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Editor’s note: The January 2013 issue of Velo magazine, which is on newsstands now, is our 25th annual awards issue. Our 2012 Cyclist of the Year was announced on November 29; we’ll be rolling out various other award winners throughout the month of December.
Domestic Ride of the Year: Timmy Duggan wins national championship with solo attack
Yes, Timmy Duggan’s ride to win the USA Professional National Championship in Greenville, South Carolina, was one for the books — brash, with a certain panache.
“It’s one of the most satisfying days of my career,” Duggan said after the race. “It’s incredible… I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and it’s exactly how it happened.”
Surely, not even Boulder-based Duggan, riding for Liquigas-Cannondale, could have imagined it this way. He rode away from an elite group, including Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) and soloed to his first national title with plenty of time for a post-up.
The peloton split on the first lap of the four-lap, 112-mile race, with 28 riders making the front group. The final selection from that split went on to make the race. The massive breakaway dropped riders on the second and third ascents of Paris Mountain. With a minute advantage over the peloton, van Garderen attacked low on the final climb to tear the race apart. Danielson came over the top of the BMC rider just ahead of the summit, while the defending champ Matthew Busche (RadioShack-Nissan) came across a half-mile into the descent to make it a three-man lead group.
Duggan was able to come across the gap before the final of three circuits downtown. Danielson attacked, but wasn’t able to break free. The other riders forced the pace at the front, and no one was able to ride clear. It was during the ensuing lull that Duggan took flight, making a move on the cusp of the final closing circuits. He opened up 25 seconds with two 3.8-mile laps to go.
Into the last lap, Duggan carried half a minute. He turned himself inside out, in the drops, smashing the pedals. Inside of two miles to the line, his lead was whittled to 16 seconds. “Once [Duggan] got a pretty [good] gap, we got together and started working,” van Garderen said. “But by that time, it was too late.”
Inside the final mile, the elite chasers were just 15 seconds behind the Liquigas man, but Duggan wasn’t to be denied; he rode smoothly up the finish straight in Greenville and pumped both arms over his head. Just like that, a national champ.
“When the moment’s right, you go all out,” Duggan said. “You can’t look back. It’s kind of simple… You don’t have room for error or mistakes.”
Women’s Crit Racer of the Year: Erica Allar
Erica Allar opened her 2012 season with a win at the first stop on the USA Crits series — the Delray Beach Twilight Criterium — and there was no looking back. She continued to pick up criterium wins from coast to coast and closed out her season at the Tour of Vail criterium with a sprint victory and the USA Crits overall championship.
Allar’s RideClean/Patentit.com squad was small, but what it lacked in numbers it made up for in podium appearances. Allar even took the inaugural National Criterium Calendar overall, topping riders with much more experience and deeper team support.
Without a deep lead-out train, Allar’s victories can be chalked up to a great racing sense, a little luck, and most of all, one of the snappiest sprints in the peloton.