Lawson Craddock (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) won the elite men’s time trial title at USA Cycling Pro Road National Championships and retained the title he captured last year in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Twenty-year-old Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers) held the lead for most of the afternoon, but was eclipsed by Craddock on the final lap and settled for second place. George Simpson (Project Echelon Racing) secured the final spot on the men’s podium.
“I’m really happy and really proud to keep the jersey for another year," Craddock said. "There was a lot of work that guys like Marco Pinotti have put in over the last six months to give us the best chance, and I think we’re really seeing the results from that. It was just me flying the flag for the team out here, but I felt the support from everyone back in Europe and Australia, and I’m really happy I had the opportunity to come here and fight for the jersey again."
A total of 36 riders were split into five waves for the elite men’s time trial national title. The men used the same, flat 11.6km (7.2-mile) course as the women, completing three circuits for a total of 34.9km along the shores of Melton Lake, located 30 minutes west of Knoxville. By the time the final riders were finishing, the temperature gage had risen to 36 degrees Celsius (97 Fahrenheit).
Craddock fired on all pistons to record a winning time of 40:39. Sheffield finished just three seconds off that hot pace, and Simpson was a full 1:47 back. Three more Project Echelon Racing riders would follow their teammate in fourth through sixth places - Zach Gregg, Tyler Stites, and Stephen Vogel.
The defending champion completed his first lap just five seconds slower than Sheffield, who set the best time from the early wave, and while Human Powered Health’s Chad Haga had almost 32 seconds to make up to match Craddock’s time. By the second intermediate point, Craddock had reeled back two seconds to Sheffield, but Haga had dropped more than a minute and a half and was out of contention.
Simpson was in the hot seat with a time of 42:27 and held a solid advantage as riders from the next pair of waves crossed the finish, Samuel Boardman (L39ION of Los Angeles) 1:29 back and teammate Tyler Stites getting within 37 seconds. Then Sheffield rode the fastest first split by 41 seconds over Simpson and increased his lead to 1:15 by the second checkpoint. He held the hot seat as the favourites completed their three turns on the course.
"In the end it was a great battle with Magnus, he’s a really great rider with an incredibly promising future," Craddock said. "I had to pull a few tricks out of the bag to squeak the win, but it’s a really exciting day for me and I’m really proud of what we, as a team, have accomplished.”
Last year as a teenager, Sheffield finished sixth in the elite men's time trial riding for Rally Cycling. He's now in his first contract year of three with WorldTour powerhouse Ineos Grenadiers and continues to make an impact despite his young age.
“I’m happy. I made a big improvement and step up from last year," Sheffield noted. "Obviously, I came here to win. It’s a big travel to come over here to the US, but I’m really lucky that my team helped support me in letting me come over here. Yeah, I really hope to return next year to try to take the jersey.”
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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. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp. She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times (not fast). Her favorite road rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in Provence (France), and some mtb rides in Park City, Utah (USA).
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