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UCI Road World Championships: Team USA misses the mark in U23 men’s race

Colby Simmons is the team's top finisher as Luke Lamperti and Matthew Riccitello struggle.

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WOLLONGONG, Australia (VN) — Team USA came into the U23 men’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships with big ambitions, but the team rode away with nothing after a disappointing day all-around.

Luke Lamperti and Matthew Riccitello were the team’s two leaders as the squad looked to cover multiple bases depending on how the race turned out.

Lamperti and Riccitello were well placed for much of the race, along with teammate Colby Simmons. However, things began to go wrong with about three laps to go as both Lamperti and Riccitello slipped off the back of the bunch when the major attacks started coming.

“I’m a little bit disappointed for sure, it wasn’t the day that I hoped for,” Lamperti told VeloNews. “I didn’t feel myself from the start, I felt a bit empty and it’s hard to come in and being a bit of a leader in the team and knowing that I had a chance at a podium or going for the win today, but it just didn’t go my way for sure today, I didn’t feel good.”

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After being distanced with a third of the race still remaining, Lamperti finished 8:43 behind the day’s winner Yevgeniy Federov.

Friday’s race should have been a good day for Lamperti with the grim, wet conditions to his liking. He wasn’t able to pinpoint what precisely was wrong with him, but he hopes to be able to figure it out once he sits down and analyzes the whole event.

“The travel was good, and I’ve been here for a week now, or so. All of that was good, I just didn’t feel great today. It’s hard to know exactly why,” he said. “I don’t know if I was having a bit of a bad day or I was just fighting off some sickness but I just felt pretty empty from the start. It’s maybe one of those things where I look back at the run-in and try to learn something from it because there’s always something and, hopefully, I can track that down. Every now and then you have a bad day, and it could have been that as well.”

The plan was to put the Lamperti and Riccitello in a strong position early on and allow them to try and make a move in the latter stages of the race. Riccitello was dropped around the same time as Lamperti with just over three laps remaining, and he finished within the final group to cross the line nearly 10 minutes down on the winner.

“Personally, I was hoping to be racing in the front. I just didn’t have the legs today,” Riccitello told VeloNews. “The plan was to be patient and wait until three or four laps to go and then try something on the climb there and I did that. I felt good the whole race and I felt good then, but the other guys felt a bit better. Disappointed is not the right word. Obviously, it would have been nice to be up there with those guys in the front but today I just didn’t have the legs.”

Taking the positives

In the end, Simmons was the top finisher from the U.S. team, taking 36th and crossing the line just over three minutes down. Simmons was a late inclusion into the team after injuries and other commitments forced USA Cycling to make some changes.

He came into the race in decent form after a top-10 finish at the recent Flanders Tomorrow Tour, but he too was missing the legs he needed to follow the moves when the race broke up.

“It was just brutal, just trying to survive every time up the climb and the weather made it that much harder,” Simmons told VeloNews. “I just wanted to see how everybody felt, it was hard to tell with a punchy climb like that so I just wanted to see where everyone would be and then we kind of just ended up surviving. It was hard.

“I just wasn’t good enough. You just want to be there, and I just wasn’t there.”

Most of the team will now end their season following Friday’s race with Lamperti one of the few to still have another race on his program with the Tour of Taiwan.

The downtime will give the riders an opportunity to assess what went wrong but, perhaps, try to take some positives out of it as well.

“We just have to try not to dwell on the negatives too much and try to take learn as much as I can. It’s the last race of the season for me, so I’m just really trying to take away as much as I can get ready for the next season and look forward to next year,” Riccitello said.

“Just getting to wear the stars and stripes and getting to represent your country is something that I’m honored to be able to do and the world championships is always a really cool experience. I think it’s a good step forward for USA Cycling. I think we’re trying to get the national team for the U23 and the juniors back up and running after COVID and just being able to come to races like this is really cool.”