Teamwork delivers top-five finishes for U.S. at Road Worlds

  
  


Toscana, Italy (Sept. 28, 2013) -- Stellar teamwork resulted in two top-five finishes on the penultimate day of the 2013 UCI Road World Championships Saturday as Logan Owen (Bremerton, Wash./California Giant Cycling), placed fourth in the juniors men's road race and Evelyn Stevens (Dennis, Mass./Specialized-lululemon) took fifth in the elite women's road race. The performances give the American squad ten top-10 finishes so far this week, including bronze-medal performances on Tuesday by Carmen Small (Durango, Colo./Specialized-lululemon) in the elite women's time trial, and Zeke Mostov (San Francisco, Calif./ Slipstream-Craddock Junior Development) in the juniors men's time trial.

 
Logan Owen makes a move on the climb up Via Salviati during the juniors men's road race
Logan Owen makes a move on the climb up Via Salviati during the juniors men's road race. (Photo by Casey B. Gibson)
The day began with the juniors men's road race, a 140.05-kilometer trek from Montecatini Terme to Florence. An early break of 15 riders, including Mostov, gained upwards of five minutes on the field on the journey into Florence. Once inside the city and into the five 16-kilometer circuits that complete the race, the group still held a 3:26 advantage. Then the attacks started coming from the group.

Owen bridged to the front group to join Mostov on the second circuit along with reigning cyclo-cross junior world champion Mathieu Van Der Poel of the Netherlands.

"Earlier in the second lap I bridged and got caught over the top by Van Der Poel and a select group," said Owen. "It wasn't going to stay so kind of just rested and saved my energy."

The five laps around the city included two taxing climbs; the 4.37-kilomter Fiesole and the short, but steep, Fine Via Salviati. As Mostov faded back into the pack, Owen kept pressing to stay with the leaders.

"I started to cramp up the last time up the long climb," Owen said. "So I just spun and spun and made sure I did everything I could to make my muscles get recuperated and drink a lot of Gatorade. Finally, over the top I was okay but by that time Van Der Poel had already got a gap with another kid. I rested behind the group that was chasing because I knew everyone was going to go full gas because it's worlds."

Van Der Poel took off like a rocket on the last climb and never looked back as he coasted to his second rainbow jersey of the year. Behind him, the sprint was on for the silver and bronze medals, with Owen leading the charge. But it was not to be as Owen had to settle for his second fourth-place finish behind Van Der Poel this year, a repeat of the juniors race at the 2013 UCI World Cyclo-Cross Championships in February.

"I took my chance and went from the back of the group and caught two groups in front of us," said Owen. "I went flying up the right but had to cut back left and ended up half a bike length from the podium. It's a little disappointing to get fourth two worlds in a row, but I have next year."

Despite the heartbreaking finish, Owen had nothing but high praise for his U.S. teammates.

"The team rode awesome," he added. "That's the best teamwork I've ever seen on a road bike. I had guys sacrificing for me, helping me get food and drinks. These guys are awesome and they're going to go far in road racing."

Finishing behind Owen were his teammates Geoffrey Curran (Tustin, Calif./Get Crackin’-VRC) in 28th place, William Barta (Boise, Idaho/BYRDS (Boise Young Rider Dev Squad)) in 46th, and Mostov in 67th. Miguel Bryon (Miami, Fla./DCM Cycling Team) and Justin Oien (Escondido, Calif./MRI Endurance Elite Juniors) also contested the race for the American squad.

 
Evelyn Stevens and Kristin McGrath dictate the pace up the Via Salviati
Evelyn Stevens and Kristin McGrath dictate the pace up the Via Salviati. (Photo by Casey B. Gibson)
The afternoon's showcase was the elite women's race along the same 140.05-kilometer course. The seven-member American team quickly asserted itself at the head of the race, led by the efforts of Jade Wilcoxson (Talent, Ore./Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Carmen Small (Durango, Colo./Specialized-lululemon) who controlled the tempo of the race as it reached the city of Florence. In fact, six of the seven U.S. riders were at the front of the peloton as it reached the base of the first climb up the Fiesole.

