Jonny Brown (Hagens Berman Axeon) shocked the men's peloton Sunday at the US Pro Road Race Championships in Tennessee, taking an upset win after dropping his breakaway companions on the penultimate lap of a course in his adopted hometown of Knoxville and soloing across the line to thunderous applause from the thrilled crowd.
Robin Carpenter (Rally Cycling) finished second, and Jacob Rather (Jelly Belly-Maxxis) rounded out the podium on a brutally hot and fast day that saw less than 20 riders actually make it to the finish line. The rest were given pro-rated times as the race envelope became too big, and straggling groups were pulled off the course.
Brown, who at 21 is the youngest-ever US Pro Road Race champion, joined Carpenter, Rathe and UnitedHealthcare's Gavin Mannion in a four-rider moved that sneaked away from the field about halfway through the 191.2km race. Brown then jumped away from his breakaway companions on the second-to-last lap and built up a gap of over a minute as the remaining trio was unable to get back on terms.
"I was in tears, honestly," Brown told Cyclingnews after the podium ceremony. "Seeing the finish right there and knowing I had it, I just couldn't believe it. Especially in my new city. It's just unbelievable."
Brown attacked the breakaway just after the descent off the day's major climb when he saw a lull in the action.
"Everyone was just kind of looking at each other a little bit because Gavin Mannion went really hard up the climb that time, and through the feedzone everyone was just kind of looking at each other, so I knew it was my chance to get ahead, because once I did then they would just be, like, 'Oh, who's going to chase?'"
Mannion said the trio behind believed they'd be able to pull Brown back after he showed signs of weakness throughout the day.
"We went pretty hard and then lulled after the descent coming into the feedzone, and he just hit us and everyone kind of looked at each other," Mannion said. "I think he was playing poker with us all day, because he didn't look so strong and he was missing turns, so we thought we'd just bring him back, and it never happened."
Brown told Cyclingnews he used his relative youth and inexperience to play a bit of possum with his breakaway companions.
"I was doing way fewer pulls than everyone else, and they would pull way longer than me, and I was using that to my advantage, being like, 'I'm the young guy in this. You guys are stronger and more experienced,' and they just let me keep doing it, which played into my strength to the end."
Rathe agreed with Mannion that the chasing trio never believed Brown would be able to hold his attack to the line.
"It was a long ways out, and hats off to him," Rathe said. "It blew me away. We were pulling, and Carpenter's no slouch – Mannion same story – so I figured just stick with the strong guys, but no. It was really impressive. I could not fathom how he was just going away. We were rolling, and he was 50 seconds, then 1:10. It was, like, 'What's going on here?'"
How it unfolded
The men's peloton tackled 15 laps of a 12.75km course for a total of 191.2km. The lumpy, twisty course included a major obstacle in the climb up Sherrod Road – a 1km ascent that started just over a kilometre from that start/finish, reaching pitches of 10 per cent on the twisty-but-narrow tarmac. At the finish, a short kicker into the final corner about 125 metres out led to a slightly downhill run to the line.
Temperatures nearing 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the typical high humidity of the American southeast added to the challenge of the day, while several rain showers late in the race cooled things down for the finale.
A breakaway of four formed near the start of the second lap, with Cole Davis (Hagens Berman Axeon), Eric Young (Rally Cycling), Austin Stephens (303 Project) and Kirk Albers (First Internet Bank) peeling off the front on the Sherrod Road climb.
Neilson Powless (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Zeke Mostiv (Hagens Berman Axeon) bridged on the descent off the climb to boost the numbers to six. Sean Bennett (Hagens Berman Axeon) and Ben Schmutte (First Internet Bank) bridged up to the leaders next, and the bunch decided the move was too dangerous to let go and reeled them back in.
A new break formed by the start of the third lap, with 12 riders jumping away before the start/finish and quickly solidifying a 45-second gap. The escapees then had 1:15 going up Sherrod Road for the third time.
