Jonny Brown wins US Pro Road Championships in Knoxville

Jonny Brown (Hagens Berman Axeon) shocked the men's peloton Sunday at the US Pro Road Race Championships in Tennessee, taking an upset win after dropping his breakaway companions on the penultimate lap of a course in his adopted hometown of Knoxville and soloing across the line to thunderous applause from the thrilled crowd.

Robin Carpenter (Rally Cycling) finished second, and Jacob Rather (Jelly Belly-Maxxis) rounded out the podium on a brutally hot and fast day that saw less than 20 riders actually make it to the finish line. The rest were given pro-rated times as the race envelope became too big, and straggling groups were pulled off the course.

Brown, who at 21 is the youngest-ever US Pro Road Race champion, joined Carpenter, Rathe and UnitedHealthcare's Gavin Mannion in a four-rider moved that sneaked away from the field about halfway through the 191.2km race. Brown then jumped away from his breakaway companions on the second-to-last lap and built up a gap of over a minute as the remaining trio was unable to get back on terms.

"I was in tears, honestly," Brown told Cyclingnews after the podium ceremony. "Seeing the finish right there and knowing I had it, I just couldn't believe it. Especially in my new city. It's just unbelievable."

Brown attacked the breakaway just after the descent off the day's major climb when he saw a lull in the action.

"Everyone was just kind of looking at each other a little bit because Gavin Mannion went really hard up the climb that time, and through the feedzone everyone was just kind of looking at each other, so I knew it was my chance to get ahead, because once I did then they would just be, like, 'Oh, who's going to chase?'"

Mannion said the trio behind believed they'd be able to pull Brown back after he showed signs of weakness throughout the day.

"We went pretty hard and then lulled after the descent coming into the feedzone, and he just hit us and everyone kind of looked at each other," Mannion said. "I think he was playing poker with us all day, because he didn't look so strong and he was missing turns, so we thought we'd just bring him back, and it never happened."

Brown told Cyclingnews he used his relative youth and inexperience to play a bit of possum with his breakaway companions.

"I was doing way fewer pulls than everyone else, and they would pull way longer than me, and I was using that to my advantage, being like, 'I'm the young guy in this. You guys are stronger and more experienced,' and they just let me keep doing it, which played into my strength to the end."

Rathe agreed with Mannion that the chasing trio never believed Brown would be able to hold his attack to the line.

"It was a long ways out, and hats off to him," Rathe said. "It blew me away. We were pulling, and Carpenter's no slouch – Mannion same story – so I figured just stick with the strong guys, but no. It was really impressive. I could not fathom how he was just going away. We were rolling, and he was 50 seconds, then 1:10. It was, like, 'What's going on here?'"

How it unfolded

The men's peloton tackled 15 laps of a 12.75km course for a total of 191.2km. The lumpy, twisty course included a major obstacle in the climb up Sherrod Road – a 1km ascent that started just over a kilometre from that start/finish, reaching pitches of 10 per cent on the twisty-but-narrow tarmac. At the finish, a short kicker into the final corner about 125 metres out led to a slightly downhill run to the line.

Temperatures nearing 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the typical high humidity of the American southeast added to the challenge of the day, while several rain showers late in the race cooled things down for the finale.

A breakaway of four formed near the start of the second lap, with Cole Davis (Hagens Berman Axeon), Eric Young (Rally Cycling), Austin Stephens (303 Project) and Kirk Albers (First Internet Bank) peeling off the front on the Sherrod Road climb.

Neilson Powless (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Zeke Mostiv (Hagens Berman Axeon) bridged on the descent off the climb to boost the numbers to six. Sean Bennett (Hagens Berman Axeon) and Ben Schmutte (First Internet Bank) bridged up to the leaders next, and the bunch decided the move was too dangerous to let go and reeled them back in.

A new break formed by the start of the third lap, with 12 riders jumping away before the start/finish and quickly solidifying a 45-second gap. The escapees then had 1:15 going up Sherrod Road for the third time.

In the group were UnitedHealthcare's Travis McCabe, Hagens Berman Axeon's Chris Blevins, Jonny Brown and Thomas Revard, Holowesko-Citadel's Morgan Schmitt, Rally Cycling's Kyle Murphy and Emerson Oronte, 303 Project's Andrew Clemence, Aevolo's Lance Haidet, Elevate-KHS's Kevin Girkins and Jelly Belly-Maxxis' Steve Fisher.

A second group of eight riders bridged to the leaders to form a new lead group of 20, which looked like an unmanageable situation, but the peloton appeared unconcerned as the gap started to go up. The leaders' advantage was 1:10 as they started lap 4.