Once on the climbs, Megan Gaurnier (Mountain View, Calif./Rabobank-Liv-Giant), Kristin McGrath (Boise, Idaho/Exergy TWENTY16), Mara Abbott (Boulder, Colo./Exergy TWENTY16) and Andrea Dvorak (Crozet, Va./Exergy TWENTY16) took turns giving maximum effort to position Stevens for the win. With just over one circuit remaining, Stevens was the lone American rider among the lead group of 11, which included two-time world champions Marianne Vos of the Netherlands and Giorgia Bronzini of Italy, who also had the luxury of two teammates to aid her.

On the last climb up the Via Salviati, Stevens sensed it was now or never and made a charge, but Vos quickly countered and then threw it into overdrive as she pulled away over the top of the climb and stayed away to the finish to claim her third rainbow jersey on the road.

Sweden's Emma Johannson got the better of Italy's Rossella Ratto in the sprint for second, and Stevens crossed the line alone in fifth place, 46 seconds behind Vos. Other U.S. finishers included Guarnier in 14th, McGrath in 32nd, Abbott in 37th and Dvorak in 44th place.

Stevens was quick to credit her teammates as well as U.S. coach Jack Seehafer.

"Jack has done a great job uniting the national team," said Stevens. "We came in with, for me, the strongest team I've ever raced worlds with. Carmen (Small) and Jade (Wilcoxson) brought us brilliantly into the laps. We came in and were setting pace up the climbs and we delivered the plan. It's always disappointing when you don't deliver the results. I thought I could do it and I tried, but kind of blew up a little on the last climb. I think I rode smart. I had to take a chance and go for it up the Fiesole climb. One against 11 is really bad. I wish I did a little better, but it was a beautiful course."

The UCI Road World Championships conclude on Sunday with the elite men's road race, a 272.26-kilometer jaunt from Lucca to Florence, including 10 laps of the 16.57-kilometer downtown circuit. Belgian Philipe Gilbert is the defending men's champion.

2013 UCI Road World Championships
Toscana, Italy
Sept. 22-29

FULL RESULTS | PHOTO GALLERY

Juniors Men's Road Race (140.05 km)
1. Mathieu Van Der Poel (NED) 3:33:14
2. Mads Pederson (DEN) +0:03
3. Iltjan Nika (ALB) +0:03
4. Logan Owen (Bremerton, Wash./California Giant Cycling) +0:03
28. Geoffrey Curran (Tustin, Calif./Get Crackin’-VRC) +1:09
46. William Barta (Boise, Idaho/BYRDS (Boise Young Rider Dev Squad)) +3:59
67. Zeke Mostov (San Francisco, Calif./ Slipstream-Craddock Junior Development) +6:36
Miguel Bryon (Miami, Fla./DCM Cycling Team) DNF
Justin Oien (Escondido, Calif./MRI Endurance Elite Juniors) DNF

Elite Women's Road Race (140.05 km)
1. Marianne Vos (NED) 3:44:00
2. Emma Johansson (SWE) +0:15
3. Rossella Ratto (ITA) +0:15
5. Evelyn Stevens ((Dennis, Mass./Specialized-lululemon) +0:46
14. Megan Gaurnier (Mountain View, Calif./Rabobank-Liv-Giant) +4:41
32. Kristin McGrath (Boise, Idaho/Exergy TWENTY16) +7:40
37. Mara Abbott (Boulder, Colo./Exergy TWENTY16) +9:40
44. Andrea Dvorak (Crozet, Va./Exergy TWENTY16) +13:00
Carmen Small (Durango, Colo./Specialized-lululemon) DNF
Jade Wilcoxson (Talent, Ore./Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) DNF
 
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