Matthew Busche (Trek Factory Racing) overcame overwhelming circumstances to win his second USA Cycling Professional Road Championship on Monday in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Busche rode 179.3km without any teammates, in the rain, to beat Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Garmin) in the final kilometres of the race.
“There’s only one guy per year who gets to wear the colours of their country,” Busche said. “It’s an honour and a privilege, and I hope that I represent it well for the country.”
Warm and humid conditions gave way to heavy rain as the race progressed into the afternoon. The men’s course was split into three sections. The first third of the race ran riders around four laps of a downtown circuit, which included the Kent Street "wall" and its steep 13 per cent grade. After riders completed the start laps, the course ran four longer laps over Lookout Mountain. The finale was three laps of the same shorter downtown loop riders started on.
A break of 15 riders separated from the field early in the race. The move included last year’s national champion Eric Marcotte (Team SmartStop), Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin), Ben King (Cannondale-Garmin), Tyler Farrar (MTN-Qhubeka) and several Optum and Hincapie Racing riders.
The second trip up Lookout Mountain whittled the break down to Talansky, King, Travis McCabe (SmartStop), Jesse Anthony (Optum), Oscar Clark (Hincapie), Tom Zirbel (Optum) and Scott Zwizanski (Optum). Talansky lit the fireworks on his third time up Lookout Mountain with an attack that opened up a gap of 1:40.
The peloton thought the move might be a winner.
“The third lap up Lookout Mountain Andrew put in quite a bit of time into us,” Dombrowski said. “Just because of the composition of the group behind, I didn’t think it was going to come back. It didn’t seem like anyone was too motivated to chase. I was just on the back watching people pull through but there wasn’t great organization. So I thought he had a good chance of staying away.”
Back in the field, UnitedHealthcare picked up the chase and began to pull back the lead group and Talansky. Phil Gaimon (Optum) took over from UnitedHealthcare on the fourth and final trip up Lookout Mountain. Gaimon’s pace broke apart the field and left him with a strong cadre of riders. The new chase group included Busche, Dombrowski, Chris Horner (Airgas-Safeway) and Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare.)
As Gaimon’s group clawed back Talansky, the freshly minted time trial champion flew down steep, wet roads into Chattanooga. Unfortunately, Gaimon’s championship bid ground to halt after he slid out in a rainy downtown corner. Horner, Busche, and Gavin Mannion (Jelly Belly-Maxxis) were left to power the effort to reel in Talansky.
“In the group there was three of us. Gaimon was pulling really hard, but then he crashed himself out of course,” Horner said. “That seems to be his MO whenever it is slippery, and so we lost his power. So it was just Busche and I doing huge pulls. A couple times a little Jelly Belly kid would come through and do some work, and a few other guys but for the most part it was me and Busche pulling like crazy.
“And Gaimon, he was fabulous, full-on throwing everything into it but then he crashed so it left two of us, and some half-assed work from the other guys, to pull back Talansky.”
His frustration mounting, Horner put in an attack of his own with two laps to go and caught Talansky on the Kent Street climb. Shortly after, Talansky was caught and Dombrowski crashed, but was able to pop up and chase back onto the leaders.
The one-to-go bell signalled disaster for Reijnen, who flatted just as the leaders crossed the start finish line on the final lap.
“The first thing you feel is disappointment for your teammates,” Reijnen said. “Everyone saw out there how hard they worked. We were on the front with not enough guys to do the job and they did the job anyway.”
After making it back to the leaders, Dombrowski found himself in an attack with Busche and Mannion, and Busche seized the opportunity.
“When Joe, Gavin, and I got away, it was a little surprising for me,” Busche said. “I don’t know how the gap opened up, but it is just one of those things. It’s a long race and it only takes a small gap that somebody can’t close and then it’s over. You saw that in 2012 with Timmy Duggan. It’s just the way the championship race is.”
Mannion lost contact with Busche and Dombrowski, and the two remaining riders proceeded to probe each other for weaknesses. Busche put in the final successful attack and only needed to stay upright to win.
“When Joe and I were attacking each other, when I made the attack and got the gap, I was never certain,” Busche said.
“I could blow up and he could come back. When I got the downhill I was fairly certain. Then I had to come back in my own head and be like okay slowdown and don’t crash in the corner because that would most certainly ruin it. But I wasn’t going to slow down until I crossed the line because you never know.”
