Greg Daniel wins US national road race title

Greg Daniel (Axeon Hagens Berman) claimed the USA national road race title with a perfectly timed late attack. He had been in several breaks but made the wining move with just under two kilometres to go. Despite a late chase the bunch were unable to bring back Daniel, with Alex Howes (Cannondale) finishing second and Travis McCabe (Holowesko) in third.

"I tried not to look back but I had to give it full gas as I couldn’t really sprint," Daniel said at the finish. "I got in the final break and felt like I had good legs, and I was really surprised I was able to do that."

Daniel had been in a dangerous group of five also containing Daniel Eaton (UnitedHeathcare), Oscar Clark (Holowesko), Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling), Taylor Shelden (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis). They slipped clear in the final 10km and they looked set to contest the win. However, they were caught on the final ascent of what had been a frantic day of racing. Just as the catch was made Daniel hit for home on the false flat after the climb. The split second of hesitation from behind was all he needed, but after he made his move he began to doubt that he had timed it right.

"Going into the final five kilometers, the group wasn't working together anymore," Daniel said. "I looked back and didn't see anyone, but I didn't know how big the gap was, but it was 5k to go, and I was like, 'I think we should keep working together until the climb'. I was just kind of watching everyone watch each other. In the final climb, I was watching for who was going to make the move on the climb. Oscar Clark was going pretty hard on the climb, and I was waiting for a counter attack that never came. I decided to test my legs and see what I could do."

When he made the move, he quickly opened an unassailable gap, but started to doubt if it was the last lap or not, "'I was like, this the last lap, right? There's not a group up the road? When I came to the line I was looking at the time and the laps, and saw zero and zero, and thought, 'I really won this? There's no way!' It was mostly shock at the finish line. Then I saw the team celebrating, and I couldn't believe it."

With only two riders in the race, himself and sprinter Logan Owen, the Axeon Hagens Berman pair played a tactical race, with Daniel going in the early moves and Owen taking a late flyer that was reeled in on the final lap. But Daniel never predicted he could finish at the top of the podium.

"I'm kind of a spiritual man, and I was praying for strength, courage, wisdom and faith, but deep down I didn't think it was possible. I thought maybe there was a 0.1 per cent chance. But I just had really good legs today. I still can't believe it. I'm expecting to wake up in bed and be like, 'oh yeah, no that was just a dream, we still have to race'."

A visibly disappointed Alex Howes rued the relatively less selective course and the way the race played out. "We just had three of us, and tried to put a little pressure on the other teams, we wanted an aggressive race," Howes said. "I think we did that pretty well. Ben was phenomenal, Phil was as good as you could ask anyone to be. They did a good job of keeping me in the race, keeping it active, and putting the hurt on them. It's pretty hard not to be able to win for them."

McCabe, who won a stage in the Tour of the Gila and placed well in sprints at Tour of California found himself to be a marked man, despite going with several early moves.

"We came into it knowing it was going to be a weird race," McCabe said. "I did a little too much in the beginning, I acknowledge that now. You get caught up in the race, it just happens and you realize you're doing too much. Then I calmed down a bit and let my team do the work. Nationals is always a weird race. I was trying to follow moves and hope that something would stick, but it was pretty obvious I was one of the marked riders and nothing was going to go with me in it."

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How it unfolded

With hot and humid conditions, and no wind to speak of, the race was destined to be one of attrition. The big hitters came out to play early, with Eric Marcotte (Team Jamis), Chris Jones (UnitedHealthcare), Ben Wolfe (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis), Griffin Easter (Team Illuminate), Bryan Lewis (Lupus Racing Team), Greg Daniel (Axeon Hagens Berman), Rob Squire (Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team), Brad Huff (Rally Cycling), and Daniel Eaton (UnitedHealthcare) escaping early in the 12-lap 187km race.

They were chased by an strong group with Ben King (Cannondale Pro Cycling), Jesse Anthony (Rally Cycling), Oscar Clark (Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team), Hunter Grove (Cylance-Cannondale Pro Cycling), Danny Summerhill (UnitedHealthcare), Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthcare), Jonathan Hornbeck (Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team), and Barry Miller (Lupus Racing Team) but the chasers did not it across the two-minute gap, and were brought back with half the lap to race.

A large group came across to the leaders with four laps to go, including defending champion Matthew Busche (UnitedHealthcare), Danny Pate (Rally Cycling), Brent Bookwalter (BMC), Kiel Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo), Alex Howes (Cannondale) - in total 46 riders were in the front group that had more than a minute on the second group.

Evan Huffman (Rally) decided that the group needed fracturing, and attacked to be joined by Daniel Eaton (Unitedhealthcare) and Holowesko-Citadel's Travis McCabe and quickly opened up a big gap to the chase group.