In the group were UnitedHealthcare's Travis McCabe, Hagens Berman Axeon's Chris Blevins, Jonny Brown and Thomas Revard, Holowesko-Citadel's Morgan Schmitt, Rally Cycling's Kyle Murphy and Emerson Oronte, 303 Project's Andrew Clemence, Aevolo's Lance Haidet, Elevate-KHS's Kevin Girkins and Jelly Belly-Maxxis' Steve Fisher.
A second group of eight riders bridged to the leaders to form a new lead group of 20, which looked like an unmanageable situation, but the peloton appeared unconcerned as the gap started to go up. The leaders' advantage was 1:10 as they started lap 4.
Ben King (Dimension Data) jumped away from the field next, attempting to bridge to the leaders and sweeping up three riders who had fallen out of the front group along the way. The attempt was short lived, however, as the group lost impetus and were quickly swallowed up by the field.
The lead group of 17 started the lap 5 trip up Sherrod Road with a gap of about one minute. Among the revised lead formation were WorldTour riders Powless, Chad Haga (Team Sunweb) and Joey Rosskopf (BMC Racing). Other riders who bridged to the group were Jelly Belly's Jacob Rathe, UnitedHealthcare's Daniel Eaton, and First Internet Bank's Ryan Knapp and Nicholas Torraca.
EF Education First-Drapac didn't like the group up the road and sent Nathan Brown and Logan Owen to bring the race back under control. The WorldTour duo dragged the leaders' advantage down to just 30 seconds as they started lap 6.
The field brought the group back over the next lap, and a new group of four formed off the front that included Rathe, Rally's Robin Carpenter, UnitedHealthcare's Gavin Mannion and Hagens Berman Axeon's Brown. Holowesko-Citadel's Brendan Rhim jumped out of the field to try to bridge.
The lead quartet came through the start/finish with eight laps to go with a two-minute lead over the splitting peloton. On the ensuing lap, Powless jumped away from the field and quickly put a minute into the bunch as he attempted to chase down the leaders.
With seven laps to go, the leaders come through the line with 2:05 on Powless, 2:30 on Dimension Data's King, 3:25 to 303 Project's Cullen Easter and Rally's Kyle Murphy, while the field was 4:15 behind the leaders.
King connected with Powless during the next lap, giving the bridging move a better chance at success, but the gap was 2:50 when they came through with six laps to go. The field came through at 3:36, led by BMC's Bookwalter.
The leaders rebuilt their advantage on the next lap, with the gap back to Powless and King going to 3:40 and the field at 4:25. Six riders from the field caught King and Powless in the feedzone, with Bookwalter, McCabe, Revard, Kiel Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo), Brandon McNulty (Rally Cycling) and defending champion Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue Sport) forming a new chase group of eight.
The chase languished about 3:50 behind the leaders as they saw four to go, while the much-reduced field was almost five minutes back, led across the line by Haga. Over the following lap, McCabe dropped form the chase, which peeled only five seconds away from the leaders, crossing the line with three to go, 4:45 back. Riders in the field appeared to realise their race was over, as the gap ballooned to well over five minutes.
Powless lost contact on the climb up Sherrod Road, reducing the first chase group down to Bookwalter, Revard, Reijnen, McNulty, King and Warbasse, who were 3:25 behind the leaders with two laps remaining.
Brown took his leave from the breakaway on the penultimate lap, distancing his former three breakaway mates early in the lap and powering on alone. He opened an initial 20-second gap over the trio he left behind, while the second chase of six remained 3:15 back.
Brown took the bell with one lap to go with a one-minute gap over Carpenter, Rathe and Mannion, while the second chasing group of six riders splintered as the riders crossed the line with a gap of nearly four minutes.
