Small, Zirbel earn their first pro time trial national titles

  
  


Colorado Springs, Colo. (May 25, 2013) – USA Cycling crowned two new national champions on Saturday at the Volkswagen Chattanooga Plant as the 2013 Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road & Time Trial National Championships began with professional men and women contesting time trials. Tom Zirbel (Boulder, Colo./Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Carmen Small (Durango, Colo./Specialized-lululemon) won the men's and women's time trials to earn the Stars-and-Stripes jersey.

The event, which was broadcast live via Tour Tracker, featured the professional women racing on the same weekend on the same course as the professional men for the first time in the event's 29-year history.

Small topped the 42-rider field with a time of 42:37.70 to earn her first ever USA Cycling national championship. Kristin McGrath (Boise, Idaho/Exergy TWENTY16) completed the 19-mile course just over one second slower than Small to earn second place. The leader of the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar (NRC) women's standings, Alison Powers (Pinecliffe, Colo./NOW and Novartis for MS) placed third, 12.42 seconds behind Small.

"In the past three years, I've been on the podium at every nationals for the time trial," said Small. "It's been a progression because when I first started I wasn't necessarily that great. I was just okay; top ten. I've worked really hard to get where I am. That feels good. I've had to step up, make changes and work hard."

Pro Men

Tom Zirbel won the men's time trial with a time of 38:16.04
Tom Zirbel won the men's time trial with a time of 38:16.04. (Photo by Casey Gibson)

After coming close to the national championship podium the last two years in the time trial, including a second place in 2011 and a fourth place last year, Tom Zirbel (Boulder, Colo./Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies) finally donned the Stars-and-Stripes jersey on Saturday. Starting second-to-last in the 19-mile race against the clock, Zirbel stopped the clock with the fastest time of 38:16.04, and then waited to see if the final rider, last year's bronze medalist Brent Bookwalter (Asheville, N.C./BMC Racing Team), could top it. When Bookwalter finished in 38:33.32, Zirbel had the coveted title.

"It's been on my list since 2006, my first year as a pro," said Zirbel. "I got close a lot of times and now I'm really excited to be able to wear the Stars-and-Stripes for a full year. This is definitely a career highlight. Getting this jersey pays off all the hard work from the team. It's their victory as well."

A former Chattanooga resident, Bookwalter was energized by the numerous family and friends lining the course to cheer him on.

"No matter what the event is or what the discipline, the national championships are special," Bookwalter commented. "I had more than a national championship-worthy spectator crew and cheering section. I was inspired by that and motivated."

Nathan Brown (Covington, Tenn./Bontrager Cycling Team), another rider from the region, nipped teammate Lawson Craddock (Austin, Texas/Bontrager Cycling Team) by just .77 to earn the bronze medal.

"It's bittersweet," said Brown of beating Craddock. "I love that guy and he's a great rider. I knew these two guys (Zirbel and Bookwalter) had set faster first splits so I was just holding on hoping one of them messed up, but they both had great rides. I'm just happy to be up there with them. Third place is an honor."

The time trial course contested by the men and women featured rolling terrain with few turns. Riders completed two out-and-back runs of 9.5 miles each for a total of 19 miles.

U.S. Handcycling Time Trial

Before the pro women's competition began, a U.S. Handcycling Series Time Trial event was staged on one lap of the same course.

David Randall (Mansfield, Ohio/Team Roger C. Peace) registered the best time among the handcyclists, posting a 26:47.53 to win the men's H2. Jason Griffin (Easley, S.C./Team Roger C. Peace) completed his lap in 25:22.52 to win the men's C45. Michael Postell (Snellville, Ga.) topped the men's H3 field with a time of 32:10.34. Dane Pilon (Raleigh, N.C./Cross Creek Cycling Club-C4) won the men's H4 contest with a time of 26:56.35. William Groulx (Portland, Ore./Paralyzed Veterans Racing) won the men's H1 with a time of 32:29.34. Megan McCauley (Charlotte, N.C.) won the women's H2 time trial with a time of 41:17.92.

Complete results are available online.

