To say Eric Marcotte (Cylance pro Cycling) knows how to target a race would be an understatement. The 2014 US pro road race champion and 2015 criterium champion has repeatedly proved that when he has time to prepare and focus on a single day, he's a hard man to beat.
That idea should leave the rest of the pro peloton in Knoxville nervous when they approach the start line for today's USA Cycling Professional Championships road race; Marcotte hasn't raced since the Redlands Bicycle Classic in early May, choosing instead to quietly train at home in Arizona for a chance to repeat his 2014 win. Despite a similar laser-like focus on the race, Marcotte says this year's championship is nothing like 2014.
“That year I just tried to play the teammate role and get up the road, taking pressure off our best bet that year,” Marcotte said of the 2014 race, when he and then-teammate Travis McCabe made the final selection and finished first and second for SmartStop. “I’d contribute when I could but have to survive the climb; I was on a good day so it obviously played out well. And once the big climb was over, and we had three teammates in the circuits around town, it went well for us.”
The course in Knoxville forgoes the finishing circuits in town, instead sending riders 14 times over a 12.6km course that includes a 1km climb that comes about 9km from the finish. A slightly uphill kicker before the line will provide another challenge.
Marcotte has proved in the past he can make it over short, punchy climbs and still have something left for the finish, the only question now is where his form is after nearly eight weeks without a race. USA Cycling's decision to move the race back in line with other national championships left a gap in the schedule for many riders
“I'm not sure how it will be for others, but I've had nearly eight weeks no racing, so that was a big change,” he said. “I'm am very good at focus, discipline and motivation, though another one-day race on the schedule would be ideal. That being said, I hope to have prepared well. I am happy with what I've done coming into the event.”
Marcotte has raced sparingly so far this year after moving to Cylance from Jamis in the offseason, finishing second in a stage of the Joe Martin Stage Race and coming in third in the Mclellan Road Race of the Alabama Classic. Marcotte also raced in the Tour of the Gila earlier this year, with eighth in the Silver City Criterium as his best result there.
Marcotte will have three teammates to support him on Sunday, including Kyle Murphy, who placed sixth in the US pro time trial on Saturday, Bryan Lewis and Hunter Grove.
Both men's and women's races will be streamed live on Cyclingnews.