The USA Cycling U23 national road race championship was a race of attrition. With the sun beating down and the black asphalt reflecting the heat back into the riders the winner of this 168 kilometer race was going to be well deserved.
The course was a rolling, 24 kilometer loop that featured an elevation gain of 1421 per lap for a total of almost 10,000 feet. This, combined with the heat of the day, would select a worthy winner.
Each time the peloton rolled through the start/ finish area there were noticeably less riders in the front group. With five laps remaining a group of 19 were off the front.
With three laps remaining Chipotle fired the first serious shot sending Rob Bush solo up the road. This allowed his teammates to sit back and let the other squads chase. He gained a minute lead before he was brought back due to a mechanical issue at the start of the third lap. Once Bush was no longer off the front the counter attacks started to shred the remaining group of riders.
Just before the start of the final lap Jacob Rathe (Chipotle Development Team) and his teammate Rob Squire attacked and immediately got a gap on the fatigued peloton.
Behind the Trek-Livestrong riders tried to rally a chase, but the Chipotle duo, getting advice from team director Chann McRae, buried themselves in the hot Augusta sun. It was now or never.
As reports came through that the two Chipotle riders weren’t going to get caught there was speculation on how the champion would be decided – would they sprint or had a winner been chosen? As they rounded the final turn, with about 400 meters to the finish line, it became apparent who the national champion was going to be.
Both riders had their arms in the air in salute but it was Squire that crossed the line first with teammate Rathe behind.
“I knew I had the legs today and I told my teammates, ‘I got it today’,” said a very happy Squire.
“I knew that when we were together (with teammate Rathe) it was game over for everyone as we were going to rock it!”
Squire explains how the two determined who was going to take the national champion’s jersey.
“I’ve helped Jacob in the past at Paris-Roubaix and I was doing a majority of the work as he was cramping up, so he let me have this one.”
McRae explained how the riders stayed as fresh as they could considering the weather conditions.
“Cooling was very important: ice socks, always two bottles in the musettes and water, not only just electrolytes.”
The junior women 17-18 rode 72 kilometers and two familiar names led the pack into the final lap. Friday’s criterium champion, Ryan, and Thursday’s time trial winner, Grace Alexander (Boise, Idaho/BYRDS), were waiting to see who would make the first move. Alexander attacked first and Ryan sat on her wheel. Ryan waited for the right moment to come around Alexander and drill it into the wind and push it into finish.
“It feels so good. I almost started tearing up on the podium,” Ryan said. “This is the race I wanted to win. This is my crown jewel, I guess you could say. In order to go to Denmark for the worlds, I had to win this one because I got fifth in the time trial so this was it. I was looking to win.”
The first group of juniors was the men 15-16, who made three laps of the course, totaling 72 kilometers. The winner, Silverberg, spent portions of time in different positions within the peloton before pulling away for a solo win. Approximately midway through the race, Silverberg attacked a breakaway that was a minute ahead. The peloton caught him with 14 miles remaining. Silverberg’s teammate, Casey Braga (Longwood, Fla./ZMotion) pulled him to the front of the peloton after Silverberg dropped in the climb. Silverberg, who has been racing for less than two years, attacked with another rider and the two of them played cat and mouse before Silverberg pulled away down the stretch. Stephen Bassett (Knoxville, Tenn./Prochain Cycling) won a bunch sprint to earn the silver medal ahead of Brandon Pruett (Silver Creek, Ga.).
“I just said to myself, ‘It’s all or nothing,’ Silverberg said. “There are some great sprinters out here. I knew this was my only chance. My biggest thanks is to my teammate, Casey. I’m just really happy about it.”