From there, Brown just had to hold on, crossing the finish line for, in his own words, an "unbelievable" win, 45 seconds ahead of Carpenter to become the road race national champion.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jonathan Brown (USA) Hagens Berman Axeon||4:41:11|
|2||Robin Carpenter (USA) Rally Cycling||0:00:45|
|3||Jacob Rathe (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis||0:01:17|
|4||Gavin Mannion (USA) UnitedHealthcare||0:01:21|
|5||Benjamin King (USA) Team Dimension Data||0:02:41|
|6||Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo|
|7||Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team||0:02:42|
|8||Lawrence Warbasse (USA) Aqua Blue Sport||0:02:44|
|9||Thomas Revard (USA) Hagens Berman Axeon||0:02:48|
|10||Brandon Mcnulty (USA) Rally Cycling||0:03:24|
|11||Joseph Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing Team||0:07:53|
|12||Chad Haga (USA) Team SunWeb||0:07:59|
|13||Alex Howes (USA) EF Education First-Drapac||0:08:03|
|14||Kevin Girkins (USA) Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling|
|15||Alexey Vermeulen (USA) Interpro Stradalli Cycling||0:08:09|
|16||Emerson Oronte (USA) Rally Cycling||0:08:27|
|17||Alex Hoehn (USA) Aevolo Cycling Inc.||0:09:45|
|18||George Simpson (USA) Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling||0:09:57|
|19||Kyle Murphy (USA) Rally Cycling||0:09:58|
|20||Neilson Powless (USA) Team Lotto NL - Jumbo||0:09:59|
|21||Travis Mccabe (USA) UnitedHealthcare|
|22||Taylor Shelden (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis|
|23||Samuel Boardman (USA) Marc Pro Cycling Team|
|24||Jarret Oldham (USA) First Internet Bank Cycling|
|25||Eric Brunner (USA) 303 Project|
|26||Scott Mcgill (USA) Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek De|
|27||Lance Haidet (USA) Aevolo Cycling Inc.|
|28||Ryan Knapp (USA) First Internet Bank Cycling||0:10:02|
|29||Stephen Bassett (USA) Silber Pro Cycling|
|30||Noah Granigan (USA) CCB Foundation - Sicleri|
|31||Corey Davis (USA) Cyclus Sports|
|32||Justin Mauch (USA) Marc Pro Cycling Team|
|33||Nicholas Torraca (USA) Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling|
|34||Dennis Ramirez (USA) Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek De|
|35||Ben Schmutte (USA) First Internet Bank Cycling|
|36||Kent Ross (USA) Hedrick Racing|
|37||Griffin Easter (USA) 303 Project|
|38||Austin Gomes (USA) Project Echelon Racing|
|39||Gavin Murray (USA) Marc Pro Cycling Team|
|40||Kyle Stoffan Thornton (USA) Hedrick Racing|
|41||Brett Wachtendorf (USA) Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek De|
|42||Curtis White (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis|
|43||Gage Hecht (USA) Aevolo Cycling Inc.|
|44||Grant Ellwood (USA) 303 Project|
|45||Connor Sallee (USA) Cyclus Sports|
|46||Sean Gardner (USA) Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek De|
|47||Quinten Kirby (USA) Marc Pro Cycling Team||0:10:04|
|48||Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling|
|49||Timothy Savre (USA) Project Echelon Racing|
|50||John Mccann (USA) First Internet Bank Cycling|
|51||Tyler Stites (USA) Aevolo Cycling Inc.|
|52||Evan Bausbacher (USA) Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek De|
|53||Eric Hill (USA) Project Echelon Racing|
|54||Evan Hartig (USA) Project Echelon Racing||0:10:05|
|55||Andrew Giniat (USA) Cyclus Sports|
|56||Patrick Collins (USA) CCB Foundation - Sicleri|
|57||Cory Lockwood (USA) Project Echelon Racing|
|58||Spencer Downing (USA) Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek De|
