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U.S. Cycling This Week: Phinney talks title defense while historic events round out calendar

The headline event in the States this weekend is the USA Cycling Professional National Championships in Greenville, South Carolina. Not to be lost in the shadows, however, are the oldest race on the National Racing Calendar, the Tour of Somerville, the 40th Iron Horse Bicycle Classic and the final stop on the Nature Valley Pro Ride.

Amgen Tour of California, Stage 6 Time Trial
Phinney in the Tour of California time trial last week. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

The headline event in the States this weekend is the USA Cycling Professional National Championships in Greenville, South Carolina. Not to be lost in the shadows, however, are the oldest race on the National Racing Calendar, the Tour of Somerville, the 40th Iron Horse Bicycle Classic and the final stop on the Nature Valley Pro Ride.

Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) and Ben King (RadioShack) are the defending national time trial and road champions, respectively. Last September the Trek-Livestrong teammates stormed Greenville, surprising in both events to become the youngest U.S. national professional champs ever.

Phinney will open the weekend Saturday with his title defense on the hilly course around the Clemson University ICAR facility. A month before winning the world U23 title last year, Phinney sat on his bike 100 meters beyond the finish watching Levi Leipheimer stop the clock less than a second slower. This year it will be the 20-year-old from Boulder, Colorado, who takes to the road last and most likely it will be Garmin-Cervélo’s David Zabriskie watching him.

Zabriskie won the Solvang time trial at the Amgen Tour last week, setting a new course record, while Phinney finished 1:37 back. That effort came five days into a tough stage race, however, and the BMC rider was confident at the end of the week that he would turn the tables Saturday.

“I’ve proven in the past to be a good one-hit wonder when it comes to one-day time trials and I think my fitness is there,” said Phinney. “The result [in Solvang] isn’t really confidence boosting, but at the same time it’s in the middle of a stage race… I know that when it comes down to one day, I can put out the power I need to put out.”

Phinney was happy to make it through the Amgen Tour. He nearly missed time cut on the queen stage to Mount Baldy, but in the end came away with four top-10 sprint results and a block of quality training. (See Phinney’s final day video diary at the bottom of this page)

“It’s been a long tour; it’s been a hard tour. (Mount Baldy) was brutal and it was about as much as my body could handle to be in the last group on the road,” said Phinney. “This should set me up nicely for next weekend.”

Related: Startlist

If they’re to square off for the top podium spot, Phinney and Zabriskie will have to top the toughest roster in the TT in years. Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing), Scott Zwizanski (UnitedHealthcare), Tom Zirbel (Jamis-Sutter Home), Danny Pate and Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) and Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly-Kenda) will each be gunning for the right to wear the stars-and-stripes skinsuit for the next 12 months.

Two days later King will roll off the front row in downtown Greenville for his title defense. VeloNews.com will have a full preview of the road race later this week.

USA Cycling Professional National Championships
Greenville, South Carolina

Time Trial
Saturday May 28 11:30 a.m.
20.7 miles

Road Race
Monday May 30 11:00 a.m.
115 miles

Tour of Somerville
Somerville, New Jersey

The 68th Tour of Somerville keeps the National Racing Calendar moving this weekend. The move to Memorial Day weekend for nationals will overshadow the country’s oldest continuous race, but look for a lot of the top foreign U.S. based pros to dice it up in New Jersey. Aldo Ino Ilesic (Team Type 1), Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis-Sutter Home) and grand tour stage winner Robert Förster (UnitedHealthcare) will all be there.

Hills of Somerset County Road Race
Saturday May 28 9:00 a.m.
77 miles (men)

Bound Brook Cycling Classic
Sunday May 29
40 miles (men)

Kugler Open / Kugler-Anderson Memorial
Monday May 30
20 miles (women) / 50 miles (men)

Quad Cities Memorial Weekend Omnium
Quad Cities, Iowa

*Nature Valley Pro Ride

The Nature Valley Pro Ride finishes up this weekend in eastern Iowa’s Quad Cities. The men’s and women’s winners on the steep bricks of Snake Alley will take the inside line on an invite to join the composite squad for June’s Nature Valley Grand Prix.

Snake Alley Criterium
Saturday May 28

Melon City Criterium
Sunday May 29

Modern Woodman Bank Quad City Criterium
Monday May 30

Iron Horse Bicycle Classic
Durango, Colorado

Race organizers are pulling out the stops for the 40th edition of the IHBC. Former road champions Alexi Grewal and VeloNews’ own Lennard Zinn will be on hand for the three-day weekend that includes the brutal road race to Silverton and an omnium.

Durango Coca Cola Road Race
Saturday May 28 7:20 a.m. (women) / 7:26 a.m. (men)
47 miles

Morehart Murphy Criterium
Sunday May 29 3:20 p.m. (women) / 4:15 p.m. (men)
45 min. (women) / 60 min. (men)

BP East Animas Time Trial
Monday May 30 Time TBD
13.7 mi. (men and women)

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