The para-cyclists opened the day of road races and the winners were: Matthew Bigos (Men’s C1), Brett Weitzel (Men’s C2), Allison Jones (Women’s C2), Matthew Long (Men’s C3), Jonathan Copsey (Men’s C4), Patricia Collins (Women’s C4), Mark Gyulafia (Men’s C5), Kelly Crowley (Women’s C5), Anthony Pedeferri (Men’s H1), Matthew Updike (Men’s H2), Marianna Davis (Women’s H2), Brian Mitchell (Men’s H3), Monica Bascio (Women’s H3), Dane Pilon (Men’s H4), Steven Peace (Men’s T2), the tandem of Clark Rachfal and David Swanson (Men’s BVI) and the team of Kara Vattnauer and Mackenzie Wooring (Women’s BVI).
U23 Men – 168 kilometers
1. Rob Squire (Sandy, Utah./Chipotle Development Team) 4:07:19
2. Jacob Rathe (Portland, Ore./Chipotle Development Team) 4:07:19
3. Evan Huffman (Elk Grove, Calif./California Giant Berry Farms-Specialized) 4:10:03
4. Danny Summerhill (Centennial, Colo./Chipotle Development Team) 4:20:28
5. Joey Rosskopf (Decatur, Ga./Team Type 1) 4:10:28
Junior Women 17-18 – 72 kilometers
1. Alexis Ryan (Ventura, Calif./Team TIBCO II) 2:16:49
2. Emily Shields (Salisbury, N.C./Carolina Masters-Painpathways Cycling) 2:16:50
3. Katherine Shields (Salisbury, N.C./Carolina Masters-Painpathways Cycling) 2:16:50
4. Grace Alexander (Boise, Idaho/BYRDS) 2:16:50
5. Annika Johannesen (Bend, Ore.) 2:16:51
Junior Men 15-16 – 72 kilometers
1. Jake Silverberg (Pembroke, Fla./ZMotion) 1:52:41
2. Stephen Bassett (Knoxville, Tenn./Prochain Cycling) 1:53:14
3. Brandon Pruett (Silver Creek, Ga.) 1:53:15
4. Logan Owen (Bremerton, Wash./Chipotle Junior Development Team) 1:53:17
5. Michael Dessau (Boulder, Colo./Chipotle Junior Development Team) 1:53:17
Men – C1 – 48 kilometers
1. Matthew Bigos (Cardiff by the Sea, Calif.) 1:34:33
Men – C2 – 48 kilometers
1. Brett Weitzel (Salt Lake City, Utah) 1:34:48
Women – C2 – 48 kilometers
1. Allison Jones (Colorado Springs, Colo.) 1:38:28
Men – C3 – 48 kilometers
1. Matthew Long (New York, N.Y.) 1:40:53
Men – C4 – 48 kilometers
1. Jonathan Copsey (Nipomo, Calif.) 1:21:03
Women – C4 – 48 kilometers
1. Patricia Collins (Harker Heights, Texas) 1:40:53
Men – C5 – 48 kilometers
1. Mark Gyulafia (Portland, Ore.) 1:21:00
Women – C5 – 48 kilometers
1. Kelly Crowley (Redwood City, Calif.) 1:21:10
Men – H1 – 24 kilometers
1. Anthony Pedeferri (Camarillo, Calif.) 1:12:16
Men – H2 – 48 kilometers
1. Matthew Updike (Denver, Colo.) 1:37:15
Women – H2 – 24 kilometers
1. Marianna Davis (Salt Lake City, Utah) 56:24
Men – H3 – 48 kilometers
1. Brian Mitchell (Lees Summit, Mo.) 1:44:17
Women – H3 – 24 kilometers
1. Monica Bascio (Evergreen, Colo.) 56:28
Men – H4 – 48 kilometers
1. Dane Pilon (Fayetteville, N.C.) 1:35:11
Men – T2 – kilometers
1. Steven Peace (San Diego, Calif.) 55:15
Men – BVI- 72 kilometers
1. Clark Rachfal (Annapolis, Md.) and David Swanson (Tucson, Ariz.) 1:49:13
Women – BVI – 48 kilometers
1. Kara Vatthauer (Tucson, Ariz.) and Mackenzie Woodring (Belmont, Mich.) 1:23:06
Junior women report courtesy of USA Cycling