Blockbuster field registered for GHS USA Cycling Pro Championships

  
  


Hometown hero George Hincapie will once again be amongst the nation's best competing in Greenville.
Hometown hero George Hincapie will once again be amongst the nation's best competing in Greenville.

Organizers of the Greenville Hospital System USA Cycling Professional Championships confirmed today that the prominent names of American pro cycling will be among the star-studded fields for the Memorial Day weekend USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships. 2010 USA Cycling Pro Road Race Champion Ben King (Team RadioShack) and 2010 USA Cycling Pro Time Trial Champion Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) will return to defend their titles. Among the challengers will be four-time USA Cycling Time Trial national champion Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervélo) and three-time USA Cycling Pro Road Race national champion George Hincapie (BMC Racing).

Other notable athletes with an eye on a new or first-time national title are: reigning USA Cycling Pro Criterium national champion Daniel Holloway (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth), two-time third place finisher at the USA Cycling Pro Time Trial championship Danny Pate (HTC-Highroad), two-time USA Cycling Elite Time Trial champion Chris Baldwin (Bissell Pro Cycing) and 2010 U23 national road race champion Tejay VanGarderen (HTC-Highroad).

An unprecedented field of 41 professional riders has registered for the Individual Time Trial Championship and 104 pro riders have registered for the Road Race Championship. The USA Cycling Professional Championships return to Greenville for the sixth consecutive year with a new spring engagement in just two weeks, May 28-30, 2011. This move to Memorial Day weekend better aligns the championships with the international racing calendar, and positions this event to have a stronger and more competitive field of athletes.

America’s best will be featured with the USA Cycling Professional Individual Time Trial Championship presented by Duke Energy on Saturday, and the USA Cycling Professional Road Race Championship presented by TD Bank on Monday (Memorial Day). The Stars-and-Stripes jersey will have special meaning for the champion in each event, who earns to right to wear the coveted designation as National Champion over the next year at other races around the globe.

“2011 is shaping up to have the strongest and deepest field Greenville has ever seen for this event,” said USA Cycling Chief Executive Officer Steve Johnson. “For the first time, most of America’s top talent is expected in to be in attendance representing many of the top international teams such as HTC-Highroad, Garmin-Cervélo, BMC and RadioShack, which should make tactics a stronger factor in the road race.”

Teams like BMC Racing and Team Type 1 will bring four or more riders each. The top ranked team in USA Cycling’s NRC standings (through May 9), RealCyclist.com Pro Cycling, will bring nine riders to the championships. Bissell Pro Cycling, the No. 2 overall team, will have 10 athletes in Greenville. Other top NRC teams with full squads include Team Exergy with eight riders, Jelly Belly Team presented by Kenda with 10 riders, and both Kenda 5 Hour Energy presented by Geargrinder and Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth with 12 riders each.

This year’s event will feature high-speed specialist Zabriskie from the Garmin-Cervélo team. Zabriskie, from Salt Lake City, Utah, won four consecutive national titles in the race against the clock from 2006-2009. He will be back after missing last year’s championship due to team commitments at the Vuelta a Espana.

Bissell’s loaded team includes three of the top five riders on the NRC individual standings this year, Ben Jacques-Maynes, from Watsonville, Calif., Chris Baldwin, from Boulder, Colo., and Frank Pipp, from Boulder, Colo. Jacques-Maynes, whose brother Andy will also compete, won the general classification at this spring’s Merco Cycling Classic. Pipp captured the G.C. at last week’s Joe Martin Stage Race and Baldwin, a two-time USA Cycling Elite Time Trial national champion, was third overall at this year’s Redlands Bicycle Classic.

Three of the local favorites ride for BMC Racing. A long-time Greenville, S.C. resident, Hincapie is the team leader for BMC Racing.  In addition to winning the Stars-and-Stripes jersey three times, he has represented the United States in road cycling at the Olympic Games five times and ridden the Tour de France 15 times. His teammate, Bookwalter, is a resident in nearby Athens, Ga. and has won seven national titles while representing the Lees-McRae College cycling team from 2003-2006. He won the Prologue at the 2009 Tour of Utah and was second in a time trial stage of the 2010 Giro d’Italia.

BMC’s Chris Butler, who attended Furman University, is currently racing at the Giro d’Italia. While attending Furman University, he won the road race and team time trial championships at the 2008 USA Cycling Division II collegiate nationals. “The last pitch at the top (of Paris Mountain) is steep, which is cool just because that’s where all the fans hang out. And you’re going slow enough where they can yell and throw water on you. It has that cool Euro feeling, or sensation, at the top of the crest. Greenville is an amazing cycling community,” noted Butler, who resides on Hilton Head Island, S.C. and will race a second time in Greenville.

The new RealCyclist.com Pro Cycling Team has several riders to watch, including four riders who live in Georgia. Frank Travieso and Yosvany Falcon, who live outside Athens, Ga., were both born in Cuba and are now U.S. citizens. Travieso won last weekend’s Dillworth Criterium in N.C.

The final fields for both the individual time trial and the road race will be posted on the event website on race weekend, along with route maps and race details. Professionals will compete for $27,000 in prize money, and more importantly, the right to wear prestigious Stars-and-Stripes jerseys for the 2011 season. The events are sanctioned by USA Cycling, the governing body for the sport of cycling in the United States, and managed by Medalist Sports.

“The fact that Greenville was asked to continue hosting the championships for 2011 and 2012 says a lot about the outstanding support and leadership from the public-private community here in the Upstate. Significant changes to the overall format have been made and cycling fans are going to be rewarded with outstanding competition this Memorial Day,” said Chris Aronhalt, managing partner of Medalist Sports, which is the sports management company which has produced the event since 2006, when the championships moved from Philadelphia, Pa. to Greenville.

View the full list of registered riders on the event’s official information page. Fans are also encouraged to visit www.usacyclingchampionships.com to stay up-to-date on race news and events and can also follow the event on Facebook at www.facebook.com/usacyclingchampionships and Twitter at twitter.com/USAProCycling.



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