US Pro Championships Preview

With the US Pro Championships starting in just two days, cycling fans need to make final preparations. Whether you are going to be in Greenville, South Carolina to watch in person or keeping up from a distance, we’ve got tips for keeping up with the action. But first a few adjustments have needed to be made to the start list in both the time trial and road race.

The defending national time trial champion BMC’s Taylor Phinney is returning to see if he can continue to hold onto the stars and stripes jersey. The young rider had a lack-luster performance in the Solvang time trial at the Amgen Tour of California. However, that was after several days of hard racing. Phinney will be fresh and ready on Saturday. Another BMC rider who could light-up the ICAR course is Brent Bookwalter. As a resident of Athens, Georgia he knows what it’s like to race in the heat and has shown he can compete well in the race against the clock. The 2010 second place finisher Levi Leipheimer has opted not to return citing fatigue from the Amgen Tour of California as the reason. However, David Zabriskie is returning. The Garmin-Cervelo rider was the 2009 time trial national champion, but skipped the 2010 championships. His recent win at the Solvang time trial shows he has some real form. Also returning for the first time since 2009 is Tom Zirbel. While a strong time trialist, he has only just returned to racing after a shortened suspension for a doping infraction. While he has the potential to win, does he have the racing in the legs to stand on the top of the podium?

The road race is a little more difficult to pick a five-star winner. Who would have guessed that Ben King’s day long break last year would last? Be assured, the peloton is well aware of King’s potential and will not let that happen again.

Naturally, a favorite for the road race has to be BMC’s George Hincapie. The Greenville resident knows the crucial sections of the course like the back of his hand. To support him BMC is bringing a strong contingent of riders, any of them could take the win as well. Jeff Louder of BMC was third in the 2009 road championships and if he’s recovered from competing in California could be part of a two-pronged attack.

Strangely the only Garmin-Cervelo rider on the official start list for the road race is David Zabriskie. Christian Vande Velde and Tom Danielson, who both had strong rides at the Amgen Tour of California, are absent. In a message to Carolina Cycling News, Danielson says that he’s preparing for the Tour de France as his reason for skiping the national championships. However the Chipotle development squad, the feeder team to the Garmin-Cervelo, is in full attendance.

Another rider who showed great form in California was Chris Horner. As previously reported, family and sponsor commitments have scuttled his Greenville plans.

One squad that is just below the radar is the Kelly-Benefits team. They are bringing Mike Creed, Mike Friedman, Jason Donald and Alex Candelario. I’d be really surprised if one of their riders didn’t podium this weekend.

A spoiler could be Liquigas-Cannondale’s Ted King. He and his teammate Tim Duggan are coming off from the Tour of California and both know the course. If either of them could get into the right break they could easily take the win.

Where to watch the road race

Paris Mountain is the most prominent feature of the race. At 2.2 miles in length, this is where the wheat separates from the chaff and an excellent location to watch the race. The last 200 meters of Paris Mountain kicks up to a gradient of 15% and this is where the majority of the crowds will be perched. Along the whole Paris Mountain section, fans are throwing house parties. The word on the street is that the house near the bottom of the climb is including a DJ this year. One word of advice; if you’re going to poach someone’s party at least bring beverages for all to share.

Another excellent location is in downtown Greenville. The riders will do several closing laps before the finish and there will be the expo to check out during lulls in the action.

Of course you can always log onto the official US Pro chat being produced by us at Carolina Cycling News. I’ll be in the lead car sending updates as well as answering your questions. We’ll also have talented field reporters giving reaction from our downtown location at Pedal Chic – including Chad Andrews of Total Cyclist, a race commentator who has been featuring live streaming for his races.

Throughout the US Pro weekend, you can follow the race action and connect with other cyling fans on Twitter. Be sure to add the hashtag #uspro when you tweet so posts about US Pro can be followed by other fans and featured on the US Pro website.

Official US Pro – @USAProCycling
Carolina Cycling News – @CarolinaCycling and @The_Leadout
Infamous Cycling Fans – @DivasTourFrance

Sign-up below to get an email reminder for the road race live chat which will be live at on Monday along with the live streaming video of the race.

2011 USA Cycling Pro Championships


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