Greg Daniel (Axeon Hagens Berman) claimed the USA national road race title with a perfectly timed late attack. He had been in several breaks but made the wining move with just under two kilometres to go. Despite a late chase the bunch were unable to bring back Daniel, with Alex Howes (Cannondale) finishing second and Travis McCabe (Holowesko) in third.
"I tried not to look back but I had to give it full gas as I couldn’t really sprint," Daniel said at the finish. "I got in the final break and felt like I had good legs, and I was really surprised I was able to do that."
Daniel had been in a dangerous group of five also containing Daniel Eaton (UnitedHeathcare), Oscar Clark (Holowesko), Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling), Taylor Shelden (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis). They slipped clear in the final 10km and they looked set to contest the win. However, they were caught on the final ascent of what had been a frantic day of racing. Just as the catch was made Daniel hit for home on the false flat after the climb. The split second of hesitation from behind was all he needed, but after he made his move he began to doubt that he had timed it right.
"Going into the final five kilometers, the group wasn't working together anymore," Daniel said. "I looked back and didn't see anyone, but I didn't know how big the gap was, but it was 5k to go, and I was like, 'I think we should keep working together until the climb'. I was just kind of watching everyone watch each other. In the final climb, I was watching for who was going to make the move on the climb. Oscar Clark was going pretty hard on the climb, and I was waiting for a counter attack that never came. I decided to test my legs and see what I could do."
When he made the move, he quickly opened an unassailable gap, but started to doubt if it was the last lap or not, "'I was like, this the last lap, right? There's not a group up the road? When I came to the line I was looking at the time and the laps, and saw zero and zero, and thought, 'I really won this? There's no way!' It was mostly shock at the finish line. Then I saw the team celebrating, and I couldn't believe it."
With only two riders in the race, himself and sprinter Logan Owen, the Axeon Hagens Berman pair played a tactical race, with Daniel going in the early moves and Owen taking a late flyer that was reeled in on the final lap. But Daniel never predicted he could finish at the top of the podium.
"I'm kind of a spiritual man, and I was praying for strength, courage, wisdom and faith, but deep down I didn't think it was possible. I thought maybe there was a 0.1 per cent chance. But I just had really good legs today. I still can't believe it. I'm expecting to wake up in bed and be like, 'oh yeah, no that was just a dream, we still have to race'."
A visibly disappointed Alex Howes rued the relatively less selective course and the way the race played out. "We just had three of us, and tried to put a little pressure on the other teams, we wanted an aggressive race," Howes said. "I think we did that pretty well. Ben was phenomenal, Phil was as good as you could ask anyone to be. They did a good job of keeping me in the race, keeping it active, and putting the hurt on them. It's pretty hard not to be able to win for them."
McCabe, who won a stage in the Tour of the Gila and placed well in sprints at Tour of California found himself to be a marked man, despite going with several early moves.
"We came into it knowing it was going to be a weird race," McCabe said. "I did a little too much in the beginning, I acknowledge that now. You get caught up in the race, it just happens and you realize you're doing too much. Then I calmed down a bit and let my team do the work. Nationals is always a weird race. I was trying to follow moves and hope that something would stick, but it was pretty obvious I was one of the marked riders and nothing was going to go with me in it."
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How it unfolded
With hot and humid conditions, and no wind to speak of, the race was destined to be one of attrition. The big hitters came out to play early, with Eric Marcotte (Team Jamis), Chris Jones (UnitedHealthcare), Ben Wolfe (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis), Griffin Easter (Team Illuminate), Bryan Lewis (Lupus Racing Team), Greg Daniel (Axeon Hagens Berman), Rob Squire (Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team), Brad Huff (Rally Cycling), and Daniel Eaton (UnitedHealthcare) escaping early in the 12-lap 187km race.
They were chased by an strong group with Ben King (Cannondale Pro Cycling), Jesse Anthony (Rally Cycling), Oscar Clark (Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team), Hunter Grove (Cylance-Cannondale Pro Cycling), Danny Summerhill (UnitedHealthcare), Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthcare), Jonathan Hornbeck (Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team), and Barry Miller (Lupus Racing Team) but the chasers did not it across the two-minute gap, and were brought back with half the lap to race.
A large group came across to the leaders with four laps to go, including defending champion Matthew Busche (UnitedHealthcare), Danny Pate (Rally Cycling), Brent Bookwalter (BMC), Kiel Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo), Alex Howes (Cannondale) - in total 46 riders were in the front group that had more than a minute on the second group.
Evan Huffman (Rally) decided that the group needed fracturing, and attacked to be joined by Daniel Eaton (Unitedhealthcare) and Holowesko-Citadel's Travis McCabe and quickly opened up a big gap to the chase group.
Their move didn't stick, but it did break up the large leading group, and when they were caught with 50km remaining only 20 riders remained in the front of the race, but the rest were chasing not far behind. Cannondale's Phil Gaimon led the front group across the line for three to go, with teammates Alex Howes and Ben King in tow. Bookwalter was forced to chase to close the gap, but with repeated attacks going clear, even with the help of Alexey Vermeulen (LottoNl-Jumbo), it was a tall order.
