Road Race - Women: Knoxville - Knoxville
Lauren Stephens (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank) claimed the first US Pro national championship title of her long and decorated career, soloing to the victory in Knoxville after bridging across to teammate Clara Honsinger, who was part of the day's early breakaway and then riding clear on the final lap.
"I've waited so long for this and worked so hard - it's just so exciting to finally accomplish this goal," Stephens said. "It's amazing. I didn't do the TT in preparation for the road race. It was a big step for me to not do the time trial. We were coming out here to win the road race."
Coryn Rivera (Team DSM) won the sprint for second place ahead of Veronica Ewers (Fount Cycling) from a small chasing group.
Lauren DeCrescenzo (Cinch Cycling) attacked with 48km to go and stayed out front until Stephens attacked from the chasing group, had a brief respite behind Honsinger, then blasted past the solo leader in the closing kilometres.
The Unbound Gravel 100 champion put her head down like she did in Emporia, Kansas and charged to the line in the downhill finish on Gay Street.
"We were amazing today. We had Clara [Honsinger] in the break from the beginning and we just made the race hard. I came across to Clara and she held me into that final climb. And then I just unleashed,” a breathless Stephens told Cyclingnews at the finish line. “It was just amazing. And after Unbound, I got my spirits high again.
"We came out at the beginning to make this a hard race. We were on the attack from the first lap with a couple of riders and got Clara up the road in a pretty significant break. It put a lot of pressure on the peloton," said Stephens, who had eight one-day European races in her legs this year, finishing 10th in Gent-Wevelgem, and then won Unbound Gravel 100.
"As the peloton got smaller and smaller and the break got smaller and smaller, it was time to mix it up a little bit. I bridged across to Clara, who then closed it to the leader at the time, Lauren De Crescenzo, right at the bottom of the climb, with less than a lap to go. I just gave it all there and rode solo to the line.
"The heat was really good for me, I would have liked it even hotter. But I did throw up at the top of the climb, the last time up, so I knew I was digging deep."
Rivera, the 2018 elite road champion, added a third silver to her collection on Sunday.
"We're always shooting to win and I thought we had a really good chance today. I just had one hesitation there where Lauren [Stephens] attacked in the beginning of the feed zone on the last lap. I think not the most ideal situation there, and I think everyone was trying to get a feed there as well, so depending upon how you look at it a smart move or not. It's a kind of rider you don't give a single second to on a course like this," Rivera said after the race.
It's the first road race national championship for Ewers, and only her second year racing. Her team was very active in the pro criterium and again in the road race.
"My team Fount Cycling Guild is super scrappy. Today, that hill was pretty tough. We are all on 1x [gearing] so we were grinding up that hill pretty hard. We're used to it in Seattle with the hill, but Olympians in the field and other strong women, it pushed me up that hill," Ewers said.
"We stayed together [as a team] for a good amount of time. When I was able to get in the chasing group, the rest of the team held the fort in the back with the main peloton."
Team director Jennifer Wheeler, who also raced today, said Ewers came to Fount riding in sweat pants and tennis shoes, and "she has the most grit I've ever seen in anybody."
How it unfolded
Under bright blue skies and warm temperatures, the women's peloton of 69 riders began nine laps of a 12.6km course for a total of 114.6 kilometres. The twisty course was the same as in 2019, with the first major obstacle coming after the opening kilometre with the climb up Sherrod Road, a 1km ascent with sections of 10 per cent gradient.
It was along the first pass on the shady slopes of Sherrod Road that riders started to test the peloton. A move by Clara Honsinger (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank) was matched by Holly Breck (Rally Cycling), Margot Clyne (DNA Pro Cycling Team) and Morgan Aguirre (Fount Cycling Guild) forming the first breakaway. Behind, a few chasers made attempts to break the grasp of the peloton, with Lauren De Crescenzo (Cinch Elite) joining the group on lap two.
On the second lap, Daphne Karagianis (LA Sweat) joined forces with Ava Sykes (LUX/sideshow p/b Specialized) gave it a go, with Karagianis joining the lead group, while Aguirre had lost touch at the front.
The five leaders had opened a gap of 1:55 on the peloton as they rolled into lap three, with Ruth Winder and Taylor Wiles of Trek-Segafredo leading a steady pace behind in the peloton.
