Marcotte relishes jersey collection ahead of US pro nationals

For at least five more days, Eric Marcotte (Team SmartStop) will have the distinction of being the only man to simultaneously own the stars-and-stripes jerseys of both the US professional road race champion and the criterium champion.

Monday in Chattanooga, he’ll get his chance to hold onto that distinction when the Tennessee city hosts USA Cycling's Professional Road and Time Trial Championships on the same road course where Marcotte won last year.

No matter what happens over the Memorial Day weekend in Tennessee, however, Marcotte has already staked his claim to history.

"I'm the only one who's ever done that within the same year, so I'm the first in history and I know no matter what it will never go away," the 35-year-old from Arizona recently told Cyclingnews.

"Of course it's super sweet," he said of winning two championships after turning pro at 34 years old. "I tried to get Elite national championships, but I never thought I'd get professional. I tried to win Elite and I never did. I was always one of the stronger guys, so I was too marked. But in the pro race no one was really thinking of me."

Marcotte's path to the US pro jerseys was not a typical one. He raced on the amateur domestic elite level for years before finally turning pro with SmartStop last year.

Before ever getting a shot at the pro race, however, he actually won two Masters national championships in the 30-34 age group. With that age group now defunct, it's a path to the pro title that no other rider is likely duplicate.

Marcotte is a licensed chiropractor with a thriving practice, which he still works at to keep his clients healthy and happy. He sandwiches time for his practice into the on-the-road lifestyle of a traveling pro and the many hours of training that his two-wheeled job requires.

He's just coming off the Tour of California, where he helped teammate Rob Britton finish 10th, the top non-WorldTour rider at the 2.HC race won by Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), and now his focus is back on the national road championships and his role there. When he won in 2014, he was racing for teammate Travis McCabe but was clearly the strongest rider in the final sprint between a select group of nine riders. SmartStop had the most representation in the final selection, and McCabe finished second for a SmartStop one-two punch.

Marcotte told Cyclingnews repeating that kind of finish is nice to think about, but it's hard to imagine pulling it off two years in a row.

"I know I won't get to race that race that I did last year," he said. "I always go into these things making sure that I'm doing the best for the team and being as fit and healthy as possible, not in a selfish way. I think it always works out the best that way, where if it's not your day it's not your day, and if it is your day you gotta let everybody know."

Marcotte certainly let everyone know it was his day at the criterium championships in April. The SmartStop rider attacked going into the final corner, upsetting the seasoned UnitedHealthcare crit team and crossing the finish line ahead of Ty Magner (Hincapie) and Luke Keough (UnitedHealthcare).

The win looked a lot like his winning move at the road race in 2014, but Marcotte said they were not alike at all.

"What I was doing in road national was getting in front of Travis [McCabe] and getting him where he needs to be safely, and just try to lead that out," he said. "In crit nationals I knew it was done, but in Road nationals I'm pedaling past the line because I just didn't even know what to do. Like 'did that really happen' kind of thing."

It definitely happened, as Marcotte's year in the championship jersey can attest. And it happened again this year at criterium nationals in Greenville, South Carolina. Now Marcotte wants to make it happen one more time this weekend for himself or one of his teammates.

"I think our goal will be like it was last year, and we'll probably try and line it up for Travis, play our cards that way because he's just such a proven rider and he's climbing even better now," Marcotte said.

"My goal isn't going to be to conserve and screw the race over for my teammates who may have a better shot," he said. "No way. My biggest things is to keep the jersey in the team, no matter who has it."

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Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake. He studied English and journalism at the University of Oregon and has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon, with his imaginary dog Rusty.