After winning the Tour of California women's time trial earlier this month, UnitedHealthcare's Alison Powers is on track to claim the stars and stripes jersey at the USA Cycling professional championships time trial on Saturday, May 24 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Powers is considered a specialist against the clock with wins at the Mount Hood, Cascade Cycling Classic and Tour de Toona prologues, the Pan American time trial championships and the Joe Martin Stage Race time trial. She last won the elite national time trial championships in 2008 in Orange Country, California, but since then has had three third-place finishes. This year, she believes her form is where it needs to be to win the title again.
"It's been a long time, and I hope to win again," Powers said. "California's time trial was a big confidence booster for me."
Powers won the Tour of California's 20.1km time trial in 27:20 minutes, 21 seconds faster than Brianna Walle (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) and an additional four seconds in front of to Tayler Wiles (Specialized-lululemon). Her top form couldn't have come at a better time.
She believes her latest performance sets her up well for the national time trial championships because it allowed her to test her legs one last time against some of the other top tier time trialists in the country.
"We don't get to see the girls who race in Europe very much and so it was nice to have had Tayler, Evelyn Stevens and Carmen Small in California to find out how I could stack up against them."
Small, the defending champion, won last year's race by just over a second ahead of Kristin McGrath (Twenty16 Pro Cycling) and 12 seconds to Powers. Other riders to watch for this year are Stevens, a former champion, along with Alison Tetrick and Amber Gaffney (Twenty16 Pro Cycling), Robin Farina (Spy Giant Ride p/b MRI) and her own teammate Mara Abbott, among others.
The women will complete two laps of a challenging 15.4km circuit, totaling roughly 30.9km, the same course as last year. They'll leave the starting ramp and travel along Volkswagen Dr, enter a roundabout and veer right onto Discovery Rd. They will then take a hard righthand turn onto Hickory Valley Rd, which will sweep to the left and then to the right toward the first turnaround point. They will then make their way back through the start-finish line on Volkswagen Rd and continue on to the second turnaround point before returning to the finish line.
"Chattanooga is a different course compared to the one in California, it is a longer course and will require a different type of strategy. I do well on courses with rollers, smaller climbs, but with downhills and corners," Powers said.
The course is not flat and it's roughly 10km longer than the one in California but Powers has proven to thrive on roads that are undulating, technically challenging and that require stamina. She hopes to use these skills to win a second national time trial title.