|59||Matthew Zimmer (USA) Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek De|
|60||Franklin Deese (USA) Cyclus Sports|
|61||Richard Randall (USA) Cyclus Sports|
|62||Evan Bybee (USA) Holowesko-Citadel p/b Arapaho|
|63||Daniel Lausin (USA) Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek De|
|DNF||Nathan Brown (USA) EF Education First-Drapac|
|DNF||Logan Owen (USA) EF Education First-Drapac|
|DNF||Edward Anderson (USA) Hagens Berman Axeon|
|DNF||Sean Bennett (USA) Hagens Berman Axeon|
|DNF||Christopher Blevins (USA) Hagens Berman Axeon|
|DNF||Cole Davis (USA) Hagens Berman Axeon|
|DNF||Ian Garrison (USA) Hagens Berman Axeon|
|DNF||Ezekiel Mostov (USA) Hagens Berman Axeon|
|DNF||Miguel Bryon (USA) Holowesko-Citadel p/b Arapaho|
|DNF||Andrew Dahlheim (USA) Holowesko-Citadel p/b Arapaho|
|DNF||Taylor (T.J.) Eisenhart (USA) Holowesko-Citadel p/b Arapaho|
|DNF||John Murphy (USA) Holowesko-Citadel p/b Arapaho|
|DNF||Brendan Rhim (USA) Holowesko-Citadel p/b Arapaho|
|DNF||Morgan Schmitt (USA) Holowesko-Citadel p/b Arapaho|
|DNF||Charles Huff (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Colin Joyce (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Tyler Magner (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Danny Pate (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Eric Young (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Daniel Eaton (USA) UnitedHealthcare|
|DNF||Adrian Hegyvary (USA) UnitedHealthcare|
|DNF||Eric Marcotte (USA) UnitedHealthcare|
|DNF||Tanner Putt (USA) UnitedHealthcare|
|DNF||Dillon Caldwell (USA) 303 Project|
|DNF||Charles (Mac) Cassin (USA) 303 Project|
|DNF||Maxx Chance (USA) 303 Project|
|DNF||Andrew Clemence (USA) 303 Project|
|DNF||Cullen Easter (USA) 303 Project|
|DNF||Isaiah Newkirk (USA) 303 Project|
|DNF||Jake Silverberg (USA) 303 Project|
|DNF||Austin Stephens (USA) 303 Project|
|DNF||Taylor Warren (USA) 303 Project|
|DNF||Michael Hernandez (USA) Aevolo Cycling Inc.|
|DNF||Nicholas Mckey (USA) Aevolo Cycling Inc.|
|DNF||Imeh Nsek (USA) Aevolo Cycling Inc.|
|DNF||Jason Saltzman (USA) Aevolo Cycling Inc.|
|DNF||Denzel Stephenson (USA) Aevolo Cycling Inc.|
|DNF||Gabriel Mendez (USA) CCB Foundation - Sicleri|
|DNF||Spencer Petrov (USA) CCB Foundation - Sicleri|
|DNF||Conor Schunk (USA) CCB Foundation - Sicleri|
|DNF||Jake Sitler (USA) CCB Foundation - Sicleri|
|DNF||Cooper Willsey (USA) CCB Foundation - Sicleri|
|DNF||Winston David (USA) Cyclus Sports|
|DNF||Oliver Flautt (USA) Cyclus Sports|
|DNF||Michael Gearren Ii (USA) Cyclus Sports|
|DNF||Parker Kyzer (USA) Cyclus Sports|
|DNF||Benjamin Renkema (USA) Cyclus Sports|
|DNF||Samuel Bassetti (USA) Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Gavin Hoover (USA) Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Cory Williams (USA) Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Steve Fisher (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis|
|DNF||Keegan Swirbul (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis|
|DNF||Benjamin Wolfe (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis|
|DNF||Kirk Albers (USA) First Internet Bank Cycling|
|DNF||Robert Sroka (USA) First Internet Bank Cycling|
|DNF||John Becker (USA) First Internet Bank Cycling|
|DNF||Chaz Hogenauer (USA) Hedrick Racing|
|DNF||Lewis Whiley (USA) Hedrick Racing|
|DNF||Christopher Horner (USA) Team Illuminate|
|DNF||Tyler Williams (USA) Israel Cycling Academy|
|DNS||Richard Arnopol (USA) Project Echelon Racing|
|DNS||Ryan Oboyle (USA) Project Echelon Racing|