Carmen Small surprised many, including herself, with her close win at the inaugural US Women's Professional Time Trial Championships. Small (Specialized-lululemon) outpaced Kristen McGrath (Exergy TWENTY16) by one second in the final wave of riders to win the championship and right to wear the stars-and-stripes skinsuit. Podium performances from Small and McGrath over pre-race favorites Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon) and Alison Powers (NOW - Novartis for MS) is sure to send a clear signal to the cycling world that the depth of American talent is rapidly growing.
Small, who came from Nordic skiing and worked as a math teacher before taking up cycling, was at a loss for words after her win. "I'm completely shocked to be honest," said Small who suffered a setback after a crash earlier in May at the Pan Am Games. "I don't win time trials."
At the Pan Am Games time trial a banner along the course came loose and caused her to crash. After the incident Small took some time off the bike to recover before heading to Canada where she won the Chrono Gatineau on May 20th. Small credits her win in Gatineau for providing the confidence needed to square of successfully against the likes of Stevens and Powers.
The wide roads surrounding Chattanooga's state of the art Volkswagen manufacturing plant provided an ideal setting for powerful riders who enjoy punchy hills. First-year pro Brianna Walle (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) set the fastest time in the first group of riders and held it until the second wave of riders took off and teammate Janel Holcomb (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) took over hot-seat from Walle. Once the third wave set off it became quickly apparent from time splits that it was going to be a battle between Small, McGrath, Powers and Jade Wilcoxson (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies).
Small, who favored teammate Stevens for the win, dug deep the second half of the race to get her first national championship win. "At the turn-around I was five seconds down and I made up all my time on that second lap," said Small about her race strategy. "I knew I had some work to do. I just thought 'Hold on for dear life, and go as hard as you can.' The race was at the top of the hill, so I went as hard as I could to the top."
The final wave of finishers provided an exciting finish for spectators as Jade Wilcoxson crossed the line with the fastest time of the day. Wilcoxson's lead was short-lived as she was quickly unseated by McGrath, and then Small, who both finished with faster times. The crowd waited anxiously to see if Powers or Stevens would be able to unseat Small from the hot-seat but it was not to be. Small's time of 42:37.70 stood as the day's best and she was crowned National Champion at the first event to be held concurrently with the pro men.
Second place finisher, and Kristin Armstrong protege, Kristin McGrath lost the lead by a mere one second but was already planning her next move as the Exergy-TWENTY16 team broke down camp. "To be completely honest I'm bummed. I wanted to cross the line and have nothing left and I did that," said McGrath. "It's motivating. My motto has been 'Each Day Better.' I try to make each time trial better and I've done that so far. There are a lot more things I can do. We haven't even been to the wind tunnel. I'm very motivated now."
Race favorites Alison Power, third place, and Evelyn Stevens, fourth place, both came up short after a strong showing at the Tour of California Invitational time trial a week earlier. It was a bittersweet moment for Stevens who hoped to defend her title but saw her teammate win instead. "Personally I didn't have a great day on the bike but the time trial doesn't lie and it's great to see Carmen win it," said Stevens who fought her way into fourth place over the course of the second lap. "I know she's done a lot of work so I'm excited for her."
Powers, whose early season success tipped her as a favorite, looked ahead to the road race after failing to recapture the national championship she has chased since last winning in 2008. "The prep went well - the team the bike, everything was perfect. They were just faster, " said Powers. "What I like about the road race is that we have a team of eight. Hopefully we can use that to our advantage."
Kristin Armstrong, who coaches both McGrath and sixth place finisher Jacquelyn Crowell, was optimistic about what this championship meant to both her riders and the state of US cycling. "Early in my career there were five or six of us going at it, and that is what I attribute to my success. You have to have competition within your country to become better otherwise you don't push the envelope," said Armstrong at the post race press conference. "With Carmen and Kristen, it's giving two more riders in America hope, so now we have four riders, even more, that are motivated to go after it, and it's only going to raise the time trial game up."
The US Women's Professional Cycling Championships continues on Monday, May 27 when the women start the race at 9am EDT.
|1||Carmen Small (Specialized-lululemon)||0:42:37.70|
|2||Kristin McGrath (Exergy TWENTY16)||0:00:01.25|
|3||Alison Powers (NOW and Novartis for MS)||0:00:12.42|
|4||Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon)||0:00:41.14|
|5||Jade Wilcoxson (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)||0:00:44.53|
|6||Jacquelyn Crowell (Exergy TWENTY16)||0:00:45.64|
|7||Janel Holcomb (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)||0:01:01.33|
|8||Tayler Wiles (Specialized-lululemon)||0:01:10.81|
|9||Jessica Cutler (Vanderkitten)||0:01:26.33|
|10||Brianna Walle (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)||0:01:37.34|
|11||Molly Van Houweling (Metromint Cycling)||0:01:37.74|
|12||Robin Farina (NOW and Novartis for MS)||0:01:47.28|
|13||Jamie Bookwalter (Colavita-Fine Cooking)||0:01:53.25|
|14||Kaitlin Antonneau (Exergy TWENTY16)||0:01:55.10|
|15||Megan Guarnier (Rabobank Liv/Giant)||0:01:58.28|
|16||Amanda Miller (Team TIBCO/To the Top)||0:02:00.38|
|17||Mara Abbott (Exergy TWENTY16)||0:02:01.64|
|18||Alison Tetrick (Exergy TWENTY16)||0:02:26.91|
|19||Andrea Dvorak (Exergy TWENTY16)||0:02:30.62|
|20||Jessica Prinner (CARE4CYCLING p/b Solomon Corp)||0:02:33.25|
|21||Maura Kinsella (NOW and Novartis for MS)||0:02:34.93|
|22||Lauren Hall (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)||0:02:45.89|
|23||Ruth Winder (Vanderkitten)||0:02:52.70|
|24||Devon Gorry (NOW and Novartis for MS)||0:03:04.75|
|25||Ally Stacher (Specialized-lululemon)||0:03:08.78|
|26||Amber Gaffney (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)||0:03:43.95|
|27||Elizabeth Newell (NOW and Novartis for MS)||0:03:54.65|
|28||Amy Charity (Vanderkitten)||0:04:18.82|
|29||Kirsten Sass (Team Gran Fondo)||0:04:25.89|
|30||Katie Ryan (Team Belladium)||0:04:36.71|
|31||Irena Ossola (Team Kenda p/b RACC)||0:04:39.38|
|32||Amy Phillips (Hub Endurance Women's Cycling Team)||0:04:40.27|
|33||Sara Clafferty (Pinnacle p/b Argon 18)||0:04:43.52|
|34||Addyson Albershardt (Pasta Zara-Cogeas)||0:05:19.44|
|35||Kathryn Donovan (NOW and Novartis for MS)||0:05:28.91|
|36||Melinda Spratt (Louis Garneau Factory Team p/b Fuji)||0:05:45.96|
|37||Rebecca Clark (Healthy Living/Lakeland Endurance Company)||0:05:58.35|
|38||Amanda Ragle (Team Belladium)||0:06:27.51|
|39||Alexis Ryan (NOW and Novartis for MS)||0:06:32.60|
|40||Catherine Dewberry (Team Belladium)||0:07:20.23|
|41||Christina Birch (I AM Racing)||0:08:06.84|
|42||Jennifer Schuble (I AM Racing)||0:08:18.53|