Women’s TT, Men’s U23 road race highlight U.S. national championships

Women’s TT, Men’s U23 road race highlight U.S. national championships

Reigning TT champ Jessica Phillips will be back to defend her jersey
Reigning TT champ Jessica Phillips will be back to defend her jersey

Twenty-four stars-and-stripes jerseys and seven places on the 2010 world championship teams are on the line this week as the USA Cycling Juniors, u23 & Elite Road National Championships begin Tuesday in Bend, Oregon.

Bend – home of the 2009-10 national cyclocross championships – hosts the road nationals for the second consecutive year. And for the second year in a row, an absolutely loaded field will contest the men’s and women’s elite and U23 criterium, road race and time trial events.

Elite Women Time Trial

The elite women’s time trial is setting up to be one of the marquee races of the weekend and a battle between four classy riders. Former world champion Amber Neben (Webcor Builders) is back from a leg injury that sidelined her for a month this spring; while she is on the comeback from the missed time, Neben is the odds-on favorite to de-throne defending champ Jessica Phillips (Colavita-Baci).

An on-form Evelyn Stevens (HTC-Columbia) was runner-up a year ago and is a top threat. National Racing Calendar leader Alison Powers (Vera Bradley Foundation) was the 2008 national champion and has designed much of her season around regaining the title on Thursday.

The women will roll on the Skyliners Time Trial course, climbing more than 800 vertical feet over 35 kilometers. The majority of the climbing comes in the first half of the course, as riders ascend the gradual Skyliners Road into the Deschutes National Forest. The turnaround at 12k is the high point of the route — from there to the finish, riders plummet back down to town before settling into the final 12k-loop near Skyliners Park.

The course suits a rider like Stevens, who can climb with the world’s best and descend with aplomb, or Powers, whose powerful cadence can turn a big gear on the descent, particularly if the winds kick up. If the rain that is forecast shows, things will get very interesting — the route is not particularly technical, but riders will need to be comfortable riding flat out on the descent on wet roads.

In the other women’s events, the Peanut Butter & Co.-Twenty12 tandem of Shelley Evans and Mara Abbott are the prohibitive favorites for the road race. Former criterium champs Brooke Miller (TIBCO-To The Top) and Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Colavita-Baci) will line up their powerful trains to battle Evans for the crit crown on the four-corner, rectangular course.

Women’s Elite/U23 Events

  • Time Trial (35km) Thursday June 24 directly after U23 Men
  • Criterium (50km) Friday June 25 6:00 p.m.
  • Road Race (113km) Sunday June 26 8:15 a.m.

U23 Men Road Race

The women’s TT will split the nationals bill with the men’s U23 road race. Defending double champ Alex Howes (Holowesko Partners) is back in Bend for a run at his final espoirs titles. He’ll turn pro with Garmin-Transitions next season and has been relatively quiet so far in 2010. Holowesko has dominated nationals the last two years, bringing deep squads sharpened by time in Europe with the national and trade teams. This year is no different, as Tour de Beauce KOM Danny Summerhill and “the Slovak” Peter Salon will both be at the start along with a roster of at least six more riders.

Talansky, here at Joe Martin, has had a hreakout season

This year, however, the argyle will face a strong contingent of freelancers, including 2010 standout Andrew Talanasky (California Giant-Specialized) and a deep squad from Trek-LIVESTRONG that includes Ben King and Julian Kyer. The U23 events provide a glimpse into the future of American cycling and by the looks of this year’s startlist, that future is bright.

Nevada City Classic winner Ian Boswell and teammate Cody O’Reilly (Bissell) and Redlands Classic fifth-place Carter Jones (Jelly Belly) are also each capable of being in position to pose for the cameras and pull on the red, white and blue at day’s end.

The Awbrey Butte circuit is 27 kilometers long and features more than 1,000 vertical feet of climbing per lap. The U23 men will battle for 160 kilometers and the challenging parcours should result, as it did in 2009, in an elite group emerging near the end of the race.

King finished fifth after helping Taylor Phinney win his second consecutive Paris-Roubaix Espoirs in May; earlier that month, he was the top American in the elite road race at the Pan-American Games. Talansky spent a month with the national team on the continent after the Joe Martin Stage Race and came away with stage wins at the Volta Ciclista Provincia and the Tour des Pay de Savoie. Both riders enter the race as favorites to upset Howes and Holowesko, though the wide-open racing most often seen in the u23 contest usually leads to nail biting racing and surprise results.

Taylor Phinney won’t be in Bend, as he prepares to ride as a stagaire for RadioShack later this summer. In fact, the top five in the time trial from a year ago is missing, including defending back-to-back champ Peter Stetina, who moved onto the ProTour with Garmin. Kyer is the highest finisher from 2009 in the race and should challenge again on Thursday. Talansky won the opening TT at Joe Martin in May and is going well against the clock; he enters the week as a favorite.

In the criterium, the four-corner course suits fast finishers like O’Reilly and Iggy Silva (Trek), but if 2009 repeats itself, they’ll need to tap into a late move to make it to the line with a chance to finish. Holowesko and Trek are strong enough that they should control the action for much of the race and the winner will likely come from one of their camps.

