David Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervelo) made a triumphant return to Greenville taking the win in the US Professional time trial, his sixth national championship in that discipline. Another rider making his return to not only Greenville, but to the professional peloton as well, was Tom Zirbel (Jamis/Sutter Home). Rounding out the podium in third was RadioShack’s Matt Busche, showing why he is tipped as the next big American rider.
The heavy favorite BMC’s Taylor Phinney, perhaps still feeling the affects of a fever from a few days ago, could only muster a seventh place.
Forty-one riders were listed to start at the Clemson-ICAR campus but when it came time to roll down the ramp, 34 took to the course in pursuit of a national championship jersey.
The increase in rider participation in the time trial was due to the fact that it was no longer back to back with the road race. There is now a rest day between the two events. Due to the increase the racers were separated into three different waves, with the top favorites positioned in the last group.
The first group was racing under milder conditions as there was a slight overcast keeping the mercury at bay. However, as more racers rolled down the starting ramp the temperature started to climb. Would the increase in temperature affect the top contenders?
Of the first wave of riders Chase Pinkham (Bissell) stopped the clock at 42’21” – a good time but off from last year’s. Also in the first wave was Greenville’s own neo-pro and teammate to Pinkham, Andy Baker. The national collegiate road race champion finished with a 43’36”.
The second wave was going to produce some finishing times for the favorites to aim at. One such time was set by Tom Zirbel. He held the fastest time at 40’54”. However, the big guns in the third wave were warming up in the shade of the ICAR buildings.
David Zabriskie was the picture of concentration on his LeMond trainer. With earphones pumping tunes and facing the brick wall, the 2009 time trial champion worked his way through a synchronized warm-up alternating between in the saddle high cadence to out of the saddle sprints. Nothing seemed to break his focus. The team soigneur came over to Zabriskie to swap out wet towels that were draped across his back in order to keep his body temperature down – a trick from when Dr Lim was the team doctor.
With time approaching his 1:09 PM start, a disk wheel was added to Zabriskie’s Cervelo. In the starting area there was tension. Zirbel had shown that he had returned to his former self with a strong time. Phinney had the honor as defending champion to start last and knew the times he had to beat. Standing in front of him was Zabriskie, who had won the Solvang time trial in the Amgen Tour of California the week before. Phinney didn’t have a strong ride in that quaint California town, but many thought that was due to fatigue from several stages under his belt. Had he now recovered? He had tweeted the day prior that he had been suffering from a fever and a horrible travel day, just arriving in Greenville. In contrast the previous year he had spent the week before the championships in the Upstate staying in, his soon to be BMC teammate, George Hincapie’s house.
With Phinney, Zabriskie, and Busche on the course it was evident that the Garmin rider was having a good day. DZ tore up the first lap, setting an unofficial record for the fastest first lap with a time of 13:10.84. He was fastest again on the second lap. Finally in the last lap he had passed six of his competitors and sliced across the finish line with a time of 40’23”. Zirbel was 31 seconds slower and Busche another 28 seconds behind him.
In the post race press conference second place finisher Zirbel said that today was an emotional day for him, returning to the peloton after serving a year and a half suspension for accidentally ingesting a banned substance.
“I didn’t know what to expect from myself,” said Zirbel. He’s had a rough Tour of California and without racing in the legs his results could have gone either way.
Zirbel went on to say that he now has an appreciation of what he has and realizes, “it can all be snatched away.” However at the end of the day the Jamis rider was happy with second place.
David Zabriskie, zipped up in his stars and stripes jersey, said for him the time trial boils down to giving it everything he has.
“I wanted to destroy myself. I had to give it full gas.”
Now with the national championship jersey on his back Zabriskie is hopping onto a plane for Europe, skipping Monday’s road race championships. In years past DZ had lit up the early laps of the road race quickly shredding the peloton. And with his withdrawal from the road race, there will be zero representation from the Argyle Army.
The championships continue Monday with the road race. There will be live streaming video and live chat at the US Pro website. You can follow all the action live, no matter where you are, by logging onto the live chat that Carolina Cycling News is providing for the US Pro.
Complete results here.
Watch individual playlist videos here: Cheering for racers, Post-TT w/ Zirbel, TT Podium