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Kendall Ryan repeats at US Pro Road National Championships elite women’s criterium

L39ion of Los Angeles sweeps the podium in Knoxville.

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Kendall Ryan (L39ion of Los Angeles) successfully defended her stars and stripes jersey on the second day of racing at the 2022 US Pro Road National Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The 29-year-old came around the final corner with no competition on her heels except for her teammate Skyler Schneider, who took second. Ryan’s sister, Alexis, took third, making it a L39ion trifecta after 70 minutes of racing. 

“My job was super easy,” Ryan said after the finish. “I know the sweet spot on this course, and (my team) just captured and killed everything. I wanted to defend the jersey so bad. Total team effort today! It’s crazy that we went one, two, and three.”

The women’s field took to the hot and steamy 1.7-kilometer course after first taking a knee at the start/finish line after the Supreme Court’s controversial decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, striking down the longstanding federal protections for abortions. 

“The national championship is a symbol of patriotism.” Alexis Ryan said before the event. “And it was obviously a really tragic moment for women in this country what happened today. I think as athletes, we are role models to younger women, but we are also role models to the entire world, and I think it’s important for us to speak our minds and make a statement with what we’re doing here.” 

Once racing got underway, there was nothing solemn about the proceedings. Riders kept a close eye on one another through the first few laps, unwilling to let a break form early on. Multiple-time national champion Coryn Labecki (Team Jumbo-Visma) periodically flirted with an escape during the first few laps of the 70-minute race, but was closely watched whenever she attempted a split.

The 51-strong field also included what was perhaps the first-ever appearance of a mother and daughter at the national championships, with veteran pro Debbie Milne (SupraBars.com) working alongside her daughter Caitlin. 

By the time racing had reached the half-hour mark, riders were beginning to fall off the back of the field, each remaining effort up and over the hill on the backside of the course stretching the group out further and further. But once the final lap counter was put into play, it was starting to appear that we would be looking at a group sprint out of the final tight turn leaving Clinch Ave. 

With five laps remaining, the L39ion squad began to line up one behind the other to set up returning champion Kendall Ryan, but right at the tail of their lead out Labecki was lying in wait. Lisa Cordova (Live Play Real Estate) made a last-ditch effort to rewrite the script with four laps to go, but she was swept up just as rain started to fall on the course. Labecki charged up the final climb looking for a final opportunity, but she was no match for the black and gold train of L39ion, who handily launched Kendall Ryan up and out of the final turn to another victory and a team sweep of the podium with Schneider second and Ryan in third. Labecki, who had the numbers stacked against her, would have to settle for fourth. 

Full results:

U.S. nationals women's 1
U.S. women's nationals 2