American Lawson Craddock demonstrated the strength of his country's next generation of professional racers, winning the 8-kilometre time trial on stage 2a of Le Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux, while his teammate Larry Warbasse of Traverse City, Michigan took third.
Craddock, 19, a multi-time national champion at the junior level is continuing to enjoy success in his first year in the espoir ranks. He is on loan from his UCI continental team Trek-Livestrong to race with the national team in Belgium.
"So far it's been an awesome step. It's been a great trip for us so far. I'm really happy with the win in the time trial. The winds picked up a bit-good for me, not so great for the other guys."
On a double-stage day, the team tried to go two for two on the 120km stage to Mont de l'Enclus. Coming into the finale, the team pulled the breakaway back just before the final climb, and then Craddock led his teammate Ryan Eastman, the best placed on GC, for the sprint.
"Lawson and I were solo off the front," said Eastman. "He led it out with 1k to go and put me in perfect position. I think I probably had 10 or 15 seconds on the group and he just screamed 'go' and I went all out to the finish. One guy came around me with 300 meters to go and then a couple of guys came around in the sprint and I held on for fourth."
The proximity of the team's base to the day's route helped in the end.
"Just last week I think we did this climb three times, and the week before I think another three times. I know that climb really well so its great living here in Izegem."
"They did a super job; I'd say it's one of the best moves I've seen from Under 23s," said Marcello Albansani, USA Cycling men's U23 team director. "Craddock took him on his wheel and brought him to the last kilometers. It was a super tactic. He couldn't pull out the win, but for me it doesn't matter because it was a huge move and they did a really, really good job. We had a fantastic day today overall."
US national team at Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux:
Ian Boswell (Bend, Oregon)
Nathan Brown (Covington, Tennessee)
Lawson Craddock (Houston, Texas)
Ryan Eastman (Petaluma, California)
Gavin Mannion (Dedham, Massachusetts)
Rob Squire (Sandy, Utah)
Larry Warbasse (Traverse City, Michigan)