The USA Cycling Juniors, U23, Elite & Para Road National Championships opened on Wednesday with the first five national titles awarded in the junior road races. Just under 200 of the nation’s top young road cyclists took to the 11-kilometer loop course around Augusta’s Fort Gordon as temperatures rose into the mid-90s.
In a truly national event, the 10-16 year-old men and women competing today represented 30 different states and cycling clubs and teams of all shapes and sizes. Wednesday’s young competitors also showed the diversity of the sport of cycling with many crossing over from other primary disciplines to find success on the road.
In the morning’s opening contest, Courtney Comer (San Marcos, Calif./San Diego Bicycle Club) emerged from a lead group of five to take the first of 70+ Stars-and-Stripes national championship jerseys to be awarded this week with a victory in the junior 10-12 women’s road race. Accustomed to riding on the track, Comer used her strong sprint to out kick silver-medalist Ann Weigel (Clermont, Fla./Orlando Road Club) and bronze-medalist Isabella Brookshire (Hendersonville, N.C./Velosports Racing Asheville). Moriah Swan (Alpine, Calif./Strive Racing) and Annalise Oestreich (Powder Springs, Ga./Fulton Flyers) rounded out the lead group that was able to build a gap on the course’s rolling back stretch on the final of two laps.
Things came down to a two-man sprint in the 10-12 men’s road race with Sean McElroy (Palmdale, Calif.) outsprinting Mateo Jorgenson (Boise, Idaho/Boise Young Riders Dev. Squad) for the national title. Jorgenson attacked on the course’s backside the final time around the two-lap affair but McElroy jumped on the reigning silver-medalist’s wheel. The pair worked together to build a lead on the 30-man field in the final stretch of the 22-kilometer race. McElroy, the 2011 USA Cycling BMX 12-and-under Cruiser National Champion, was able to outkick Jorgenson in the final 200-meters.
“This national title feels better than my BMX national title because I had to work harder for this one,” said McElroy.
In the 13-14 women’s road race, Skylar Schneider (West Allis, Wisc./Team TIBCO II), whose sister Samantha is a former U23 national champion, continued her family’s winning tradition taking her third career Stars-and-Stripes jersey. Schneider, last year’s 10-12 road race and criterium national champion, was able to sit on the wheel of silver-medalist Marta Morris (Grand Junction, Colo.) in the final stretch and then blow around to the finish earning the victory. Danielle Mullis (Rochester, Mich./Wolverine Sports Club), Zoe Mullins (Altamonte Springs, Fla./Colavita Racing) and Katherine Santos (Louisville, Ky./Red Zone Cycling) surged from the 12-woman lead group to round out the podium.
I really focused on my sprint, where to start, where to kick it in and I think that really helped out a lot,” explained 13-year old Schneider. “(Each of my national titles) feel good because I trained a lot, really work hard with my sister, Sam – she’s helped a lot, my Team TIBCO and my mentor Meredith Miller.”
The 13-14 junior men’s race provided yet another exciting sprint finish as Robbie Farrens (Stockton, Calif./Rocket Sports-DJ’s Excavation) turned it on around the final corner to earn his first national title.
“Coming into the final turn I was in about sixth spot when a rider to my left attacked,” explained Farrens. “I just took advantage of the opening and turned it on with about 200 meters to go.”
With the day’s largest field of 76 starters, the junior men’s 13-14 race quickly strung out on the first of three laps. The peloton soon settled until the end of lap two when a crash took several pre-race favorites out of commission and split the field. The pace then slowed on the final lap setting things up for a large sprint finish. Along with Farrens, Sean Rice (Annandale, N.J./Somerset Wheelmen) and Tom Dudzik (Burlington, Conn./Eastern Bloc Cycling) won the battle for positioning to take home the silver and bronze hardware.
The longest event of the day, the women’s 55-kilometer road race, wrapped things up with Sarah Huang (Kenosha, Wisc./Nova Cycle Sports Foundation Inc.) coming out on top to collect her sixth national title.
