The U.S. team continued its World Championships campaign on Saturday with Kristin Armstrong (17th in the women's race) and John Murphy (119th in the U23 men's race) the best finishers, after a late-race crash claimed the hopes of protected sprinter Tyler Farrar.
Tabbed as one of the pre-race favourites after a string of victories and solid performances in late summer, the 22-year-old Farrar was hoping for a mass sprint finish in the 168 km race. Unfortunately for Farrar and his teammates, an early-race breakaway that went unchecked by the U.S. squad proved to be the team's undoing after having to spend most of the day helping to chase down the move.
While jockeying for position for the ensuing field sprint in the closing miles, Farrar got tangled up, hit the pavement and was forced to abandon the race. The group he was in went on to sprint for fourth place, 33 seconds behind winner Grabovskyy.
John Murphy was the highest placed U.S. rider, placing 119th out of 135 finishers after leading the chase effort to help bring Farrar closer to the breakaway. "We missed the break and we were working to chase with two laps to go," explained Murphy. "We did everything we could do to bring it back."
Steven Cozza and Michael Wolf were the only other finishers of the five-man U.S. squad, credited with 131st and 134th respectively. John Devine did not finish.
The bronze medalist in Wednesday's elite women's time trial, Kristin Armstrong placed 17th in the 126 km elite women's race, after late-race attacks from Christine Thorburn and Amber Neben failed, opening the door for a powerful German squad to lead out designated sprinter Regina Schleicher for the win.
Spread out over six laps of the same 21 km circuit, the final lap saw two solo breakaway efforts by the U.S. riders. Neben's attempt in the closing miles grew to ten seconds, but teams intent on keeping the field together for a mass sprint refused to let Neben advance too far up the road.
"I jumped and I was able to get a gap but I didn't have the legs today to stick it," admitted Neben after the race. "It was still okay because it strung things out long enough to get it back to the final stretch and then hopefully we had Tina (Pic), Kristin and Christine there to finish things off, but the Germans were strong today and they've got that lead out train dialled in."
Thorburn placed 18th and Neben 33rd. Other U.S. finishes included Tina Pic in 38th, Kori Seehafer in 53rd, Katheryn Curi in 66th and Laura Van Gilder in 98th.
Pic was tabbed as one of the designated sprinters for the U.S. squad, but fell off the pace on the day's final ascent. "The final climb was too much for me, I lost contact there," said Pic, "It was very technical in between the climbs, everyone was fighting for position. If I would have been there, they might have tried to set me up for the sprint. This was the best world's team ever. We were so cohesive, everyone helping everyone else out."
"We had a really strong team," commented Neben. "Young in the sense there were some riders with no world championship experience, but strong, and we had hopes of getting on the podium. I think we raced smart today and it just didn't pan out. It would have been nice in the end if we would have been able to get a small group off and then take our chances from there. I'm confident in these girls and they all rode great."
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