Shawn Milne was named 2007 professional men's criterium champion by USA Cycling as a result of Kirk O'Bee's recent lifetime ban from competition by the United States Anti-doping Agency (USADA). All of O'Bee's results from October 3, 2005, to July 29, 2009, have been nullified, including his 2007 professional criterium championship.
Canada's Martin Gilbert was the first rider across the finish line at the 2007 USPRO criterium championship in Downer's Grove, Illinois, while Health Net p/b Maxxis teammates O'Bee and Milne finished second and third. As first American across the finish line, O'Bee was awarded the US national championship and Milne claimed the silver medal.
It's been a time of mixed emotions for the 28-year-old Milne, who now finds himself a national champion more than three years after the fact. "A lot of people have been really excited for me and exuberant, but I don't think it changes much in my world now," Milne told Cyclingnews. "It's weird to think about because it's not like I get to celebrate. I personally think of it as kind of an asterisk but at the same time they're sending me a jersey and I'll now be known as a US champion and that's pretty cool to think about."
While Milne will be recognized as the national champion in the record books, he's been denied the chance to feel the full benefit of the title, particularly wearing the stars-and-stripes jersey in competition.
"That's always the biggest pull of winning a national championship in cycling is you get the attention for an entire year," said Milne. "People have talked to me and said that it's so unfortunate that it's worked out this way, but back at that race I did my job perfectly."
Milne played the consummate team player role to perfection in the championship race in 2007 for his teammate O'Bee and Milne is pragmatic about contemplating an alternate scenario to the race.
"For him to not be there doesn't mean I automatically would have won," said Milne. "He was my teammate at the time so my job was to watch his wheel, and I did it perfectly and beat everyone else other than my teammate. So there's no regrets there because I did achieve my goal for the day.
"Our plan that day was to have two lead-outs. Because it was raining it was too chaotic to have a full squad on the front so we had a mini lead-out for him (O'Bee) and a mini lead-out for me. He had our best lead-out guy, Karl Menzies, and so it was just knowing that he was option number one and I was option number two.
"In the perfect world, which is actually what happened, Menzies led him out with me on his wheel. Somehow he (O'Bee) let Martin [Gilbert] in there, he shouldn't have and I don't know how he got there. It ended up being Menzies, Martin Gilbert, Kirk and then me into the final corner.
"My option would be to try to pick a different line through that corner and hope to come out with a ton more speed or just sit and watch. I didn't want to try to shoot the inside and then wash-out, take out my teammate and have a guaranteed win for the team end up with two of us sitting in the corner. So I tried to swing really wide and come out with a lot of speed and that ended up being the slower line and that's how I came in a couple of bike lengths behind."
Milne has been a professional for six years, the last three spent with the US Continental Team Type 1 squad. The team has not renewed Milne's contract for 2011, and he's currently looking for a new team for next season.
"I'm still looking and hoping a couple of things will open up," said Milne. "Who knows, maybe this [national championship] will help?"
With the road season over, Milne is currently competing on the cyclo-cross circuit. "I live really close to Tim Johnson and Jesse Anthony and they've successfully sucked me into the fall season, just doing the New England thing," said Milne. "I've had a really slow road season so I figured I'd keep going a little bit in 'cross just for the fun of it."
With Kirk O'Bee's 2007 criterium championship nullified, the new American medalists are Shawn Milne, first; Alex Candelario, second; and Tony Cruz, third.
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