“They’re all an honor,” stated Huang after the win. “I’m proud because all of the girls are really strong. It feels good every time.”
The 28 starters rode mostly together for the five-lap affair with a lead bunch of heavy hitters separating themselves with around a kilometer remaining. Huang found herself second-wheel after the final turn and was able to punch it up the slight incline to take home the Stars-and-Stripes just ahead of Corrie Osborne (Mequon, Wisc./Nova Cycle Sports Foundation Inc.-ISCorp Cycling Team) and Michelle Blake (Orlando, Fla./Colavita Racing). Last year’s silver medalist Laurel Rathbun (Monument, Colo./Chipotle Junior Development Team) and Zoe Frazier (Suwanee, Ga.) of Atlanta’s powerful Frazier Cycling team rounded out the top five.
Podium presentations for today’s contests, along with tomorrow’s time trial awards, will take place tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Augusta’s Downtown Amphitheatre.
Racing will continue at the USA Cycling Juniors, U23, Elite and Para Road Cycling National Championships tomorrow with the time trial competition for all divisions at the J. Strom Thurmond Dam & Lake.
Top 5 Junior Women 15-16 Road Race – 55 kilometers (Complete Results)
1. Sarah Huang (Kenosha, Wisc./Nova Cycle Sports Foundation Inc.) 1:46:43
2. Corrie Osborne (Mequon, Wisc./Nova Cycle Sports Foundation Inc.-ISCorp Cycling Team) 1:46:43
3. Michelle Blake (Orlando, Fla./Colavita Racing) 1:46:44
4. Laurel Rathbun (Monument, Colo./Chipotle Junior Development Team) 1:46:44
5. Zoe Frazier (Suwanee, Ga./Frazier Cycling) 1:46:44
Top 5 Junior Men 13-14 Road Race – 33 kilometers
1. Robbie Farrens (Stockton, Calif./Rocket Sports/DJ’s Excavation) 53:30
2. Sean Rice (Annandale, N.J./Somerset Wheelmen) 53:30
3. Tom Dudzik (Burlington, Conn./Eastern Bloc Cycling) 53:31
4. Samuel Rosenberg (Eugene, Ore.) 53:31
5. Adrien Costa (Los Altos, Calif./San Jose Bicycle Club) 53:31
Top 5 Junior Women 13-14 Road Race – 33 kilometers
1. Skylar Schneider (West Allis, Wisc./Team TIBCO II) 1:00:12
2. Marta Morris (Grand Junction, Colo.) 1:00:13
3. Danielle Mullis (Rochester, Mich./Wolverine Sports Club) 1:00:14
4. Zoe Mullins (Altamonte Springs, Fla./Colavita Racing) 1:00:14
5. Katherine Santos (Louisville, Ky./Red Zone Cycling) 1:00:14
Top 5 Junior Men 10-12 Road Race – 22 kilometers
1. Sean McElroy (Palmdale, Calif.) 39:41
2. Mateo Jorgenson (Boise, Idaho/Boise Young Riders Dev. Squad) 39:46
3. Samuel Kophazi (Fort Mill, S.C./South Carolina Break) 40:44
4. Aditya Gummadi (Suwanee, Ga./Frazier Cycling) 40:49
5. Hans Vandenberg (Saint Augustine, Fla./Velobrew Cycling Club) 40:49
Top 5 Junior Women 10-12 Road Race – 22 kilometers
1. Courtney Comer (San Marcos, Calif./San Diego Bicycle Club) 41:49
2. Ann Weigel (Clermont, Fla./Orlando Road Club) 41:51
3. Isabella Brookshire (Hendersonville, N.C./Velosports Racing Asheville) 41:54
4. Moriah Swan (Alpine, Calif./Strive Racing) 41:55
5. Annalise Oestreich (Powder Springs, Ga./Fulton Flyers) 41:55