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Over four days in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA Cycling hosted men’s and women’s national time trial, criterium, and road championships. The TT kicked things off Thursday, June 21, in Oak Ridge, followed by the criterium in downtown Knoxville on Friday evening. After a rest day, the marquee event, the road championship, was held in sweltering heat and humidity on Sunday, June 24.
The weekend started off with a pair of defending champions doing just that — Amber Neben (PX4 Sports) and Joey Rosskopf (BMC Racing Team) successfully defended their time-trial crowns. Neben retained her hold on the stars-and-stripes skinsuit by riding two laps of the 11km (7-mile) course along Melton Lake in Oak Ridge in 29:43 — 15 seconds faster than Taylor Wiles (Trek-Drops.) Finishing third in the 30-rider field was 21-year-old Emma White (Rally Cycling), giving her the U23 national title for women.
Like Neben in the women’s event, Rosskopf was the final rider out of the start house. Chad Haga (SunWeb) held the best time as 17 other riders in the 38-rider field crossed the line, but would finish second, 28 seconds behind Rosskopf’s winning time of 39:46 the three-lap course. Rosskopf’s BMC Racing teammate, Brent Bookwalter would finish in third, just six seconds behind Haga.
Under the setting sun and summer showers in downtown Knoxville, (Wolfpack-Hyperthreads) and Ty Magner (Rally Cycling) were crowned national criterium champions. Riding for a small team from Texas, the 29-year-old Ganzar surprised the star-studded field with a sprint win in the 75-minute contest, crossing the line just ahead of Kelly Catlin (Rally Cycling). Overcast skies and light showers gave way to blue skies as the pro men took the course for a 90-minute battle on the 1.1-mile, six-turn circuit. After a late burst of speed from teammate Brad Huff, Magner emerged from a three-man sprint for the national title. His teammate Eric Young finished second, followed by Sam Bassetti (Elevate-KHS) in third.
Sunday brought the signature event, the national road championship, contested in Knoxville for a second consecutive year, with a return to the course’s defining climb up Sherrod Road. The pro women races nine laps for a total of 114km (72 miles), and the pro men raced 15 laps for a total of 191km (120 miles).
In the women’s race, Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) out-sprinted three-time national champion Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) to take her first elite road title from a small group of contenders. Guarnier’s late attack was marked by Rivera’s teammate Ruth Winder, forcing a sprint from the select group. Emma White (Rally Cycling) rounded out the podium while earning the U23 national title, just as she did Thursday in the time trial championship, where she finished third and took the U23 TT title.
In the men’s race, 21-year-old Jonny Brown (Hagens Berman-Axeon) rode into a late-race breakaway of four riders with around 70km remaining before going it alone 20km from the line to become the youngest elite road champion in U.S. history. Of the other three from the breakaway, Robin Carpenter (Rally Cycling) finished second, 45 seconds off the winning time, and 32 seconds ahead of Jacob Rathe (Jelly Belly), who rounded out the podium. Gavin Mannion (UnitedHealthcare), who had initiated the decisive breakaway, finished fourth, four seconds behind Rathe. It was an emotional hometown victory for Brown, the younger brother of Nathan Brown (EF Education First-Drapac), who was born outside of Nashville. The Brown brothers grew up in Memphis, and both moved to Austin, Texas, however Jonny moved to Knoxville just one month prior to the national championships.