Their move didn't stick, but it did break up the large leading group, and when they were caught with 50km remaining only 20 riders remained in the front of the race, but the rest were chasing not far behind. Cannondale's Phil Gaimon led the front group across the line for three to go, with teammates Alex Howes and Ben King in tow. Bookwalter was forced to chase to close the gap, but with repeated attacks going clear, even with the help of Alexey Vermeulen (LottoNl-Jumbo), it was a tall order.

Over the next laps, the front of the race reformed and broke up several times, with the leading group constantly changing composition. Pate had an ill-timed puncture and was left out of the action, but Bookwalter's 20-strong group made it to the front on the penultimate lap just as Logan Owen (Axeon Hagens Berman) attacked with Taylor Shelden (Jelly Belly). The pair had only a handful of seconds at the start of the final lap.

Mid-way through the lap the pair were caught, setting up a showdown that Daniel won with an attack that no one could answer.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Gregory Daniel (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman4:21:34
2Alex Howes (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:00:05
3Travis McCabe (USA) Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team
4Chad Beyer (USA) Lupus Racing Team
5Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling0:00:06
6Daniel Eaton (USA) UnitedHealthcare0:00:07
7Oscar Clark (USA) Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team0:00:11
8Logan Owen (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman0:00:12
9Robin Carpenter (USA) Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team0:00:13
10Taylor Shelden (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis0:00:16
11John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare0:00:46
12Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team0:00:48
13Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek Factory Racing
14Matthew Busche (USA) UnitedHealthcare
15Alexey Vermeulen (USA) Team Lotto NL - Jumbo
16Robert Squire (USA) Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team
17Jacob Rathe (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
18Griffin Easter (USA) Team Illuminate
19Christopher Butler (USA) Cycling Academy Team0:00:50
20Eric Marcotte (USA) Team Jamis0:00:51
21Bjorn Selander (USA) Rally Cycling0:00:55
22Jake Sitler (USA) Astellas Cycling Team0:01:14
23Benjamin King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:01:15
24Michael Olheiser (USA) Lupus Racing Team0:12:33
25Bryan Lewis (USA) Lupus Racing Team
DNFTanner Putt (USA) UnitedHealthcare
DNFCurtis White (USA) Rally Cycling
DNFMichael Sheehan (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
DNFCharles Huff (USA) Rally Cycling
DNFJonathan Hornbeck (USA) Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team
DNFConnor Brown (USA) Elevate Pro Cycling p/b Bicycle
DNFTravis Livermon (USA) Astellas Cycling Team
DNFBarry Miller (USA) Lupus Racing Team
DNFNicholas Torraca (USA) Elevate Pro Cycling p/b Bicycle
DNFConnor Mccutcheon (USA) Team Illuminate
DNFEvan Murphy (USA) Lupus Racing Team
DNFSepp Kuss (USA) Rally Cycling
DNFJesse Anthony (USA) Rally Cycling
DNFBradley White (USA) UnitedHealthcare
DNFThomas Soladay (USA) Rally Cycling
DNFDaniel Summerhill (USA) UnitedHealthcare
DNFLance Haidet (USA) Team Illuminate
DNFBenjamin Wolfe (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
DNFJoshua Ruiz (USA) Cylance-Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFChristopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare
DNFMat Stephens (USA) Elevate Pro Cycling p/b Bicycle
DNFChristopher Horner (USA) Lupus Racing Team
DNFNolan Tankersley (USA) Lupus Racing Team
DNFCullen Easter (USA) Team Illuminate
DNFAnsel Dickey (USA) Astellas Cycling Team
DNFEmerson Oronte (USA) Rally Cycling
DNFWinston David (USA) Lupus Racing Team
DNFCamilo Zambrano (USA) Cylance-Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFCory Williams (USA) Cylance-Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFEric Young (USA) Rally Cycling
DNFTyler Magner (USA) UnitedHealthcare
DNFCory Greenberg (USA) Cylance-Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFJonah Meadvancort (USA) Lupus Racing Team
DNFKyle Murphy (USA) Team Jamis
DNFJacob King (USA) Team Jamis
DNFSamuel (Hunter) Grove (USA) Cylance-Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFZack Allison (USA) Elevate Pro Cycling p/b Bicycle
DNFDanny Pate (USA) Rally Cycling
DNFOliver Flautt (USA) Lupus Racing Team
DNFMaxim Jenkins (USA) Astellas Cycling Team
DNFShane Kline (USA) Rally Cycling
DNFJulian Kyer (USA) Elevate Pro Cycling p/b Bicycle
DNFPhillip Gaimon (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFJoseph Schmalz (USA) Elevate Pro Cycling p/b Bicycle
DNFMiguel Bryon (USA) Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team
DNFBrendan Rhim (USA) Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team
DNFDavid Williams (USA) Astellas Cycling Team
DNFThomas Zirbel (USA) Rally Cycling
DNFJoshua Berry (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
DNFJason Saltzman (USA) Team Illuminate
DNFChristopher Putt (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
DNFMac Brennan (USA) Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team
DNSJohnathan Freter (USA) Astellas Cycling Team
DNSTaylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team


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