A Historic First for the USA Cycling Pro Road National Championships

Carmen Small was all smiles after collecting her Stars-and-Stripes jersey
Carmen Small was all smiles after collecting her Stars-and-Stripes jersey. (Photo by Casey B. Gibson)

When asked about the significance of having the women's pro races included in what was previously a men's-only event, Small commented, "It's a huge honor to do this alongside the men. They're professional and we're professional. It's hugely exciting. I don't think any of us has done a press conference before. That says a lot. We're at the top end of American women's cyclists. We're deserving of it. It's really exciting that this is coming about, that we're able to be here alongside the professional men."

"I feel honored," added Powers, "I've never done a press conference before. We get prize money. Finally! The last few weeks the big deal has been equality in women's cycling and here we are. This is really cool. Thank you to USA Cycling, Chattanooga and whoever else made this happen. It means a lot. I hope it just keeps progressing."

Zirbel and Bookwalter were quick to echo those sentiments.

"It just feels right, doesn't it?" said Zirbel about the women joining the men at this year's event. "They're some of the best athletes in the world."

"We're proud and excited to be with the women," added Bookwalter. "We're both fighting for the same title and the same medal."

Monday's Road Race

After a rest day on Sunday, the riders will vie for national championships in the road race on Monday, May 27. The road races will showcase downtown Chattanooga along with a tough climb up Lookout Mountain. The men’s and women’s races will begin with a 5.1-mile start circuit — one circuit for the women and three for the men. The same circuit will be used for the finish of each race. The course then takes the riders on a relatively flat run along Broad Street to begin the climb up Ochs Highway. The climb is approximately three miles and climbs 1,150 feet each lap. The race will top out at the summit of Lookout Mountain and descend on Scenic Highway to return to downtown via Broad Street.

Men will complete four laps up the climb, while the women will do two laps. The “long lap” is 16.1 miles in distance. The men and women will complete the start/finish circuits each lap of the “long lap” and will finish the race with three 5.1-mile circuits each. The course will cross the Market Street and Veterans Bridge each lap, and spectators will see the riders cross through the start/finish line 11 times during the men’s race and eight times during the women’s race.

The women's road race opens Monday's racing at 9 a.m., when they'll begin their 102-kilometer contest. The Erlanger USA Cycling Handcycling National Criterium Championship is slated to begin at 12:30 p.m. The 165-kilometer pro men's road race, which begins at 1:15 p.m., caps the event.

Along with live coverage of the men's and women's road races on Tour Tracker, Universal Sports will broadcast the final two hours of the men's road race live from 4-6 p.m. EDT on Monday. The broadcast will feature highlights of today's time trials and the women's road race. Craig Hummer, Robbie Ventura and Kristin Armstrong will handle the commentating duties.

In addition to Sunday's live broadcast, NBC Sports Network will produce a one-hour recap show scheduled to air at 1 p.m. EDT on Sunday, June 2. This will be a recap of the entire event, including interviews and highlights from the men’s and women’s time trials and road races.

Ancillary Events

On Monday, May 27, at 3 p.m., there will be the UnitedHealthcare Kids Race. Free and open to children aged 3-12, staging begins at the start/finish line of the road races at 2:30 p.m.

For updated news, course maps, a schedule of events, and more visit the 2013 Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road & Time Trial National Championships event page. You can also follow the event on Twitter using the hashtag #USPro for information on the races as well as ancillary events in Chattanooga.

2013 Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road & Time Trial National Championships
May 25-27, 2013
Chattanooga, Tenn.

FULL RESULTS | PHOTO GALLERY

Men's Time Trial
1. Tom Zirbel (Boulder, Colo./Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) 38:16.04
2. Brent Bookwalter (Asheville, N.C./BMC Racing Team) +17.28
3. Nate Brown (Covington, Tenn./Bontrager Cycling Team) +41.11

Women's Time Trial
1. Carmen Small (Durango, Colo./Specialized-lululemon) 42:37.70
2. Kristin McGrath (Boise, Idaho/Exergy TWENTY16) +01.25
3. Alison Powers (Pinecliffe, Colo./NOW and Novartis for MS) +12.42



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