Over the next laps, the front of the race reformed and broke up several times, with the leading group constantly changing composition. Pate had an ill-timed puncture and was left out of the action, but Bookwalter's 20-strong group made it to the front on the penultimate lap just as Logan Owen (Axeon Hagens Berman) attacked with Taylor Shelden (Jelly Belly). The pair had only a handful of seconds at the start of the final lap.
Mid-way through the lap the pair were caught, setting up a showdown that Daniel won with an attack that no one could answer.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Gregory Daniel (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman||4:21:34|
|2||Alex Howes (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling||0:00:05|
|3||Travis McCabe (USA) Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team|
|4||Chad Beyer (USA) Lupus Racing Team|
|5||Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling||0:00:06|
|6||Daniel Eaton (USA) UnitedHealthcare||0:00:07|
|7||Oscar Clark (USA) Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team||0:00:11|
|8||Logan Owen (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman||0:00:12|
|9||Robin Carpenter (USA) Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team||0:00:13|
|10||Taylor Shelden (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis||0:00:16|
|11||John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare||0:00:46|
|12||Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team||0:00:48|
|13||Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek Factory Racing|
|14||Matthew Busche (USA) UnitedHealthcare|
|15||Alexey Vermeulen (USA) Team Lotto NL - Jumbo|
|16||Robert Squire (USA) Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team|
|17||Jacob Rathe (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis|
|18||Griffin Easter (USA) Team Illuminate|
|19||Christopher Butler (USA) Cycling Academy Team||0:00:50|
|20||Eric Marcotte (USA) Team Jamis||0:00:51|
|21||Bjorn Selander (USA) Rally Cycling||0:00:55|
|22||Jake Sitler (USA) Astellas Cycling Team||0:01:14|
|23||Benjamin King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling||0:01:15|
|24||Michael Olheiser (USA) Lupus Racing Team||0:12:33|
|25||Bryan Lewis (USA) Lupus Racing Team|
|DNF||Tanner Putt (USA) UnitedHealthcare|
|DNF||Curtis White (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Michael Sheehan (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis|
|DNF||Charles Huff (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Jonathan Hornbeck (USA) Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team|
|DNF||Connor Brown (USA) Elevate Pro Cycling p/b Bicycle|
|DNF||Travis Livermon (USA) Astellas Cycling Team|
|DNF||Barry Miller (USA) Lupus Racing Team|
|DNF||Nicholas Torraca (USA) Elevate Pro Cycling p/b Bicycle|
|DNF||Connor Mccutcheon (USA) Team Illuminate|
|DNF||Evan Murphy (USA) Lupus Racing Team|
|DNF||Sepp Kuss (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Jesse Anthony (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Bradley White (USA) UnitedHealthcare|
|DNF||Thomas Soladay (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Daniel Summerhill (USA) UnitedHealthcare|
|DNF||Lance Haidet (USA) Team Illuminate|
|DNF||Benjamin Wolfe (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis|
|DNF||Joshua Ruiz (USA) Cylance-Cannondale Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare|
|DNF||Mat Stephens (USA) Elevate Pro Cycling p/b Bicycle|
|DNF||Christopher Horner (USA) Lupus Racing Team|
|DNF||Nolan Tankersley (USA) Lupus Racing Team|
|DNF||Cullen Easter (USA) Team Illuminate|
|DNF||Ansel Dickey (USA) Astellas Cycling Team|
|DNF||Emerson Oronte (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Winston David (USA) Lupus Racing Team|
|DNF||Camilo Zambrano (USA) Cylance-Cannondale Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Cory Williams (USA) Cylance-Cannondale Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Eric Young (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Tyler Magner (USA) UnitedHealthcare|
|DNF||Cory Greenberg (USA) Cylance-Cannondale Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Jonah Meadvancort (USA) Lupus Racing Team|
|DNF||Kyle Murphy (USA) Team Jamis|
|DNF||Jacob King (USA) Team Jamis|
|DNF||Samuel (Hunter) Grove (USA) Cylance-Cannondale Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Zack Allison (USA) Elevate Pro Cycling p/b Bicycle|
|DNF||Danny Pate (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Oliver Flautt (USA) Lupus Racing Team|
|DNF||Maxim Jenkins (USA) Astellas Cycling Team|
|DNF||Shane Kline (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Julian Kyer (USA) Elevate Pro Cycling p/b Bicycle|
|DNF||Phillip Gaimon (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Joseph Schmalz (USA) Elevate Pro Cycling p/b Bicycle|
|DNF||Miguel Bryon (USA) Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team|
|DNF||Brendan Rhim (USA) Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team|
|DNF||David Williams (USA) Astellas Cycling Team|
|DNF||Thomas Zirbel (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Joshua Berry (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis|
|DNF||Jason Saltzman (USA) Team Illuminate|
|DNF||Christopher Putt (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis|
|DNF||Mac Brennan (USA) Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team|
|DNS||Johnathan Freter (USA) Astellas Cycling Team|
|DNS||Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team|