This Memorial Day weekend marks the 2013 US National Professional Cycling Championships, which comes to Chattanooga, Tennessee for the first time in its 28 year history. It is the first time both the men and women will be racing concurrently for the USPRO stars and stripes, in both the time trial and road race disciplines.
The men’s team comes off a highly successful Amgen Tour of California, where Chad Haga captured 10th overall against some of the top riders in the world and the squad finished top-8 in 6 stages including a 2nd place on Stage 4 by Ken Hanson. Jade Wilcoxson finished 4th in the Tour of California Women’s TT while the rest of the women’s squad split duties in Canada as well, grabbing multiple podiums at the UCI 1.1 ranked GP Gatineau and Chrono Gatineau. Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies come to Chattanooga with high hopes to add another national championship to their ranks.
The women’s push for a championship will be led by Wilcoxson, who finished 2nd in the 2012 NRC rankings, and Janel Holcomb, the 2011 NRC Champion and recent stage winner and 3rd overall at the Tour of the Gila. Sprinter Lauren Hall should be an ace-in-the-hole in case of a field sprint having led out teammate Joelle Numainville at Gatineua and still coming home in 4th on the day. Newcomer Brianna Walle continues to impress as well in her debut pro season. Rounding out the roster to contest the stars and stripes will be Amber Gaffney and Grace Alexander.
“I’m excited that we’re bringing a really strong squad, and we’ll be gunning for a result in both the road race and the time trial,” said women’s Performance Director Rachel Heal. “Jade and Brie both put in a great showing against a quality field in the Tour of California TT, and Janel and Lauren were great in Gatineau, and I’m certain they are all ready for the race of truth.”
Heal is also confident with the team’s chances in the road race.
“As far as the road race goes, great teamwork has been our trademark all year, and we have real strength and depth in the team we have here,” she added. “We’re looking forward to the challenges that the varied course and the other teams will throw at us this weekend.”
With an eleven-man roster for the 161.9 km road race, the men’s team will launch a multi-faceted attack on the road.
“Chad is on great form after California, so we are excited to see him tackle a tough course in Chattanooga,” said Performance Director Jonas Carney. “We have an array of athletes who could be effective on this course: Ken Hanson and Alex Candelario could be great in a bunch sprint, and adding Eric Young into the mix means we have some of the best sprinters in the US at this event. With riders like Michael Friedman, Mike Creed, Scott Zwizanski and Jesse Anthony able to get in any break, we are going to throw everything at this race and maximize our chances at a win.”
In the time trial, the men bring another potent attack, with Tom Zirbel, Scott Zwizanski and Haga all lined up to race against the clock. With reigning national champion David Zabriskie out with a broken collar bone, and another of America’s top TT men, Taylor Phinney, racing in the Giro d’ Italia, the time trial will be a wide open race for the top step. Perennial favorite Tom Zirbel will be the marked man as always this year having recently won a blustery TT at the UCI 2.2 Tour of the Gila. Haga, who finished 20th against a stacked field in California and also claimed victory in the NRC opening time trial at the Redlands Classic, will be another serious threat.
Michael Creed – RR
Ken Hanson – RR
Tom Soladay – RR
Mike Friedman – RR
Jesse Anthony – RR
Alex Candelario – RR
Eric Young – RR
Mike Sherer – RR
Chad Haga – RR, TT
Tom Zirbel – RR, TT
Scott Zwizanski – RR, TT
Amber Gaffney – RR, TT
Brianna Walle – RR, TT
Grace Alexander – RR
Jade Wilcoxson – RR, TT
Janel Holcomb – RR, TT
Lauren Hall – RR, TT