The U.S. and Canadian Road National Championships are this weekend from June 21 – 24 in Knoxville, TN, and Saguenay, Quebec. Rally Cycling has seven national titles to defend and is determined to raise the bar yet again. For those fortunate enough to win a national title, they will earn the right to wear their country’s colors for an entire year.
“It’s a tall order but this team is capable of matching and even surpassing last year’s medal count,” said Performance Manager Jonas Carney. “This is the strongest team we have ever fielded at nationals and we expect to be very competitive.”
White, McNulty Lead Charge for Stars and Stripes
The weekend of festivities in Knoxville begins on Thursday with the time trial. Rally Cycling brings defending U23 time trial champions Brandon McNulty and Emma White to tackle multiple laps of an eleven km course along Melton Hill Reservoir. McNulty will forego the U23 time trial in favor of the elite category, where he will join time trial powerhouse Evan Huffman in the quest to bring home a national title.
After a tire puncture damaged his chances for a top result during the Amgen Tour of California’s time trial, McNulty shifted his focus to the U.S. Championships.
“I’m always trying to push myself and competing in the elite category has been on my list of targets all season,” said McNulty. “I’m capable of finishing on the podium but I try not to put too much pressure on myself. I’m focused and my prep has been pretty dialed.”
Friday’s criterium in downtown Knoxville takes the riders past the Tennessee River on a flat two km circuit. Sprinters Eric Young and Brad Huff have four national titles between them and they’re joined by last year’s bronze medalist, Ty Magner. Women’s defending champion Erica Allar will not defend her title due to fracturing four ribs in last week’s Tulsa Tough Omnium. Allar’s absence opens the door for newcomers Summer Moak and Heidi Franz to shine.
The crown jewel of championship racing comes on Sunday with a hilly, 15 lap road circuit on Sunday, with the women tackling nine laps on the same challenging course. The infamous Mimosa street climb greets the riders at the beginning of every lap and is often to deciding factor in the race’s finale.
Last year, Emma White won the U23 road race title en route to placing fifth in the elite women’s race. In the men’s race, Robin Carpenter and Colin Joyce will lead the team and look to improve on their top-five finishes from a year ago.
Team targets maple leaf on all fronts
Across the northern border, the team’s Canadian contingent will descend on lush Saguenay, Quebec to contest the road, criterium and time trial titles.
Rally Cycling brings defending U23 time trial champion Sara Poidevin and men’s silver and bronze medalists Nigel Ellsay and Rob Britton for Canada’s time trial on Thursday. The men race 37 km on an out-and-back course that gradually climbs to the turnaround in Monts-Valin National Park. The women race 25 km on the same course.
Saturday’s road race sends the men on twelve laps around La Baie, Saguenay for a flat 15 km urban circuit. Matteo Dal-Cin is set to defend his road race title which he won from a small breakaway last summer.
The women’s team will lean on last year’s runner-up, Kirsti Lay, as well as multi-time UCI podium finisher Sara Bergen. Defending champion Allison Beveridge is recovering from a broken humerus and will return to racing later this summer. The women will race eight laps and look to use their team strength to their advantage by putting as many riders in the front group as they can.
Sunday’s criterium course is just under two km in length and has an uphill finish that suits Ryan Anderson to a tee. For the women, Lay and Bergen are once again race favorites.
U.S. Road Cycling Championships Roster
Brad Huff (former two-time criterium champion)
Brandon McNulty (defending U23 time trial champion)
Eric Young (former two-time criterium champion)
Emma White (defending U23 road and time trial champion)
Canadian Road Cycling Championships Roster
Rob Britton (bronze in 2017 time trial)
Matteo Dal-Cin (defending road champion)
Adam de Vos
Nigel Ellsay (silver in 2017 time trial)
Kirsti Lay (silver in 2017 road race)
Katherine Maine (bronze in 2017 U23 road race)
Sara Poidevin (defending U23 time trial champion)
Erica Allar (ribs, defending U.S. criterium champion)
Jesse Anthony (epstein barr virus)
Allison Beveridge (humerus, defending CAN road champion)