Busche crossed the line in first with Dombrowski racing in behind him for second. Reijnen rode an heroic final lap to finish third.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Matthew Busche (USA) Trek Factory Racing||4:35:21|
|2||Joseph Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling||0:00:05|
|3||Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare||0:00:19|
|4||Alex Howes (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling|
|5||Christopher Horner (USA) Airgas-Safeway Cycling||0:00:21|
|6||Gavin Mannion (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis||0:00:25|
|7||Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling||0:00:54|
|8||Kyle Murphy (USA) Lupus Racing Team||0:00:59|
|9||Christopher Butler (USA) Team SmartStop||0:01:01|
|10||Carson Miller (USA) Jamis Hagens Berman||0:01:08|
|11||Jonathan Hornbeck (USA) Hincapie Racing Team||0:03:48|
|12||Edward King (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling||0:07:28|
|13||Mac Brennan (USA) Hincapie Racing Team|
|14||Lucas Euser (USA) UnitedHealthcare|
|15||Connor Mccutcheon (USA) Airgas-Safeway Cycling||0:08:45|
|16||Logan Loader (USA) Amore e Vita - Selle SMP||0:09:24|
|17||Maxim Jenkins (USA) Astellas Cycling Team||0:09:40|
|18||Michael Olheiser (USA) Lupus Racing Team||0:10:51|
|19||Stephen Leece (USA) Jamis Hagens Berman||0:19:27|
|20||Emerson Oronte (USA) Team SmartStop||0:29:27|
|DNF||Eric Marcotte (USA) Team SmartStop|
|DNF||Evan Huffman (USA) Team SmartStop|
|DNF||Travis Livermon (USA) Team SmartStop|
|DNF||Travis Mccabe (USA) Team SmartStop|
|DNF||Benjamin King (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Johnathan Freter (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis|
|DNF||Freddie Rodriguez (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis|
|DNF||Scott Zwizanski (USA) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies|
|DNF||Jesse Anthony (USA) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies|
|DNF||Phillip Gaimon (USA) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies|
|DNF||Charles Huff (USA) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies|
|DNF||Bjorn Selander (USA) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies|
|DNF||Thomas Soladay (USA) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies|
|DNF||Curtis White (USA) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies|
|DNF||Eric Young (USA) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies|
|DNF||Thomas Zirbel (USA) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies|
|DNF||Adrian Hegyvary (USA) UnitedHealthcare|
|DNF||John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare|
|DNF||Tanner Putt (USA) UnitedHealthcare|
|DNF||Daniel Summerhill (USA) UnitedHealthcare|
|DNF||Bradley White (USA) UnitedHealthcare|
|DNF||Alexandre Darville (USA) Airgas-Safeway Cycling|
|DNF||Griffin Easter (USA) Airgas-Safeway Cycling|
|DNF||Kevin Gottlieb (USA) Airgas-Safeway Cycling|
|DNF||Matt Rodrigues (USA) Airgas-Safeway Cycling|
|DNF||Tyler Farrar (USA) MTN - Qhubeka|
|DNF||Cortlan Brown (USA) Astellas Cycling Team|
|DNF||Brandon Feehery (USA) Astellas Cycling Team|
|DNF||Stephen Hyde (USA) Astellas Cycling Team|
|DNF||Peter Olejniczak (USA) Astellas Cycling Team|
|DNF||Hogan Sills (USA) Astellas Cycling Team|
|DNF||Jake Silverberg (USA) Astellas Cycling Team|
|DNF||Jake Sitler (USA) Astellas Cycling Team|
|DNF||Gregory Daniel (USA) Axeon Cycling Team|
|DNF||Miguel Bryon (USA) Hincapie Racing Team|
|DNF||Oscar Clark (USA) Hincapie Racing Team|
|DNF||Charlie Hough (USA) Hincapie Racing Team|
|DNF||Tyler Magner (USA) Hincapie Racing Team|
|DNF||Joseph Schmalz (USA) Hincapie Racing Team|
|DNF||Coulton Hartrich (USA) iRT Racing|
|DNF||David Williams (USA) Jamis Hagens Berman|
|DNF||Winston David (USA) Lupus Racing Team|
|DNF||Oliver Flautt (USA) Lupus Racing Team|
|DNF||Shawn Gravois (USA) Lupus Racing Team|
|DNF||Evan Murphy (USA) Lupus Racing Team|
|DNF||James Schurman (USA) Lupus Racing Team|
|DNF||Michael Stone (USA) Lupus Racing Team|
|DNF||Timothy Rugg (USA)|