Posted by Editoress on 06/17/04
US National Championships
Men's report courtesy Navigators
The U.S. National Time Trial Championships were held today near Redlands, CA, on a hilly, sun drenched, and breezy course of 48-Km (28-miles). The 24-km out-and-back course was covered twice, giving race fans the opportunity to see the riders a total of 3 times during the race, and gauge the riders' performance via the intermediate time splits.
The early leader was Kenny Williams finishing with a 1:05:57. As the top-seeded riders began to come through the first turn-around, Navigators Insurance's Phil Zajicek was only 9-seconds off the pace, showing good potential. The performances of the leaders was quickly eclipsed however when Dave Zabriskie (US Postal Service) made his turn 1:40 faster than any of the riders that had already completed their rides. Defending Champion; Navigators' Chris Baldwin, had the 2nd fastest split time behind Zabriskie, but at a deficit of :55. The fans waited anxiously as the last of the riders made their turns to complete the 2nd leg of the course.
Williams' time was continuing to hold as the number of favorites still out on the course dwindled. Zabriskie was the 5th-last to start, and when his finishing time of 103:11 was posted, it took the crowd by surprise. The clock was running as the last of the finishers came in, but it was all Zabriskie today as he finished a full 2:16 ahead of John Lieswyn (Health Net), while Williams' 105:57 was good enough for 3rd. For Navigators' Chris Baldwin, 4th place with a 106:01 was the best that he could manage.
Racing in Redlands continues on Saturday as the all-or-nothing Olympic selection road race is held on the demanding roads around the Inland Empire.
Women's report courtesy USA Cycling
Christine Thorburn (Davenport, Iowa), earned a nomination to the 2004 U.S. Olympic Cycling Team after winning the 2004 USCF Elite National Time Trial Championships on Thursday afternoon. The 34-year-old medical doctor clocked a time of 34:16.25 over a demanding 24km course to best a field stacked with talented competition on her way to her first-ever national title. The win resulted in an automatic nomination to the three-woman squad that will represent the U.S. later this summer in Athens.
Entering the race, a long list of heavy favorites readied for their shot at making the Olympic team including three-time defending national time trial champion, Kimberly Bruckner (Boulder, Colo.), 2000 Olympic silver medalist, Mari Holden (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Dede Barry (Boulder, Colo.), Amber Neben (Irvine, Calif.) and Kristin Armstrong (Boise, Idaho). Thorburn was faced with the daunting task of outperforming each and every one of her more decorated competitors who possessed the same Olympic dreams, and in classic David vs. Goliath fashion rose the occasion and overcame her underdog status.
"I wasn't really worried about anyone else." Thorburn said of her winning ride following the awards ceremony. "I just tried to do the best I could. It was a hard course with quite a bit of climbing yet not too technical which really suited me."
Starting midway through the field of 66 riders, all Thorburn could do after posting her time was wait and see if any of the pre-race favorites could crack her mark. Neben came the closest, coming within eight seconds of Thorburn, and the final two riders, Barry and Bruckner, were even further off the pace.
"I went so early in the rotation that I didn't know if I had a good time until some of the other girls started to finish, then I knew that I had a real chance," said Thorburn.
Thorburn cited the one minute start intervals between riders when she was on the course as an ally. "I thought I had a bit of an advantage starting with one minute intervals. I could see the riders ahead of me, so it gave me something to focus on rather than the pain."
Considered an outside shot at winning, Thorburn saw herself as a legitimate contender. "I told myself I could do it and that I was physiologically capable of winning. I think not having the added pressure of high expectations that some of the others may have had worked to my advantage."
Thorburn is in her second year of a post-doctorate fellowship in Rheumatology at Stanford University, but now turns her attention to Athens and the following two months of preparation leading up to the Olympic games.
Today's third place finisher, Barry, holds a strong chance of being nominated to the Olympic team as the highest-ranked American in the UCI standings. Under USA Cycling's Olympic Selection Procedures, the third criterion used in Olympic selection is international ranking as of July 5. Barry currently holds that distinction, ranked 13th in the world. "I have a strong ambition to ride the time trial in Athens," said Barry during her post-race interview. "I didn't feel any pressure out there since I've already qualified. I'm just looking forward to putting in the proper training and effort towards Athens."
A disappointed Bruckner simply didn't have her usual national championship form today. "I was feeling off all week," she said. "I was flying a few weeks ago, but just wasn't feeling good today."
Remaining Olympic hopefuls now turn their focus on Saturday's road race where a win will also result in an automatic nomination to the Olympic squad. And with all the pressure behind her, Thorburn can now relax as her spot on the team is secure. For the remainder of America's top women's cycling talent, a win on Saturday remains as their last chance.
Entering Saturday's road race, the favorites still include Neben, Armstrong, and Bruckner along with Katrina Grove (Solana Beach, Calif.) and Tina Pic (Dahlonega, Ga.). Several other riders will contend, but Thorburn is glad she doesn't have to focus too much on a win this weekend. "I liked my chances in the road race", she said. "It's a good course for me, but with the aggression of the T-Mobile team, it would have been difficult. I've been on the receiving end of their attacks. It's not fun."
Men: 28 miles/45 km
1. David Zabriskie, U.S. Postal-Berry Floor, 1:03:11
2. John Lieswyn, Health Net-Maxxis, 1:05:27
3. Kenny Williams, First Rate Mortgage, 1:05:57
4. Chris Baldwin, Navigators, 1:06:01
5. Adam Bergman, Jelly Belly-Aramark, 1:06:31
6. Chris Wherry, Health Net-Maxxis, 1:06:36
7. Jason McCartney, Health Net-Maxxis, 1:06:46
8. Ben Jacques-Maynes, Sierra Nevada, 1:07:10
9. Phil Zajicek, Navigators, 1:07:45
10. Antonio Cruz, U.S. Postal-Berry Floor, 1:07:45
WOMEN: 15 miles/24km
1. Christine Thorburn, Webcor, 34:16
2. Amber Neben, T-Mobile, 34:24
3. Dede Barry, T-Mobile, 34:26
4. Kristin Armstrong, T-Mobile, 34:37
5. Kimberly Bruckner, T-Mobile, 34:47
6. Mari Holden, T-Mobile, 35:12
7. Katrina Grove, Rona, 35:32
8. Candice Blickem, Genesis Scuba, 35:45
9. Heather Albert, Basis Aude, 36:04
10. Jessica Phillips, Nurnberger, 36:17
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