers
It was clear that Rally was trying to swarm the front with superior numbers. Of the 10 riders one minute up on the main group, three were Rally Cycling, giving the UCI ProTeam the numerical superiority.
Howes, looking to repeat as champion, went on the move to get to the front group, while up ahead, Rosskopf’s move lasted into the climb on the last lap.
With the race now just at 8km to go, Rosskopf dangled at five seconds up on the chasers. He was brought back at 6km to go, and a counter move was launched by his teammates Murphy and Manion.
The final 6km was cat-and-mouse on the front, with constant attacks firing up as soon as the previous attack was neutralized. With 40 seconds advantage, it was clear that the winner would come from this group.
And then, at 3km to go, Rally had only two riders in the bunch. Olympian Craddock marked every move from the front, and he ran out of matches to burn.
Rosskopf again went to the front of the small group when Craddock went up the other side of the road, chased by Murphy, and then Bookwalter. Murphy marked the other riders, while Rosskopf launched his final attack.
The remaining 1km was all Rosskopf, who timed his final attack perfectly, through the winding and punchy final few turns.
“We divided the team into the first and second half of the race. Just to give an opportunity to a few guys to try to float as much as possible, you know, without taking themselves out of the race. But just save, conserve, conserve, conserve until the second half,” Rosskopf said. “It worked amazingly, and so it’s hard to win this because if you don’t have the numbers, all the strongest guys are just staring at each other.”
2021 U.S. Professional National Road Race Championships Results
- Joey Rosskopf (Rally Cycling), 4:38:11
- Brent Bookwalter (Team BikeExchange), at 00:03
- Kyle Murphy (Rally Cycling), at 00:05
- Alexey Vermeulen (Canyon-Shimano-Q-M), at 00:06
- Lawson Craddock (EF Education-Nippo), at 00:10
- Chad Haga (Team DSM), at 00:13
- Gavin Mannion (Rally Cycling), 1:13
- Sam Boardman (L39ion of Los Angeles), at 1:41
- Gage Hecht (Aevolo), at 1:43
- Scott McGill (Aevolo), at 2:32