Six Stars-and-Stripes jerseys were awarded in Bend on Tuesday as action got underway at the 2009 USA Cycling Junior, U23, Elite & Paralympic Road National Championships. The opening day schedule was a full one with junior cyclists in the 10-12, 13-14, and 15-16 age categories all toeing the line to duke it out for national titles on a rolling road race course that started at Bend’s Summit High School.
Tuesday was hot and sunny in Bend and the day’s racing saw riders take a 2.5 kilometer stretch of road to a hilly, five-kilometer loop. The women’s 10-12 group was the first to roll away from the start/finish area for three laps of the course. Two riders, Ciara Hopkins (Clermont, Fla.) and Abigail Aldridge (Duluth, Ga./Frazier Cycling), went off the front almost immediately and built a significant lead on the rest of the field. The pair stayed together for almost all of the 20 kilometers, but with one kilometer to go, Hopkins made an attack that would win her the first Stars-and-Stripes jersey of the week. Aldridge made a valiant effort to bridge back up to the leader, but Hopkins was too strong and Aldridge soloed over the line for the silver medal. Making the bronze medal effort in the first race of the day was Emma White (Delanson, NY), while Rachel Cross (Costa Mesa, Calif./Sho-air/Sonance) and Amelia Tanner (Irvine, Calif./Jetcycling) rounded out the podium in fourth and fifth.
The junior men’s 10-12 field, 43 riders strong, was the next to toe the line for the same 20-kilometer course. A group of sixteen got away early, but by the final lap – there were only six riders left setting the pace at the front. When the front group approached the finish line, it was an all out battle for the five podium spots up for grabs. Gage Hecht (Parker, Colo./ICCC) proved to be the strongest sprinter in the group, crossing the line first to claim the national title while Grant McElroy (Portland, Ore./Beaverton, Bicycle Club) was right behind him for the silver medal. Daniel Willett (San Clemente, Calif.) grabbed the bronze medal while Ethan Reynolds (Boise, Idaho/Byrds) and Ian McShane (Louisville, Ken./Red Zone Cycling) won the final two coveted podium steps.
Riding five laps for a total of 30 kilometers, the junior women 13-14 proved to be a competitive bunch. The pace picked up at the end of the fifth lap, and as eight riders made it down the home stretch together, an all-out battle for the number one spot ensued. Zoe Frazier (Suwanne, Ga./Frazier Cycling) pedaled the strongest over that final stretch to claim the top prize while Sarah Huang (Kenosah, Wis./NOVA IS Corp) and Katrina Howard (Fresno, Calif./Vapor Racing) were right there with her to earn the silver and bronze medals. Hannah Mossman (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Sara Youmans (Ketchum, Idaho/Byrds) also finished in the lead group, in fourth and fifth.
With the sun directly overhead, a strong field of 60 riders toed the line for the men’s 13-14 race. After seven laps on the hot course, the riders were fairly spread out with two young men setting the pace up front – Michael Dessau (Boulder, Colo./5280) and Jordan Cullen (Hudson, Wis./MBRC Flanders). With a national title on the line, the pair was going head-to-head by the time they reappeared to the crowd near the start/finish area. Dessau won the sprint finish and slipped into the fourth Stars-and-Stripes jersey of the day with Cullen crossing the line right behind him for the silver medal. Logan Owen (Bremerton, Wash./Hagens Berman) was the next rider to complete the 40-kilometer contest, pedaling into the start/finish about nine seconds off the winning pace for the bronze medal. Twenty seconds later, a group of four entered into a battle for the two remaining podium spots with Jonathon Schilling (Grover, Mo./Mesa) besting the others for the fourth-place step and Austin Clevenger (Bellingham, Wash./Rad Racing NW/Hagens Berman) claiming fifth place.
The women’s 15-16 race was the penultimate event of the day, and the ladies contested nine laps of the rolling course. Unlike the previous races, the ladies in this group stayed together for the entire contest which made for an exciting field sprint at the end. It was Ruth Winder (Lafayette, Calif./Proman Hit Squad) who proved to have the strongest legs after the 50 kilometers, beating out the rest of the field for the national title. Somersby Jenkins (Santa Barbara, Calif./Echelon of Santa Barbara) and Grace Alexander (Boise, Idaho/Byrds) were the next to sprint over the line for the silver and bronze medals while Kaitlyn Lawrence (Emmaus, Pa./Team Vortex Cycling Club) and Ashlyn Gerber (Sanford, Fla./All Sport-Team Swift) completed the podium in fourth and fifth.
As the day continued to heat up, so did the racing. The men’s 15-16 competition was the final event contested on Tuesday, and with a large field of 77 riders, it was an action-paced race for a full 75 kilometers. By the time the riders were four laps into their 14-lap contest, three riders were off the front, setting a pace that was difficult for the others to match. David Kessler (Cherry Hills Village, Colo./5280), Yannick Eckmann (Boulder, Colo./5280), and Paul Lynch (Colchester, Conn./Mystic Velo Club) immediately became the contenders to win the national championship. Another trio, consisting of Christopher Flanagan (San Francisco, Calif./All Sport-Team Swift), Shannon Maris (Buckley, Wash./ASC Racing/Redline, and Yuma Koishi (SJBC/Sugar CRM), left the main pack and spent almost the entire race attempting to bridge up to the leaders. By the time the racers had only three laps to go, the trio in front had two minutes on their chasers and three minutes on the rest of the field. As the leaders made their way off of the 14th lap and into the home stretch, it became a battle between two instead of three as Kessler and Eckmann picked up the pace and dropped Lynch. Kessler outsprinted Eckmann for the gold medal and Lynch came across a few seconds later for the bronze medal. The final podium spots went to Flanagan and Maris.
Action heats up even more on Wednesday as the junior women 17-18 take to the road in the morning and the U23 men’s event highlights the afternoon.
Complete results here
Photo Gallery on usacycling.org
Report courtesy of usacycling.org