It was a gray and rainy morning in Knoxville, Tennessee, for the start of the U.S. National Pro Road Championships. The country's best time trialists sought shelter underneath team tents, awnings and car hatches as they prepared for today’s race against the clock.
The course consisted of a 7.3-mile lap with 400ft of climbing per lap. The women made their way round the slippery wet lap twice. The men four times.
Back in form: Chloe Dygert storms to a second National Time Trial victory
In the women’s race, all eyes were on the former national and world time trial champion, Chloé Dygert (Canyon-SRAM). The 26-year-old is on a bit of a comeback tour after an horrific leg injury and other ailments left her on the sidelines for the past couple of seasons.
This season, however, she appears to be returning to good form with multiple podium finishes at La Vuelta Femenina and Vuelta a Burgos, and a win at the RideLondon Classique. In addition to showing her return to race form, the performance at the national championships is weighty in order to qualify for the UCI Time Trial World Championship in Glasgow this August, where Dygert hopes to regain the rainbow stripes she last held in 2019.
Dygert wasn’t the only former world champion to line up in Tennessee, however. Competition to her potential stars-and-stripes glory would surely come from 2008 world champion Amber Neben. The 48-year-old veteran of the peloton is a multi-time national and Pan-American time trial champion who’s never to be discounted. Others favored for stars-and-stripes glory included 2021 US road racing champion Lauren Stephens (EF Education - TIBCO - SVB), who’s been on the time trial podium several times already, and newcomer Taylor Knibb (Trek-Segafredo).
A triathlon world champion and Olympic medalist, Knibb announced only this week that she had signed with Trek-Segafredo mid-season with the intent of combining a small road racing calendar with her regular triathlon schedule.
The 25-year-old was ninth off the starting ramp, and soon found herself in the hot seat with a time of 31:41. It wasn’t until the top contenders took to the course that Knibb’s time was challenged.
At the halfway mark, only Dygert managed to outpace the triathlete, started the second half of the course with an 11-second advantage. But it was on the back stretch of the course where, despite the ongoing light rain, the action played out. Crossing the line with a time of 31:15, Stephens was first to unseat Knibb. Dygert then pushed her down another step with a new best-time of 31:06. Neben, the last rider to start, was below pace at the halfway mark but made up some significant time on the back stretch to stop the clock at 31:39, earning herself a bronze medal.
Knibb and Laurel Quinones (Twenty24) rounded out the honor podium.
With a nine-second lead, Dygert won her second elite national time trial title.
First elite title for Brandon McNulty
In the men's race, neither the two-time defending champ Lawson Craddock (Bike Exchange-Jayco) nor last year's second-place finisher Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers) were present, opening up the race to a new winner for the first time since 2020.
WorldTour riders Will Barta (Movistar) and Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) were certainly among the pre-race favorites but stiff competition was expected from the domestic elites, including Zach Gregg, Stephen Vogel and Tyler Stites all from Project Echelon.
Rain continued to make for less-than-ideal conditions as the men's race, split into four waves, got underway.
U23 rider Evan Boyle (Aevelo) claimed the hot seat early with a time of 43:16, but Barta, the last rider of the third wave, would unseat him with a 42:11. Stopping the clock at 42:39, Joey Rosskopf (Q36) also bested Boyle's time, slotting into second and moving Boyle down into third place. The last rider to come down the starting ramp was McNulty.
McNulty had won the time trial honors three times in his U23 and Junior career but had yet to podium as an elite. Fresh off his Giro stage win, McNulty looked to be in great form and set a blistering pace. At the first intermediate checkpoint, the 25-year-old had a 32-second lead over Barta, which grew to 57 seconds at the second checkpoint. McNulty continued to up the pace and sailed through the finish line with a time of 40:39, a full 1 minute and 32 seconds fasters than his closest competitor, Barta.
Rosskopf finished in third and while he missed the elite podium, Boyle will walk away with the U23 title.
The USA Cycling National Pro Road Championships continue on Friday at 6:15 p.m. EDT with the women's and men's elite criterium. The road races take place on Sunday, starting at 9 a.m. EDT for the women; 1:15 p.m. for the men.
Live streaming of the criterium and road races can be found on FloBikes.
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1