The fifth and final day of the 2012 USA Cycling Elite, U23, Juniors & Paralympic Road National Championships on Sunday started with the juniors men 17-18 before concluding with the elite men’s and women’s races on the Major Matthew P. Burke, M.D. Championship Course at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Ga. (Read replay of live updates for play by play of the races).
The 23.7-kilometer course filled with rolling hills was made more challenging by soaring temperatures exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The competition was just as hot on the course as all three races came down to final sprints and one was decided by a photo finish.
Elite Women. The 120-kilometer elite women’s road race would crown not only an elite women’s national champion, but a U23 winner would be recognized as well.
After five laps and just over three hours of racing through the late Georgia morning, Megan Guarnier (Mountain View, Calif./TIBCO to The Top) sprinted in ahead of her teammate, Lauren Hall (Dolores, Colo./TIBCO to The Top) for the first national championship of her career. A third rider from TIBCO to The Top, Samantha Schneider (Milwaukee, Wisc.) was the top-placing U23 woman, finishing fifth overall, to earn her second U23 Stars-and-Stripes jersey of the event and second consecutive U23 women’s road race gold medals. Schneider also was the top finisher among U23 women in the elite women’s criterium on Friday to earn that national championship.
A larger lead group was whittled down to four riders about midway through the contest. Andrea Dvorak (Crozet, Va./Exergy Twenty12), Amanda Miller (Fort Collins, Colo./TIBCO to The Top), Anna Barensfeld (Ellwood City, Pa/Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Debbie Milne (Belden, Miss./Absolute Racing Team) built a lead that hovered around two minutes on the field. With less than two laps remaining in the five-lap race, Barensfeld was content sitting in, essentially shutting down the breakaway. The field absorbed the breakaway just after receiving the bell signaling one lap remained in the race.
Despite a lot of animation on the front of the field, none of the attacks stuck and teams began setting up their leadouts for a sprint finish. With Hall and Schneider nearby, Guarnier kicked at the top of the final hill and with Hall in tow, Guarnier cruised through the finish line, while Hall placed second. Carmen Small (Durango, Colo./Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Alison Powers (Pinecliffe, Colo./NOW and Novartis for MS) finished third and fourth, respectively with Schneider placing fifth.
“It’s still kind of surreal,” Guarnier said of winning her first national championship. “I actually got to post today, which is awesome.”
Elite Men. The final event of the competition pitted 176 elite men in a 168-kilometer road race. Julian Kyer (Boulder, Colo./Juwi Solar Cycling), who flashed the speed he used to win the time trial national championship on Thursday, started his sprint about 200 meters from the finish line before coasting to the finish line for what he described as “the biggest win of my career.”
The early laps of the race were animated by a move that grew to as many as 22 riders building a lead that grew as wide as three minutes on the peloton. That move dwindled and three riders attacked that lead group. Kyer, Stefano Barberi (Oak Park, Calif./CashCall Mortgage) and Mathew Davis (Shreveport, La./Team LaS’port) were off the front with three chasers 30 seconds behind them and the field only one minute back.
“I just put it in a huge gear and I just stomped as hard as I could for the whole hill,” Kyer said. “I kept looking back down and I could see Mathew Davis’ wheel starting to come off a bit. I committed to it and punched all the way to the top of the hill and held on for dear life the rest of the way to the finish.”
Davis finished three behind Kyer in second place while Barberi was 11 seconds back to earn the bronze medal. Eric Marcotte (Scottsdale, Ariz./Elbowz Racing) won a bunch sprint for fourth place ahead of Frank Travieso (Winterville, Ga./Team Coco’s).
Juniors Men 17-18. The juniors men 17-18 field showcased 150 of the nation’s best, young road racing talent, including several riders who compete with the USA Cycling National Development Program.
After two hours and twenty-five minutes of racing, road racing supremacy would come down to a field sprint. Miguel Bryon (Miami, Fla./BLUE STAR-BOOM Development Team) won the field sprint, barely edging Logan Owen (Bremerton, Wash./Lake Washington Velo) in a photo finish. Ansel Dickey (Truro, Mass./Killington Mountain School Cycling) earned the bronze medal while Gregory Ratzell (Blandon, Pa./Young Medalists-Team Rothrock) and Stephen Bassett (Knoxville, Tenn./Texas Roadhouse Cycling Team P/B Motorex-Kentucky Flyers Cycling Inc) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Several breakaways and attacks throughout the contest were countered and answered, creating the 200-meter dash to the finish line.
“The heat was definitely a factor,” Bryon said. “Everyone was on their game today. It was really hard. I have a lot of respect for everyone that showed up. Everyone really wanted this win. I thank my coach. I thank my dad, mom for being behind me. My friends and teammates, everyone gave me an extra push to keep going.”
Bryon, who sprinted to a sixth-place finish in the Juniors Pan American Games in Guatemala in April of 2012, collected the second national championship of his career having already won a juniors road race in 2010.
Elite Women – 120 kilometers
1. Megan Guarnier (Mountain View, Calif./TIBCO to The Top) 3:10:21
2. Lauren Hall (Dolores, Colo./TIBCO to The Top) 3:10:21
3. Carmen Small (Durango, Colo./Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) 3:10:21
4. Alison Powers (Pinecliffe, Colo./NOW and Novartis for MS) 3:10:21
5. Samantha Schneider (Milwaukee, Wisc./TIBCO to The Top) 3:10:21
Elite Men – 168 kilometers
1. Julian Kyer (Boulder Colo./Juwi Solar Cycling) 4:02:29
2. Mathew Davis (Shreveport, La./Team LaS’port) 4:02:32
3. Stefano Barberi (Oak Park, Calif./CashCall Mortgage) 4:02:40
4. Eric Marcotte (Scottsdale, Ariz./Elbowz Racing) 4:02:46
5. Frank Travieso (Winterville, Ga./Team Coco’s/Team Cocos) 4:02:46
Juniors Men 17-18 – 96 kilometers
1. Miguel Bryon (Miami, Fla./BLUE STAR-BOOM Development Team) 2:25:22
2. Logan Owen (Bremerton, Wash./Lake Washington Velo) 2:25:22
3. Ansel Dickey (Truro, Mass./Killington Mountain School Cycling) 2:25:22
4. Gregory Ratzell (Blandon, Pa./Young Medalists-Team Rothrock) 2:25:22
5. Stephen Bassett (Knoxville, Tenn./Texas Roadhouse Cycling Team P/B Motorex-Kentucky Flyers Cycling Inc) 2:25:22