Five juniors were named the best in the country in their respective age divisions as the USA Cycling Juniors, U23, Elite and Paralympic Road National Championships opened on Tuesday. Several para-cyclists also claimed national titles on the opening day of racing that started and finished outside Bend’s Summit High School.
Unlike one year ago when racers battled record 100+ degree heat during the road race portion of competition, Tuesday’s highs were in the mid 70s. Hundreds of America’s best young riders took to the 2.5 kilometer stretch of road under comfortably sunny skies out to the hilly, five-kilometer loop.
Skylar Schneider (West Allis, Wisc.) opened up this year’s action by continuing her family’s legacy with a win in the 10-12 year old women’s division. The younger sister of the reigning U23 road race national champion Samantha Schneider (West Allis, Wisc./TIBCO/To The Top), Skylar surprised reigning USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Champion Mina Anderberg (Louisville, Colo./Flatiron Flyers Junior Cycling) by outkicking her in the final straight. The pair, along with Jenna Gardner (West Jordan, Utah/PCIM) and Julyn Aguila (El Paso, Texas) broke away from the 12-rider field early in the 20-kilometer affair and never looked back.
In the 10-12 men’s division last year’s silver medalist Grant McElroy (Portland, Ore./Beaverton Bicycle Club) showed his growth, emerging from a six-rider lead group to win the sprint to the finish in powerful fashion. McElroy, Matteo Jorgenson (Boise, Idaho/Boise Young Rider Dev. Squad), Christopher Blevins (Durango, Colo./Durango Devo), Gage Hecht (Parker, Colo./Intl. Christian Cycling), Michael Hocking (Boise, Idaho/Boise Young Rider Dev. Squad) and Daniel Willett (San Clemente, Calif./Southern Cali. Velo) built a nearly one minute lead on the 32-rider field during the three laps on the lollipop course. After working together much of the race, McElroy was able to win the sprint to the line by more than a bike length over the top young racers in the nation, including last year’s champion, Hecht.
The 13-14 women’s race provided another exciting finish with four-time road race national champion Katrina Howard (Fresno, Calif./Vapor Racing) out sprinting her lead group of three. Mid-way through the five-lap, 30-kilometer event, Howard was able to bridge up to leaders Laurel Rathbun (Monument, Colo.) and Kirsten Williams (Lonetree, Colo./Natural Grocers).
“The moto said they were 25 seconds ahead and I knew I couldn’t let that go, so I attacked,” explained Howard after collecting yet another Stars-and-Stripes jersey. “I looked back and (the field) wasn’t behind me so I just had to drill it.”
Once amongst the leaders Howard, a powerful sprinter, hung on until the last 250-meters where she turned on the jets and collected her eighth overall Stars-and Stripes jersey.
Three different regions of the country were represented in the lead break of three in the men’s 13-14 road race. Philip O’Donnell (Suwanee, Ga./Frazier Cycling), Dylan Drummond (Walnut Creek, Calif./Tieni Duro Juniors) and Daniel Parks (Dallas, Texas/GS Tenzing) broke away around three laps into the seven lap affair.
“I sat in for a little bit and then me and Danny got a gap going,” said O’Donnell. “Then we came (into the finishing straight), Danny went, and I counter attacked and that seemed to do the trick.”
The 30+ rider 15-16 women’s field capped off the day in fine fashion with seven ladies animating the race out front. After 10 trips around the five-kilometer circuits, the pack headed into the finishing straight together for another crowd pleasing breakaway sprint finish. Melissa Garcia (Bethlehem, Pa./Chester County Cycling) led out the sprint from around 200-meters and held on for the win ahead of Alexis Ryan (Ventura, Calif./The TEAM SoCalCross-Team CICLE) and Kayla Sterling (Allen, Texas/Plano Cycling/PAC) with a surge in the final stretch.
Eight U.S. Paralympic National Champions were also crowned across various road racing divisions on Tuesday. Carly Waugh (Knoxville, Tenn.) won the women’s hand cycling road race, while Greta Neimanas (Colorado Springs, Colo./XXX Racing) and Allison Jones (Colorado Springs, Colo./Cody Racing) won the C4/C5 class and C1/C2/C3 classes respectively. Matt Updike (Denver, Colo.) took the men’s H1/H2 hand cycling national title, while Dane Pilon (Fayetteville, N.C.) won in hand cycling H3/H4. Rachfal Clark (Anapolis, Md./Anapolis Racing) and pilot Dave Swanson (Tucson, Ariz./Summit Velo) earned Stars-and-Stripes jerseys in the visually impaired BVI men’s tandem race. Sam Kavanagh (Bozeman, Mont./Gallatin Vall) earned the class C4/C5 title and Mike Farrell (Colorado Springs, Colo./Spike) won in the C1/C2/C3 class.
Junior Women 15-16 Road Race
1. Melissa Garcia (Bethlehem, Pa./Chester County Cycling) 43:21.90
2. Alexis Ryan (Ventura, Calif./The TEAM SoCalCross-Team CICLE) 43:22.00
3. Kayla Sterling (Allen, Texas/Plano Cycling/PAC) 43:22.20
4. Kaitlyn Lawrence (Emmaus, Pa./Vortex/Team Vortex) 43:23.60
5. Sarah Huang (Kenosha, Wis./Nova Cylce Sports) 43:25.80
Junior Men 13-14 Road Race
1. Philip O’Donnell (Suwanee, Ga./Frazier Cycling) 1:07:1.10
2. Dylan Drummond (Walnut Creek, Calif./Tieni Duro Juniors) 1:07:1.40
3. Daniel Parks (Dallas, Texas/GS Tenzing) 1:07:1.50
4. Matthew Valencia (Los Altos, Calif./Team Specialized Racing) 1:08:22.10
5. William Guillen Youngsville, N.C./Raleigh Allstars Cycling Club) 1:08:22.80
Junior Women 13-14 Road Race
1. Katrina Howard (Fresno, Calif./Vapor Racing) 57:9.30
2. Laurel Rathbun (Monument, Colo.) 57:23.70
3. Kirsten Williams (Lonetree, Colo.?Natural Grocers) 57:29.20
4. Claire VanEkdom (Chevychase, Md./Artemis) 59:8.90
5. Dominique Shore (Suwanee, Ga./Frazier Cycling) 59:10.60
Junior Men 10-12 Road Race
1. Grant McElroy (Portland, Ore./Beaverton Bicycle Club) 37:31.00
2. Matteo Jorgenson (Boise, Idaho/Boise Young Rider Dev. Squad) 37:31.00
3. Christopher Blevins (Durango, Colo./Durango Devo) 37:31.00
4. Gage Hecht (Parker, Colo./Intl. Christian Cycling) 37:32.00
5. Michael Hocking (Boise, Idaho/Boise Young Rider Dev. Squad) 37:32.00
Junior Women 10-12 Road Race
1. Skylar Schneider (West Allis, Wisc.) 42:37.20
2. Mina Anderberg (Louisville, Colo./Flatiron Flyers Junior Cycling) 42:39.30
3. Jenna Gardner (West Jordan, Utah/PCIM) 42:48.90
4. Julyn Aguila (El Paso, Texas) 42:52.10
5. Moriah Swan (Alpine, Calif.) 44:46.10