Ben King (Dimension Data) jumped away from the field next, attempting to bridge to the leaders and sweeping up three riders who had fallen out of the front group along the way. The attempt was short lived, however, as the group lost impetus and were quickly swallowed up by the field.

The lead group of 17 started the lap 5 trip up Sherrod Road with a gap of about one minute. Among the revised lead formation were WorldTour riders Powless, Chad Haga (Team Sunweb) and Joey Rosskopf (BMC Racing). Other riders who bridged to the group were Jelly Belly's Jacob Rathe, UnitedHealthcare's Daniel Eaton, and First Internet Bank's Ryan Knapp and Nicholas Torraca.

EF Education First-Drapac didn't like the group up the road and sent Nathan Brown and Logan Owen to bring the race back under control. The WorldTour duo dragged the leaders' advantage down to just 30 seconds as they started lap 6.

The field brought the group back over the next lap, and a new group of four formed off the front that included Rathe, Rally's Robin Carpenter, UnitedHealthcare's Gavin Mannion and Hagens Berman Axeon's Brown. Holowesko-Citadel's Brendan Rhim jumped out of the field to try to bridge.

The lead quartet came through the start/finish with eight laps to go with a two-minute lead over the splitting peloton. On the ensuing lap, Powless jumped away from the field and quickly put a minute into the bunch as he attempted to chase down the leaders.

With seven laps to go, the leaders come through the line with 2:05 on Powless, 2:30 on Dimension Data's King, 3:25 to 303 Project's Cullen Easter and Rally's Kyle Murphy, while the field was 4:15 behind the leaders.

King connected with Powless during the next lap, giving the bridging move a better chance at success, but the gap was 2:50 when they came through with six laps to go. The field came through at 3:36, led by BMC's Bookwalter.

The leaders rebuilt their advantage on the next lap, with the gap back to Powless and King going to 3:40 and the field at 4:25. Six riders from the field caught King and Powless in the feedzone, with Bookwalter, McCabe, Revard, Kiel Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo), Brandon McNulty (Rally Cycling) and defending champion Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue Sport) forming a new chase group of eight.

The chase languished about 3:50 behind the leaders as they saw four to go, while the much-reduced field was almost five minutes back, led across the line by Haga. Over the following lap, McCabe dropped form the chase, which peeled only five seconds away from the leaders, crossing the line with three to go, 4:45 back. Riders in the field appeared to realise their race was over, as the gap ballooned to well over five minutes.

Powless lost contact on the climb up Sherrod Road, reducing the first chase group down to Bookwalter, Revard, Reijnen, McNulty, King and Warbasse, who were 3:25 behind the leaders with two laps remaining.

Brown took his leave from the breakaway on the penultimate lap, distancing his former three breakaway mates early in the lap and powering on alone. He opened an initial 20-second gap over the trio he left behind, while the second chase of six remained 3:15 back.

Brown took the bell with one lap to go with a one-minute gap over Carpenter, Rathe and Mannion, while the second chasing group of six riders splintered as the riders crossed the line with a gap of nearly four minutes.

