USA Cycling professional time trial preview - Men

Tom Zirbel to defend title but Phinney starts as favorite

Many of the fastest time trialists in the nation will be on the start line at the USA Cycling professional time trial championships held on Saturday, May 24 in Chattanooga, TN, outside the factory of title sponsor Volkswagen.

Defending champion in the men's time trial, Tom Zirbel (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), had a strong showing at the Tour of California Stage 2 time trial after finishing in eleventh place, just under a minute and a half behind winner Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky). Although he left California feeling ill, he has recovered and will be attempting to defend his title.

"I'm feeling better," Zirbel told Cyclingnews. "I'm excited that the course is the same and that I'm over this cold, so that I can give the defense my best shot. It wasn't the ideal preparation but I should be good to go on Saturday. I think Taylor Phinney is generally considered the favorite, so I guess there's less pressure in that sense, although it doesn't really change my approach. I'm excited to get out there and race hard."

BMC's Taylor Phinney is a favorite to win the championship title. He placed third in the time trial at the Tour of California and won Stage 5 into Santa Barbara. His teammate Peter Stetina will not be racing the time trial but will be participating in the road race on Memorial Day Monday.

Other riders to watch out for during the weekend of racing are Garmin-Sharp's Tom Danielson, Nathan Brown, Caleb Fairly, Phil Gaimon, Alex Howes, along with former road champion Ben King, Cannondale's Ted King, Trek Factory Racing's Matthew Busche, Ben Jacques-Maynes (Jamis-Hagens Berman) and Zirbel's teammate Scott Zwizanski, among others.

Racers will have one hour to warm up on the time trial course prior to the start of the professional races. The man will head out onto the course at 2:00 pm.

Riders will complete two laps of a 15.4km circuit, totaling roughly 30.9km. They will 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. Riders will 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.

It is expected to be a fast course off the starting ramp and mainly rolling downhill and flat, however, the most challenging part of the course will be after the first turnaround, where the course undulates predominantly uphill on the way back to the start-finish line.

After the time trial, USA Cycling professional road championships will continue on Monday, May 26 with a road race in Chattanooga.

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