Reigning Junior time trial world champion Brandon McNulty's first year in the professional ranks with Rally Cycling hadn't gone to plan after he fractured his hip at the Volta ao Alentejo in February, but the 19-year-old from Arizona bounced back Wednesday with a win in the opening time trial at the North Star Grand Prix, his first professional victory.
"This is my first win in the professional ranks, and to do it at the team's hometown race is really special," McNulty said, alluding to Rally's home base in Minneapolis, Minnesota. "I have been building toward nationals, which is just a couple of weeks away, so I am pretty close to where I need to be."
McNulty covered the 8km course in 9:17, with teammate and defending North Star champion Evan Huffman coming in seven seconds slower for second. Bryan Gomez (Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek U25 Development) was third, 11 seconds down, tied on time with Mac Brennan (Holowesko-Citadel).
The win is the culmination of McNulty's return to competition after a two-month recovery from the fractured hip. In his first race back at the Redlands Bicycle Classic last month, McNulty finished fifth in the opening time trial and was second overall. He finished 20th in the Winston-Salem Criterium and did not finish the road race the next day, all pointing toward Wednesday's result.
"It has been a long road back from my injury at Alentejo," McNulty said. "For the first couple weeks I was on crutches and had to do a lot of therapy in the pool before I could get back on the bike. For a fractured pelvis, the recovery went as well as could be expected, but it definitely set me back. Today was confirmation that I am headed the right direction before nationals."
McNulty won his rainbow jersey last year in Doha, Qatar, coring the 28.9km course in 34:42, 35 seconds faster than runner-up Mikkel Bjerg of Denmark.