Tour of Utah: Brown relishing first race in US champion's jersey

Hagens Berman Axeon's recently crowned road race champion in Utah to work for the team

Jonny Brown has had to wait through the entire month of July for the opportunity to wear the US Pro Championship jersey he won last June in Knoxville, Tennessee, but he's at the Tour of Utah this week and relishing his first opportunity to show off his hard-won prize.

Brown took the national championship title with an audacious solo move from a small breakaway in what turned out to be a battle of attrition that saw less than 20 riders cross the finish line. It was an emotional win for the 21-year-old who had adopted Knoxville as his hometown, and he was greeted at the line by his brother Nathan, who rides for EF Education First-Drapac. And that was just the beginning.

"After the race for the next week it was kind of overwhelming for me, to be honest," Brown told Cyclingnews at the Utah team presentation Saturday evening.

"My phone was dying over and over throughout the day because there was just one message after another and social media notifications and everything," he said. "It makes so there are no words for it almost because it's like people are just happy for me to get the win. The response was overwhelming. It's a good overwhelm, and it makes you really happy and proud to wear the jersey for the next year."

With that pride also comes the responsibility and pressure to honour the jersey.

"Yeah, there's a little pressure because now you have to live up to the jersey, but I think I just have to live it up for the next year and take every race, race by race," he said.

Brown is in Utah with a Hagens Berman Axeon roster that also includes Edward Anderseon, Sean Bennett, Jasper Philipsen, Thomas Revard, Michael Rice and Maikel Zijlaard. Brown told Cyclingnews he'll be working for the team's general classification hopefuls; the Axel Merckx-run development team was second overall with Adrian Costa in 2016. But Brown said he'll also seize his own opportunities if they arise.

"We'll see what the team plan is first and everything, coming here for GC roles for a couple of the guys, and we have a good sprinter for the sprint days," he said. "So I'll seize the opportunities when they come for myself, but the team always come first at a race like this."

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