The gap was closed down to 1:06 on the fourth lap, but De Crescenzo seemed to pick up the pace to extend the lead again on the next lap to 1:43.
On lap six with 30 miles to go, De Crescenzo accelerated on James White Parkway to open a small solo lead, followed by Breck and Honsinger, who used the next kilometre to chase her down and form a lead trio. Clyne had been absorbed by the peloton and in between was Karagianis, a little over a minute behind the trio, and 1:40 ahead of the peloton.
As the temperatures began to increase, the numbers in the peloton fell as they sped down Gay Street for a seventh lap. Criterium champion Kendall Ryan (L39ION of LA) was out of the race due to cramping in her legs, which she attributed to high humidity. The main had been whittled away to less than 30 riders.
All the big names remained in the chasing peloton: the Trek duo of Winder and Wiles, Leah Thomas (Movistar), Megan Jastrab and Coryn Rivera (Team DSM), Skylar Schneider (L39ION of LA), Krista Doebel-Hickok, Emma White, Katie Clause and Lily Williams (Rally Cycling), Emily Newsom, Lauren Stephens and Kristen Faulkner (TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank), Alexis Ryan (Canyon-SRAM), Shayna Powless (TWENTY24), Debbie Milne (Supra Functional Food Bars), Amber Neben (Cogeas Mettler Look Pro Cycling), Clyne and four riders from Fount Cycling.
Meanwhile, De Crescenzo took off again at the front, this time riding solo on the descent of the Sherrod climb, and had opened a 15-second advantage with 22 miles to go on Breck and Honsinger, Karagianis still sandwiched between the leaders and dwindling peloton.
With two laps to go, De Crescenzo had a 45-second advantage over just one rider, Honsinger, who had opened a one-minute gap over Breck in third place. Winder was still leading the charge in the peloton, which had finally made the catch of Karagianis, but was 2:03 behind the solo leader.
With 11 miles to go, Stephens had bridged up to her teammate Honsinger to work together to chase down De Crescenzo. With one lap to go, the pair was just 20 seconds behind the lone leader.
De Crescenzo's shoulders started to rock slightly on the final climb of Sherrod Road, and on the descent, Stephens made the pass and took on time-trial mode to keep everyone at bay.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Lauren Stephens (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank||3:11:19|
|2||Coryn Rivera (USA) Team DSM||0:01:06|
|3||Veronica Ewers (USA) Fount Cycling Guild|
|4||Krista Doebel-Hickok (USA) Rally Cycling||0:01:10|
|5||Tayler Wiles (USA) Trek-Segafredo||0:01:11|
|6||Kristen Faulkner (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank|
|7||Amber Neben (USA) Cogeas Mettler Look Pro Cycling Team||0:01:18|
|8||Lauren De Crescenzo (USA) CINCH ELITE||0:01:19|
|9||Alexis Ryan (USA) Canyon-SRAM Racing||0:01:31|
|10||Leah Thomas (USA) Movistar Team Women||0:01:34|
|11||Megan Jastrab (USA) Team DSM||0:04:07|
|12||Clara Honsinger (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank||0:04:08|
|13||Heidi Franz (USA) Rally Cycling||0:06:04|
|14||Debbie Milne (USA) Supra Functional Food Bars||0:06:07|
|15||Shayna Powless (USA) Team TWENTY24|
|16||Marjie Bemis (USA) Robson Forensic P/B Milligan Cy||0:06:09|
|17||Kathleen Abadie (USA) Fount Cycling Guild|
|18||Emily Newsom (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank||0:06:10|
|19||Jennifer Wheeler (USA) Fount Cycling Guild||0:06:12|
|20||Alia Shafi (USA) Fount Cycling Guild||0:06:13|
|21||Michelle Howe (USA) Fount Cycling Guild|
|22||Sinead Miller (USA) Nashville Local Cycling||0:06:17|
|23||Ruth Winder (USA) Trek-Segafredo||0:06:25|
|24||Holly Breck (USA) Rally Cycling||0:07:18|