Men’s u23 Events

  • Time Trial (35km) Thursday June 24 directly after Elite Men
  • Criterium (60km) Friday June 25 4:30 p.m.
  • Road Race (160km) Saturday June 26 12:00 p.m.

Elite Men Road Race

Nationals closes Sunday with the road race for elite men – 160 kilometers on the same course as the U23 men. A number of top regional amateur squads will be in Bend, including Cal Giant, Hagens Berman and Yahoo!.

James Mattis (Cal Giant), Ryan Parnes (Yahoo!) and Zachary Davies (Groove Subaru) have all shown top form in the build-up to nationals and should factor in the finale. Defending champ Michael Olheiser (Tristar) is back for a title defense as well.

Matt Busche and Corey Collier both finished in the top 10 in the road race last year and scored pro rides, with RadioShack and Bahati Foundation, respectively. With pro contracts on the line for 2011, the last race of the week should be one of the more animated.

Defending TT champ Olheiser leads the contenders in the time trial, with last year’s third place Greg Krause also on the startlist. Cal Giant’s Jesse Moore turned in an impressive TT at Mt. Hood earlier this month. The criterium is, simply put, wide open.

Elite Men Events

  • Time Trial (35km) Thursday June 24 directly after Men 17-18
  • Criterium (80km) Friday June 25 7:30 p.m.
  • Road Race (160km) Sunday June 26 12:00 p.m.

Complete National Championship Schedule

(Courtesy USA Cycling)

Tuesday 22 June 7am- 3pm
8:00am Women 10-12 Road Race 20k 3
9:00am Men 10-12 Road Race 20k 3
10:00am Women 13-14 Road Race 30k 5
11:30am Men 13-14 Road Race 40k 7
1:00pm Women 15-16 Road Race 55k 10
3:00 PM Paracycling M/W BVI1-2 Road Race 55k 10
3:02 PM Paracycling M/W C4-5 Road Race 55k 10
3:05 PM Paracycling M/W C1-3 Road Race 45K 8
3:10 PM Paracycling M/W H1-4 M/W T1-2 Road Race 45k 8
6:30pm Awards, Old Mill District All
7pm-9pm All Packet pickup and registration
Wednesday 23 June 2pm-8pm Criterium Onsite packet pickup $20
3:30 PM Paracycling Bicycles Min 10; Max 100 15k
4:30 PM Women 10-12 Criterium 15k
5:30 PM Men 10-12 Criterium 20k
6:30 PM Women 13-14 Criterium 20k
7:30 PM Men 13-14 Criterium 20k
8:30 PM Women 15-16 Criterium 20k
9:30 PM Awards, Northwest Crossing All
5pm-9pm All Packet pickup and registration
TT schedule revised 2 Jun 10
Thursday 24 June 7am-4pm All Onsite packet pickup $20
8:00 AM Women 10-12 Time Trial 12k
to follow Men 10-12 Time Trial 12k
Women 13-14 Time Trial 12k
Men 13-14 Time Trial 12k
Paracycling: H 1-2, T1-2 Time Trial 12k
Paracycling: Women C2-3, CP 3-4 Time Trial 24k
Paracycling: Women C4-5, Men C2-5 Time Trial 24k
Men CP3-4, H3-4, BVI M/W Time Trial 24k
Women 15-16 Time Trial 24k
Men 15-16 Time Trial 24k
Women 17-18 Time Trial 24k
Men 17-18 Time Trial 24k
Elite Men Time Trial 35k
U23 Men Time Trial 35k
Elite/U23 Women Time Trial 35k
6:30 PM Awards, Old Mill District All
7pm-9pm All Packet pickup and registration
Friday 25 June 12 pm- 7pm All Onsite packet pickup $20
10:00 AM Caravan drivers meeting Old Mill District at Registration Room
1:00 PM Men 15-16 (cat. 1-3) Criterium 25k
2:00 PM Women 17-18 Criterium 20k
3:00 PM Men 17-18 (cat. 1-3) Criterium 50k
4:30 PM Men U23 (cat. 1-2) Criterium 60k
6:00 PM Women Elite/U23 Criterium 50k
7:30 PM Men Elite Criterium 80k
9:30 PM Awards, Downtown Bend All
7pm-9pm All Packet pickup and registration
Saturday 26 June 7am- 12pm All Onsite packet pickup $20
8:15 AM Men 15-16 (cat. 1-3) Road Race 60k 2
8:30 AM Women 17-18 Road Race 60k 2
12:00pm Men U23 (cat.1-2) Road Race 160k 6
6:30 PM Awards, Old Mill District All
7pm-9pm All Packet pickup and registration
Sunday 27 June 7am-12pm All Onsite packet pickup $20
8:00am Junior Men 17-18 (cat. 1-3) Road Race 113k 4
8:15am Elite/U23 Women (cat. 1-2) Road Race 113k 4
12pm Elite Men (cat.1) Road Race 160k 6
6:30pm Awards, Old Mill District All