Defending my title with Team No Team

It has been a whirlwind week after finishing the Amgen Tour of California. My Saxo-Tinkoff team and I put in a solid performance supporting Mick Rogers in his overall effort landing him on the podium at the end of the race. While I was satisfied with our work and with the opportunity to get eight more days of racing in my skimpy season so far, I came out of the race pretty banged up.

My crash on stage 2 left me limping along the rest of the week to the finish in Santa Rosa. The injuries were not catostrophic, but some massive bruising on my sternum and ribs and some serious whiplash isn't too fun. I did my best, but I was frustratingly uncomfortable the whole time. A quick trip back home to Colorado was spent with a few hours of therapy each day with massage, accupuncture, and chiropractic. I was also busy tying up loose ends before my wife and I head back to Europe for the rest of the summer immediately after the US Pro National Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

After arriving in Chattanooga I decided to skip the time trial to give my body one more day to heal. A hard effort on the TT bike wasn't going to make my neck and ribs feel any better. In a season with limited racing so far, I was bummed to skip yet another, but it is what it is. I really want to make sure I'm as ready as possible for defending my national title in the road race on Monday.

Instead of hitting the time trial, I took a mellow morning with my wife and got some good training in on the roads around Chattanooga. I'd love to come back here again with some more time to explore because the riding here looks awesome!

In contrast to the other races on the calendar, the national championships present a unique challenge to some of the WorldTour riders like myself who compete on teams with few or no other Americans. In fact, there are four of us in the race with no teammates. Without the regular support of our respective team staff for food prep, mechanical work, massage, and logistics, we're left to our own devices to get everything organized to be ready to go on the start line.

For the third year running, we've got another version of "Team No Team" going here in Chattanooga, including solo WorldTour riders Ted King, Matthew Busche, and myself. It has proven to be a successful formula in the past, as Ted and I have been on the podium the last two years as Liquigas-Cannondale teammates. It's not always the teams with the big numbers that win the race here.

My generous equipment sponsors SRAM and Zipp have equipment dialed and ready for me here. Through friends and friends of friends, we've engaged the local "militia," arranging motorpacing, massage, soigneur duties, mechanic work, and feedzone coverage. My coach Jon from Fascat Coaching in Boulder, Colorado is out to act as our director for the race, driving the car and dealing with logistics.

It takes some time and energy to put it all together but at the end of the day everything is exactly how we need it. It has been a blast meeting new friends here in the community of Chattanooga through the whole process, and I can't thank enough all of those involved in "Team No Team" this year.

The circuit in Chatttanooga will be a tough one, with four times up Lookout Mountain and technical downtown circuits at the start and finish. I'm looking forward to a challenging and unpredictable race tomorrow, and I'll certainly do my best to keep the stars and stripes on my back for another year.

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