From there, Brown just had to hold on, crossing the finish line for, in his own words, an "unbelievable" win, 45 seconds ahead of Carpenter to become the road race national champion.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jonathan Brown (USA) Hagens Berman Axeon4:41:11
2Robin Carpenter (USA) Rally Cycling0:00:45
3Jacob Rathe (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis0:01:17
4Gavin Mannion (USA) UnitedHealthcare0:01:21
5Benjamin King (USA) Team Dimension Data0:02:41
6Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-SegafredoRow 5 - Cell 2
7Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team0:02:42
8Lawrence Warbasse (USA) Aqua Blue Sport0:02:44
9Thomas Revard (USA) Hagens Berman Axeon0:02:48
10Brandon Mcnulty (USA) Rally Cycling0:03:24
11Joseph Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing Team0:07:53
12Chad Haga (USA) Team SunWeb0:07:59
13Alex Howes (USA) EF Education First-Drapac0:08:03
14Kevin Girkins (USA) Elevate-KHS Pro CyclingRow 13 - Cell 2
15Alexey Vermeulen (USA) Interpro Stradalli Cycling0:08:09
16Emerson Oronte (USA) Rally Cycling0:08:27
17Alex Hoehn (USA) Aevolo Cycling Inc.0:09:45
18George Simpson (USA) Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling0:09:57
19Kyle Murphy (USA) Rally Cycling0:09:58
20Neilson Powless (USA) Team Lotto NL - Jumbo0:09:59
21Travis Mccabe (USA) UnitedHealthcareRow 20 - Cell 2
22Taylor Shelden (USA) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 21 - Cell 2
23Samuel Boardman (USA) Marc Pro Cycling TeamRow 22 - Cell 2
24Jarret Oldham (USA) First Internet Bank CyclingRow 23 - Cell 2
25Eric Brunner (USA) 303 ProjectRow 24 - Cell 2
26Scott Mcgill (USA) Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek DeRow 25 - Cell 2
27Lance Haidet (USA) Aevolo Cycling Inc.Row 26 - Cell 2
28Ryan Knapp (USA) First Internet Bank Cycling0:10:02
29Stephen Bassett (USA) Silber Pro CyclingRow 28 - Cell 2
30Noah Granigan (USA) CCB Foundation - SicleriRow 29 - Cell 2
31Corey Davis (USA) Cyclus SportsRow 30 - Cell 2
32Justin Mauch (USA) Marc Pro Cycling TeamRow 31 - Cell 2
33Nicholas Torraca (USA) Elevate-KHS Pro CyclingRow 32 - Cell 2
34Dennis Ramirez (USA) Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek DeRow 33 - Cell 2
35Ben Schmutte (USA) First Internet Bank CyclingRow 34 - Cell 2
36Kent Ross (USA) Hedrick RacingRow 35 - Cell 2
37Griffin Easter (USA) 303 ProjectRow 36 - Cell 2
38Austin Gomes (USA) Project Echelon RacingRow 37 - Cell 2
39Gavin Murray (USA) Marc Pro Cycling TeamRow 38 - Cell 2
40Kyle Stoffan Thornton (USA) Hedrick RacingRow 39 - Cell 2
41Brett Wachtendorf (USA) Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek DeRow 40 - Cell 2
42Curtis White (USA) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 41 - Cell 2
43Gage Hecht (USA) Aevolo Cycling Inc.Row 42 - Cell 2
44Grant Ellwood (USA) 303 ProjectRow 43 - Cell 2
45Connor Sallee (USA) Cyclus SportsRow 44 - Cell 2
46Sean Gardner (USA) Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek DeRow 45 - Cell 2
47Quinten Kirby (USA) Marc Pro Cycling Team0:10:04
48Evan Huffman (USA) Rally CyclingRow 47 - Cell 2
49Timothy Savre (USA) Project Echelon RacingRow 48 - Cell 2
50John Mccann (USA) First Internet Bank CyclingRow 49 - Cell 2
51Tyler Stites (USA) Aevolo Cycling Inc.Row 50 - Cell 2
52Evan Bausbacher (USA) Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek DeRow 51 - Cell 2
53Eric Hill (USA) Project Echelon RacingRow 52 - Cell 2
54Evan Hartig (USA) Project Echelon Racing0:10:05
55Andrew Giniat (USA) Cyclus SportsRow 54 - Cell 2
56Patrick Collins (USA) CCB Foundation - SicleriRow 55 - Cell 2
57Cory Lockwood (USA) Project Echelon RacingRow 56 - Cell 2
58Spencer Downing (USA) Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek DeRow 57 - Cell 2
59Matthew Zimmer (USA) Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek DeRow 58 - Cell 2
60Franklin Deese (USA) Cyclus SportsRow 59 - Cell 2
61Richard Randall (USA) Cyclus SportsRow 60 - Cell 2