|25||Daphne Karagianis (USA) LA Sweat|
|26||Gabrielle Lehnert (USA) LUX/sideshow p/b Specialized|
|27||Skylar Schneider (USA) L39ION of Los Angeles|
|28||Ayesha Mcgowan (USA) Liv Racing|
|29||Margot Clyne (USA) DNA Pro Cycling Team|
|30||Madeline Bemis (USA) Rally Cycling|
|31||Kaitlin Keough (USA) L39ION of Los Angeles|
|32||Sierra Sims (USA) Robson Forensic P/B Milligan Cy|
|33||Allison Mrugal (USA)|
|34||Liza Rachetto (USA) DNA Pro Cycling Team|
|35||Stefanie Sydlik (USA) 3T/ Q+M Cycling|
|36||Sommers Creed (USA) Classic Cycling P/B B-Line|
|37||Gillian Bennett (USA) DT Racing|
|38||Lily Williams (USA) Rally Cycling|
|39||Claire Windsor (USA) Supra Functional Food Bars|
|40||Emma White (USA) Rally Cycling|
|41||Margaux Mcbirney (USA) LUX/Sideshow p/b Specialized|
|42||Bethany Matsick (USA) Liberty University|
|43||Katie Clouse (USA) Rally Cycling|
|44||Rachel Jordan (USA) 3T/ Q+M Cycling|
|45||Tracey Jacobs (USA) CINCH ELITE|
|46||Jaime Larmer (USA) Roxo Racing|
|47||Kimberly Lucie (USA) DNA Pro Cycling Team|
|48||Krystal Burnham (USA) Robson Forensic P/B Milligan Cy|
|49||Catherine Dewberry (USA) Team Belladium|
|50||Sarah Schuetter (USA) Robson Forensic P/B Milligan Cy|
|51||Tracy Carrington (USA) Roxo Racing|
|52||Sara Fletcher (USA) Robson Forensic P/B Milligan Cy|
|53||Kathryn Aman (USA) 3T/ Q+M Cycling|
|54||Andrea Fasen (USA) CINCH ELITE|
|55||Stephanie Poole (USA) Fount Cycling Guild|
|56||Merrill Thierman (USA) Classic Cycling P/B B-Line|
|57||Vanessa Romano (USA) Philly Bike Expo P/b VeloJawn|
|58||Nicole Jurisch (USA) Roxo Racing|
|59||Faith Powell (USA) Nashville Local Cycling|
|DNF||Kendall Ryan (USA) L39ION of Los Angeles|
|DNF||Ava Sykes (USA) LUX/Sideshow p/b Specialized|
|DNF||Sarah Hoots (USA) Classic Cycling p/b B-Line|
|DNF||Florence Howden (USA) Classic Cycling p/b B-Line|
|DNF||Katy Sorrell (USA) Classic Cycling p/b B-Line|
|DNF||Morgan Aguirre (USA) Fount Cycling Guild|
|DNF||Amber Smolik (USA) Roxo Racing|
|DNF||Caitlin Milne (USA) Supra Functional Food Bars|
|DNF||Kira Payer (USA) CCB BikeReg|
|DNF||Ava Hachmann (USA) Levine Law Group Elite Women’|
|DNF||Hannah Dalsing (USA)|
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Megan Jastrab (USA) Team DSM||3:15:27|
|2||Marjie Bemis (USA) Robson Forensic P/B Milligan Cy||0:02:02|
|3||Gabrielle Lehnert (USA) LUX/sideshow p/b Specialized|
|4||Gillian Bennett (USA) DT Racing|
|5||Claire Windsor (USA) Supra Functional Food Bars|
|6||Katie Clouse (USA) Rally Cycling|
|7||Vanessa Romano (USA) Philly Bike Expo P/b VeloJawn|
|8||Faith Powell (USA) Nashville Local Cycling|
|DNF||Ava Sykes (USA) LUX/Sideshow p/b Specialized|
|DNF||Kira Payer (USA) CCB BikeReg|
Jackie has been involved in professional sports for more than 30 years in news reporting, sports marketing and public relations. She founded Peloton Sports in 1998, a sports marketing and public relations agency, which managed projects for Tour de Georgia, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Cycling. She also founded Bike Alpharetta Inc, a Georgia non-profit to promote safe cycling for people of all abilities and ages. Tyson has been recognized for communications excellence with 10 Phoenix Awards, presented by the Georgia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp - and was recognized by a national media outlet as the first female depicted in a pro baseball card set (Ft. Myers Royals). She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times. Her favorite road rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in Provence (France). Her favorite mountain bike rides are in Park City, Utah (USA).
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