By Kathie Reid
Mike Olheiser (warp9bikes.com/Tristar) put 43 seconds into his nearest competitor in Friday’s time trial, taking back-to-back elite national champion jerseys after his win in the road race on Thursday. Adrian Hegyvary (Hagens-Berman) took second, while Greg Krause (MapMyRide-Giant) took third.
In the women’s elite time trial, the time between the top three was much slimmer, as Jessica Phillips (Team Lip Smacker) took the gold just one second ahead of Evelyn Stevens (Webcor Builders), and just 23 seconds ahead of defending champion, Alison Powers (Team Type 1).
The time trial course was familiar to many of the men in the 76-strong field, as it was run on the same course as the Skyliner Time Trail in the previous week’s Cascade Cycling Classic, with an additional loop added to the out-and-back course for a total of 21 miles.
Hegyvary was confident that competing on nearly the same course at Cascade had really helped him.
“I did Cascade last week, and totally blew up on the climb,” he said. “I knew this one was going to be longer and a little bit hotter, so I went out easier. So the first half didn’t feel like I was really going that fast, but it felt like I couldn’t really go much faster for the whole time. I’d heard that the women’s times were all around 50, so I figured it’d be about 45-46 for us … On the last little lollipop section, I felt like I couldn’t do much better. I was obviously hoping for the top spot, but I couldn’t have done 40 seconds faster to beat Olheiser … I was hoping after his hard day yesterday, that I’d have a little more in the tank”
Twenty-five-year-old Hegyvary was racing in his third elite national championships, and came in 9th in 2008.
“Last year was the only year I felt I did well, and obviously this year is better,” he said. “Hopefully this’ll be my last year at elite nationals, and next year I’ll be at US Pro, but, crossing my fingers!”
Olheiser said he came into the day surprisingly relaxed given his effort in the previous day’s road race. “I felt pretty good … you’ve already done the course, so you know what to expect,” he said. “I was unbelievably relaxed. My buddy asked me why I was talking so much this morning. He tells me I put my ‘Mr. Potato Head angry eyes’ in usually in the morning before a TT.”
Rather than feeling spent from the day before, 34-year-old Olheiser, who came into the day having already won three TT championships – two at masters worlds and one at masters nationals – felt like the road race had actually helped him.
“It really kind of broke the ice yesterday, and it really took a lot of pressure off me even though I’ve been really time trialing pretty well this year,” he said. “The legs felt pretty good when I pre-rode this morning, but it’s really kind of a crap shoot after you do a hard hundred miles yesterday to see how those legs are going to open up and go.”
The same … but different
Like the men, many of the 52 competitors in the women’s field had also raced a similar course in the Skyliner’s Time Trial the previous week. Phillips and Powers even took the same podium spots this time around, as Phillips won that time trial and Powers came in third. This time, though, was different for Phillips.
“I felt way better at the time trial at Cascade,” Phillips said. “I was really tired today. Yesterday was a really good race. I think Cascade took a lot out of everyone, and I’m really tired. I’m really happy, though.”
Phillips was the elite road national champion in 2002, but said this win is sweeter.
“It’s better I think because road nationals is part your ability, but it’s part luck,” she explained. “So that was kind of luck, and this, I feel, is more how I rode.”
Additionally, though she did win the Skyliner’s Time Trial, she did not make the podium presentation, as she did not know she won until it was too late. This time, things were a little different.
“I was so nervous, and I don’t have any staff here or anything,” she said. “I rode through the finish line. I didn’t listen to anything. I rode straight to my van and put on my headphones, and I just sat there. And Meredith Miller (Team Tibco) came and told me.”
Miller, a friend of Phillips’s, is the newly-crowned road national champion.
New phenom’ Stevens felt great about her time trial, and came into the day realizing the course and competition would be hard.
“It was a hard course. I liked the extra add-on,” she said.
A strong climber, Stevens said she thought the extra climbing played to her strengths. At Cascade, she came in fourth and felt she was able to get a better rhythm going on the expanded National Championship course.
Now near the end of the season, the question on most people’s minds is who Stevens will race for next year; the former college tennis player and surprise winner of the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic and Cascade has been guest riding this season – she rode with Phillips earlier in the season when she raced with Team Lip Smacker at Fitchburg.
When asked if she has made a decision as to who she will sign with, she said with a smile, “No, not yet. I’ve had a great time racing with Webcor (at Cascade). It was just an amazing experience.”
Defending champion Powers felt good about her ride and the expanded course, as well, and also expressed great respect for the competition. “I really liked the extra lollipop, those kind of power-out-of-the-saddle climbs,” she said. “And it was nice, you know, curvy, instead of just a boring straight. So this course had a little bit of both. I mean, the strongest time trialist for sure won.”
Powers said she put in the best ride she could, and was helped by having extra motivation.
“I went harder than I did last week, you know – extra motivation after getting third last week, too,” she said with a laugh. “I did my best.”
Powers, who has raced extensively with the U.S. National Team in Europe, expressed optimism for the future of American women’s time trialing.
“Today is extremely motivating,” she said. “It’s really cool to see, you know, after Kristin (Armstrong, Beijing gold medalist in the time trial) and Amber (Neben, the current world time trial champion) and Christine (Thorburn, retired Olympian), they challenged each other so much in time trial and really brought the level of American time trialing up. And so it’s cool to see that now I’m not the best, and hopefully these girls will continue to raise our own level, and continue the strong time trialing that America has. It’s cool to see that, even though I was beaten, game on. Let’s make ourselves better.”