62Evan Bybee (USA) Holowesko-Citadel p/b ArapahoRow 61 - Cell 2
63Daniel Lausin (USA) Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek DeRow 62 - Cell 2
DNFNathan Brown (USA) EF Education First-DrapacRow 63 - Cell 2
DNFLogan Owen (USA) EF Education First-DrapacRow 64 - Cell 2
DNFEdward Anderson (USA) Hagens Berman AxeonRow 65 - Cell 2
DNFSean Bennett (USA) Hagens Berman AxeonRow 66 - Cell 2
DNFChristopher Blevins (USA) Hagens Berman AxeonRow 67 - Cell 2
DNFCole Davis (USA) Hagens Berman AxeonRow 68 - Cell 2
DNFIan Garrison (USA) Hagens Berman AxeonRow 69 - Cell 2
DNFEzekiel Mostov (USA) Hagens Berman AxeonRow 70 - Cell 2
DNFMiguel Bryon (USA) Holowesko-Citadel p/b ArapahoRow 71 - Cell 2
DNFAndrew Dahlheim (USA) Holowesko-Citadel p/b ArapahoRow 72 - Cell 2
DNFTaylor (T.J.) Eisenhart (USA) Holowesko-Citadel p/b ArapahoRow 73 - Cell 2
DNFJohn Murphy (USA) Holowesko-Citadel p/b ArapahoRow 74 - Cell 2
DNFBrendan Rhim (USA) Holowesko-Citadel p/b ArapahoRow 75 - Cell 2
DNFMorgan Schmitt (USA) Holowesko-Citadel p/b ArapahoRow 76 - Cell 2
DNFCharles Huff (USA) Rally CyclingRow 77 - Cell 2
DNFColin Joyce (USA) Rally CyclingRow 78 - Cell 2
DNFTyler Magner (USA) Rally CyclingRow 79 - Cell 2
DNFDanny Pate (USA) Rally CyclingRow 80 - Cell 2
DNFEric Young (USA) Rally CyclingRow 81 - Cell 2
DNFDaniel Eaton (USA) UnitedHealthcareRow 82 - Cell 2
DNFAdrian Hegyvary (USA) UnitedHealthcareRow 83 - Cell 2
DNFEric Marcotte (USA) UnitedHealthcareRow 84 - Cell 2
DNFTanner Putt (USA) UnitedHealthcareRow 85 - Cell 2
DNFDillon Caldwell (USA) 303 ProjectRow 86 - Cell 2
DNFCharles (Mac) Cassin (USA) 303 ProjectRow 87 - Cell 2
DNFMaxx Chance (USA) 303 ProjectRow 88 - Cell 2
DNFAndrew Clemence (USA) 303 ProjectRow 89 - Cell 2
DNFCullen Easter (USA) 303 ProjectRow 90 - Cell 2
DNFIsaiah Newkirk (USA) 303 ProjectRow 91 - Cell 2
DNFJake Silverberg (USA) 303 ProjectRow 92 - Cell 2
DNFAustin Stephens (USA) 303 ProjectRow 93 - Cell 2
DNFTaylor Warren (USA) 303 ProjectRow 94 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Hernandez (USA) Aevolo Cycling Inc.Row 95 - Cell 2
DNFNicholas Mckey (USA) Aevolo Cycling Inc.Row 96 - Cell 2
DNFImeh Nsek (USA) Aevolo Cycling Inc.Row 97 - Cell 2
DNFJason Saltzman (USA) Aevolo Cycling Inc.Row 98 - Cell 2
DNFDenzel Stephenson (USA) Aevolo Cycling Inc.Row 99 - Cell 2
DNFGabriel Mendez (USA) CCB Foundation - SicleriRow 100 - Cell 2
DNFSpencer Petrov (USA) CCB Foundation - SicleriRow 101 - Cell 2
DNFConor Schunk (USA) CCB Foundation - SicleriRow 102 - Cell 2
DNFJake Sitler (USA) CCB Foundation - SicleriRow 103 - Cell 2
DNFCooper Willsey (USA) CCB Foundation - SicleriRow 104 - Cell 2
DNFWinston David (USA) Cyclus SportsRow 105 - Cell 2
DNFOliver Flautt (USA) Cyclus SportsRow 106 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Gearren Ii (USA) Cyclus SportsRow 107 - Cell 2
DNFParker Kyzer (USA) Cyclus SportsRow 108 - Cell 2
DNFBenjamin Renkema (USA) Cyclus SportsRow 109 - Cell 2
DNFSamuel Bassetti (USA) Elevate-KHS Pro CyclingRow 110 - Cell 2
DNFGavin Hoover (USA) Elevate-KHS Pro CyclingRow 111 - Cell 2
DNFCory Williams (USA) Elevate-KHS Pro CyclingRow 112 - Cell 2
DNFSteve Fisher (USA) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 113 - Cell 2
DNFKeegan Swirbul (USA) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 114 - Cell 2
DNFBenjamin Wolfe (USA) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 115 - Cell 2
DNFKirk Albers (USA) First Internet Bank CyclingRow 116 - Cell 2
DNFRobert Sroka (USA) First Internet Bank CyclingRow 117 - Cell 2
DNFJohn Becker (USA) First Internet Bank CyclingRow 118 - Cell 2
DNFChaz Hogenauer (USA) Hedrick RacingRow 119 - Cell 2
DNFLewis Whiley (USA) Hedrick RacingRow 120 - Cell 2
DNFChristopher Horner (USA) Team IlluminateRow 121 - Cell 2
DNFTyler Williams (USA) Israel Cycling AcademyRow 122 - Cell 2
DNSRichard Arnopol (USA) Project Echelon RacingRow 123 - Cell 2
DNSRyan Oboyle (USA) Project Echelon RacingRow 124 - Cell 2

 

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