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MacGregor defends as TIAA-CREF dominates U23 championship

Ian MacGregor successfully defended his U23 national championship title in Park City, Utah, Saturday with a win in the 125-mile road race at the national cycling festival. MacGregor called the victory a "100 percent team effort" after an overall performance that saw three riders from the TIAA-CREF squad in the top four. Health Net’s Tyler Farrar also rode a strong race, but in the end he was simply outnumbered by a 12-rider team that many expected to have a dominant presence on the podium by day's end. Battered by rain and severe winds, only 47 of the 117-rider field finished. After

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MacGregor: A 100 percent team effort

MacGregor defends

MacGregor defends

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Ian MacGregor successfully defended his U23 national championship title in Park City, Utah, Saturday with a win in the 125-mile road race at the national cycling festival.

MacGregor called the victory a “100 percent team effort” after an overall performance that saw three riders from the TIAA-CREF squad in the top four.

Health Net’s Tyler Farrar also rode a strong race, but in the end he was simply outnumbered by a 12-rider team that many expected to have a dominant presence on the podium by day’s end.

Battered by rain and severe winds, only 47 of the 117-rider field finished.

After four trips around a 25-mile circuit, the remnants of a shattered peloton rode to Park City for the final 14-mile stretch that included two selective climbs responsible for helping to create the defining moment in most of the week’s road races.

MacGregor figured the day's last climb was where he could beat Farrar

MacGregor figured the day’s last climb was where he could beat Farrar

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

At the base of the first climb, Stu Gillespie (TIAA-CREF)had a 14-second gap on teammate Mike Lange while a group of six that contained MacGregor and Farrar dangled closely behind.

Near the crest of the hill, Lange had made contact with Gillespie and the two TIAA-CREF riders formed a two-man breakaway that looked as though it had a legitimate shot of staying away until the finish. With the clock ticking, Farrar attacked out of the chase group behind and MacGregor marked is move, and at the top of the first hill there were 25 seconds separating the two duos.

On the next longer and steeper hill, Farrar tried to close the gap to the leaders as MacGregor sat on his wheel waiting for the right moment to make his move. About halfway up the climb, MacGregor launched an attack that could not be equaled by Farrar.

With Farrar spent and the remainder of the original chase group losing even more time, the TIAA-CREF team essentially had the race in the bag barring any crashes or mechanical disasters in the next 10 miles.

Jay Ku leads the peloton on the chase.

Jay Ku leads the peloton on the chase.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

With Gillespie and Lange having done their share of an overall team effort, MacGregor took the lead and stopped the clock at 5 hours, 2 minutes and 17 seconds as he rode across the line for the national title.

41 seconds later, Farrar officially took the silver medal ahead of Lange and Gillespie respectively.

“That was a 100 percent team effort,” said MacGregor of the race. “Any one of those guys could have done that. Every single one of them rode 100 percent, and that’s how this team works. The guys rode absolutely amazing. Every rider on team TIAA-CREF gave it everything they had today. It had nothing to do with me, it was all them.”

Farrar, already an accomplished rider with the Health Net Team in the United States and USA Cycling’s national team in Europe, posed the biggest threat according to MacGregor and the strength of his team and smart tactics were the difference.

“All I could do was drop Tyler on the hill. He’s so much stronger than I am, and the only chance I have is that I weigh 130 pounds and he weighs 155 pounds. Do the math, I can go uphill a little faster, so that’s where I had to go,” explained MacGregor.

“The way that race played out, I’m very happy with second place,” conceded Farrar. “I mean TIAA-CREF rode that race so well today that they very much earned that result. A win would have been awesome, but Ian was amazing. When he went on the climb, there was nothing I could do. I was very impressed by the way they rode the race. It’s so nice so see young guys put it together so well like that.”

Nicholas Reistad of Advantage/Endeavor shows the effects of the day's effort

Nicholas Reistad of Advantage/Endeavor shows the effects of the day’s effort

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

In the men’s junior 17-18 criterium, Tejay Van Garderen claimed his tenth career national title with a late race attack from a break of four that included Adam Switters, Nick Frey and Brandon McKeever.

Van Garderen attacked his breakaway companions with three laps remaining and soloed across the line 10 seconds ahead of runner-up McKeever.

In the only other race on Saturday, 16-year-old phenom Daniel Summerhill completed a clean sweep of the junior men’s 15-16 races by adding a criterium title to his trophy case. Summerhill took the stars and stripes jersey in the road race too, but most impressive was his win in the time trial with a time six seconds faster than the winner of the junior men’s 17-18 category, Chris Stockburger.

The Park City Cycling Festival takes a break on Sunday before resuming with the U23 and master’s time trials on Antelope Island on Monday.

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