This week, the US Elite National Championships are hitting the city of Augusta, Georgia with cyclists of all ages battling for
green jackets the podium. Seeing as the U23 and young riders in general are the future of the sport, they need to get some spotlight time. With the USPRO Championships all ready taking place this year, a lot of eyes are all ready looking towards France but this weekend should provide spectacular racing (which I wish we could see!)
P.S. Its going to be HOT!! Tuesday, it was 100 F and no plans to let up
On the flip, I'll be previewing the U23 Men TT, Criterium and Road Race
*Startlists are incomplete so everyone who might be there might not be included!
I for one was excited when I heard that Nationals was moving to back to the East Coast this year after the 4 or so years it was out on the West Coast in So Cal and Bend, Or. respectively, mostly because being from the Midwest, there are some guys who just skipped Nationals the last few years because of it being so far away (USA Cycling could do a better job of finding a more centrally located venue but I digress).
Time Trial (30 kilometers)
The Time Trial, (profile is linked) which starts and finishes on the border of South Carolina and Georgia at Strom Thrumond Lake, is a rolling course, 945 feet of elevation gain, but nothing drastic by any means so the big TURBO engines should take the day. While I think there are a few major contenders, I'm putting two of them above the rest...Lawson Craddock and Adam Leibovitz
Craddock is a name that you might have heard of before...He won every event he entered at last year's nationals and was bronze medalist at last year's Junior World's TT...he had an impressive juniors career and moved straight to Trek-Livestrong where he has all ready shown some of his potential with a TT win all ready this year. Leibovitz, unless you follow US cycling closely, probably isn't a name that you've heard of. Currently the US track pursuit champion along with holding multiple collegiate titles currently for Marian University, he was a former junior TT national champion ('08) who was selected for World's TT that year in South Africa...if you look at the results, it shows him 3'33" down off the winner but their is a story behind that...on the start ramp, a shifting cable broke and lost 3 minutes with the repair. He most likely would have been top 5 without the mishap, right near Taylor Phinney. Craddock has shown great form recently at the Tulsa Tough Omnium grabbing 4th overall and Leibovitz just set a 40k PR a few weeks with an average speed of 49.4 kph
With those two as hot favorites, there are a few others than could pull of an upset with an impressive ride or get onto the podium including... Andrew Barker (Chipotle) Chase Pinkham (Bissell) "Downtown" Nate Brown, Carter Jones and Charlie Avis (Trek-Livestrong) Evan Huffman (Cal Giant) and Larry Warbasse (BMC/USA National) but since this is U23, the form some of these guys are on can widely differ so there could be surprises!
Criterium (60 kilometers)
As Adam Myerson lamented on Twitter earlier today...
You know, for $60, you'd think the USAC nationals crit course might at least have 6 turns instead of just 4.
Its pretty bogus that a National Championship is being run on a non-technical 4 corner course...Here is the profile...3 feet of elevation gain? I'm not saying that there will be a 100% chance of it but there is a good chance there won't be a "deserving" winner...one who doesn't have to do anything but wait for the final sprint. Luckily, this is the U23's we are talking about and they will attack each other until their eyes bleed...
This is probably the most wide open race of the three with a group of high quality sprinters and a lot of guys willing to attack it from the gun. Craddock and Leibovitz certainly won't shy away from this event...Craddock is the reigning junior national criterium champion (with a dominating solo performance) and Leibovitz is the current collegiate criterium champion (won out of a breakaway) but they are not the only favorites...
Rob Bush (Chipotle) Luke Keough (Mountain Khakis) Shane Kline (Bissell) Logan Loader (Ride Clean) Weston Luzadder (Jamis Sutter Home) Jakob Rathe (Chipotle) Joseph Schmalz (Elbowz) Danny Summerhill (Chipotle) Justin Williams (FCA/FCF) and Eric Young (Bissell) + more could take the day
Bush won a stage at Tour de Beauce last week...Keough has been making a name for himself all year in the crit scene with multiple top 5 finishes against United Healthcare and others...Kline is part of the Bissell train and won Kelly Cup last month...Loader has been showing good form at Tulsa and other places...Luzadder is a former junior crit national champ and should be peaking for Natz...Rathe has been on some amazing form this year...Schmalz was absolutely killing it at Tulsa Tough and should be a nice surprise...Summerhill was on good form at Philly and can never be counted out of a race like this...Williams hasn't been the same rider like he was on Rock Racing BUT he is a former U23 Crit Champion...Young is one of the hot new riders in the peloton, he signed with Bissell in April after winning his 3rd Little 500 and has been going toe to toe with big names all spring.
Road Race (168 kilometers)
The gem of the weekend is the road course...It is going to be a 103 miles of full-on racing. With there being almost 10,000 feet of climbing, it is going to be a course where the climbers and rouleurs will most likely shine unless there is a sprinter that can hang on for dear life. The U23's are doing 7 laps (same as the Elite Men) and the course has no flat whatsoever, making recovery very hard.
My hot favorite for the race is Larry Warbasse of BMC U23...He has been tearing it up over in Europe this spring and while he isn't the best climber in the race, he is a bit of an all-arounder (5th at LBL U23) so he can make his moves stick and sprint for the win. I will be surprised if he isn't in the top 5 for the race.
Joe Dombrowski of Trek-Livestrong is probably the best climber in the rest...actually the best story. This kid was a Cat 3 racer last year! And this year, he scored 6th overall at Tour of the Gila and 3rd overall at the prestigious Ronde de l'Isard. It will be a race of attrition and he definitely has the climbing skills to leap away from the pack
Rob Squire of Chipotle is a former mountain biker turned road racer who could go blow for blow with Dombrowski on the uphills. He was 4th overall at the Ronde de l'Isard, climbing just below Dombrowski and top 15 at Paris-Roubaix U23...a wonderful combination. He is on good form with a great performance at Tour de Beauce last week (11th overall) so he is really to contend
Other favorites: Nathan Brown (Trek-Livestrong, 7th overall at Coupe des Nations...25th at USPRO RR)
Oscar Clark (RealCyclist.com, 13th at USPRO RR)
Ian Boswell (Trek-Livestrong, won the Nevada City Classic...3rd overall at last year's Tour of Utah)
Gavin Mannion (Trek-Livestrong, huge spring in Europe with multiple top 10's)
Anders Newbury (Chipotle, strong rouleur...big result in Gabon in January)
Chase Pinkham (Bissell, 10th at USPRO RR)
Also: Jakob Rathe and Danny Summerhill
This race is going to be Trek-Livestrong vs. Chipotle...they are the two leading U23 teams in the nation and will be wanting the jersey. They both have a lot of riders in the race so they will be trying to make it a two horse race but will definitely have trouble with guys on other teams, specifically Bissell
Hopefully there will at least be twitter coverage of the races, since the US is a hater of cycling of TV. U23 races are all in consecutive days from Thursday to Saturday so Craddock probably won't have a chance to sweep them this year ;)