Rally Cycling claimed silver and bronze medals in the US National Road Race Championships, delivering Robin Carpenter and Emma White to the podium in Knoxville. The double medals marked the end of a highly successful campaign at both US and Canadian nationals, where the team took home 22 total medals for the men and women.
Rally Cycling’s Robin Carpenter entered the race on Sunday in Knoxville, TN looking to improve on his fourth place from a year ago. He did exactly that, forcing a mid-race breakaway and earning a hard-fought second place.
Emma White sprinted to third in the elite women’s race to become the first rider in American history to win all three Under 23 disciplines in the same year – time trial, criterium, and road race.
Carpenter attacks for silver
The men raced 15 laps of a 13 km circuit in eastern Tennessee for a staggering total of 191 km. With the race being a national championship event restricted to Americans, many professional teams were missing riders. This made the race unpredictable because fewer teams had the horsepower to chase back dangerous breakaways.
Starting in downtown Knoxville, the riders set out under sweltering conditions and were immediately greeted by a one kilometer, ten percent grind up Sherrod Rd. Groups of riders were dropped every time up as the peloton had a difficult time staying intact.
Robin Carpenter was one the protected riders for the team and when Emerson Oronte and Kyle Murphy’s dangerous breakaway was reeled in on the sixth lap, he attacked with three other riders.
“Our move went away and it stayed away because it had representation from the bigger, stronger teams and there was no one left to chase besides the desperate solo riders,” said Carpenter.
“The team raced really well,” he added. “We had Emerson and Kyle in the main break which was a big part of the plan and let me save my legs early in the race and not stress.”
On the penultimate lap, Jonathan Brown (Hagens Berman Axeon) surprised the breakaway with an attack and quickly gained a one minute gap that proved too much for the remaining three.
Carpenter set off in pursuit of the solo leader but came up just short of the elusive US road title.
For Carpenter, who has won stages of the Tour of Utah and Colorado’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge, the silver medal was bittersweet.
“It definitely feels good to finish on the podium but it’s still a disappointment,” said Carpenter. “That’s classic silver medal psychology but in the end, I feel like I both underestimated and overestimated some of my fellow riders in the break which led to my untimely chase and second place. I thought the team rode great and I think it’s still a success. Nationals is extremely unpredictable and difficult to deliver a prepared plan.”
Carpenter’s disappointment was an all too familiar feeling for a men’s team that has come close but never tasted victory at road nationals – Andy Bajadali was runner-up to George Hincapie in 2009 and Alex Candelario finished second behind former teammate Ben King in 2010. The team’s third silver medal will only fuel its fire to bring hope stars and stripes on the road in 2019.
Team sets White up to sprint against world’s best
The women raced nine laps of the Knoxville circuit for a total of 115 km and instead of taking a few laps to feel each other out, former three-time USA road champion Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans) launched a blistering attack up the day’s first climb.
Neo-pro Heidi Franz jumped across as the peloton went into panic mode and eventually chased down the surprise early move that contained four of the top teams. On the second lap, Guarnier tried again and again she pulled a group of favorites off the front.
On the fourth lap, Heidi Franz followed Margot Clyne’s (Twenty20-Sho Air) attack through the feed zone and the pair gained an advantage of 1:45 over the field. Three laps later Franz would drop her breakaway companion only to be joined by two more riders.
“Having Heidi up the road really took the pressure off of Kelly Catlin and me,” said Emma White. “It put us in a good position during the race.”
As the breakaway’s advantage dropped to below 30 seconds heading into the final lap, back in the peloton, Abby Mickey and Summer Moak were setting up Emma White and Kelly Catlin for the climb up Sherrod Rd.
It looked like the peloton was about to catch the breakaway when Franz kicked clear and went on a solo quest for the national title.
“I hammered the descent to stay clear and keep the pressure on the field,” said Franz. “I knew I had teammates back there and we were going with Emma for the win and that kept me pushing.”
With riders from the top teams chasing Franz, she was reeled in with less than five kilometers remaining.
“After the group caught Heidi, we went to our plan and had Kelly take control of the front at one kilometer to go,” said White.
The Rally Cycling duo hit the final rise with one corner to go when Guarnier attacked with 71-time national age group champion Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) on her wheel.
White was able to respond but couldn’t come past two of the top riders in the Women’s WorldTour in Rivera and Guarnier.
“This result and this week are really special for me,” said White. “Two elite podiums and three top fives. Every single person on the team turned themselves inside out for this which is all we can ask for.”
The race wrapped up arguably the most successful championship weekend in the program’s history – all told, the team won four Canadian titles, four American titles, seven silver, and seven bronze medals.
Men’s USA Road Championships Results
1 Jonathan Brown (USA) Hagens Berman Axeon 4:41:11
2 Robin Carpenter (USA) Rally Cycling 0:00:45
3 Jacob Rathe (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 0:01:17
4 Gavin Mannion (USA) UnitedHealthcare 0:01:21
5 Benjamin King (USA) Team Dimension Data 0:02:41
6 Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo
7 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:02:42
8 Lawrence Warbasse (USA) Aqua Blue Sport 0:02:44
9 Thomas Revard (USA) Hagens Berman Axeon 0:02:48
10 Brandon Mcnulty (USA) Rally Cycling 0:03:24
Women’s USA Road Championships Results
1 Coryn Rivera (USA) Team SunWeb 3:17:30
2 Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team
3 Emma White (USA) Rally Cycling 0:00:01
4 Alexis Ryan (USA) Canyon SRAM Racing 0:00:03
5 Lily Williams (USA) Hagens Berman-Supermint 0:00:04
6 Tayler Wiles (USA) Trek – Drops 0:00:05
7 Leah Thomas (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
8 Leigh Ann Ganzar (USA) Wolfpack p/b Hyperthreads 0:00:06
9 Amber Neben (USA) PX4 Sports 0:00:13
10 Ruth Winder (USA) Team SunWeb 0:00:18
11 Kelly Catlin (USA) Rally Cycling 0:00:29
12 Katharine Hall (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling 0:00:33
13 Margot Clyne (USA) Twenty20 p/b Sho-Air 0:00:39
14 Jennifer Luebke (USA) Hagens Berman-Supermint 0:00:42
15 Heidi Franz (USA) Rally Cycling 0:01:09
Women’s USA Under 23 Road Championships Results
1 Emma White (USA) Rally Cycling
2 Janelle Cole (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
3 Skylar Schneider (USA) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team