2012 USA Cycling Pro Road Nationals boasts deepest field yet


Dave Zabriskie will be challenged to repeat as the USA Cycling Pro Time Trial National Champion in 2012. (Photo by Casey B. Gibson)
Dave Zabriskie will be challenged to repeat as the USA Cycling Pro Time Trial National Champion in 2012. (Photo by Casey B. Gibson)
The 2012 USA Cycling Professional Road & Time Trial National Championships begin Saturday in Greenville, S.C.

The professional men will contest the individual time trial presented by Duke Energy on Saturday at the Clemson University-International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) before culminating with the road race championship presented by TD Bank starting and finishing in downtown Greenville on Monday.

The individual time trial consists of three laps of a 6.9-mile course beginning at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. In 2011, Dave Zabriskie (Westlake Village, Calif./Garmin-Barracuda) collected his sixth professional road national championship after finishing his ride 30 seconds faster than his closest competition.

Two days later, beginning at 11 a.m. on Memorial Day, the riders will contest the 112.4-mile road race. The road race starts with three 4.2-mile circuits through downtown Greenville before traversing four longer laps over Paris Mountain and culminates with three downtown finishing circuits of 4.2 miles. The leaders are expected to begin the finishing circuits at approximately 3 p.m., returning to downtown Greenville to complete the 112.4-mile course.

This year’s event also marks the advent of the inaugural Volkswagen King of the Mountain classification as part of this event. The competition within the larger road race is new to the Greenville edition of the USA Cycling Professional Road National Championships. On each of the four trips up Paris Mountain, the top five riders will be scored. The first rider to the top will receive 10 points and the next four successive riders will receive seven, five, three and one point, respectively. The rider who finishes the race with the most Volkswagen King of the Mountain points will receive a blue polka-dotted jersey with Volkswagen’s “Think Blue” message and a check for $1,000.

In last year’s road race, Matthew Busche (Wauwatosa, Wisc./RadioShack-Nissan-Trek) narrowly edged three-time pro road national champion George Hincapie (Greenville, S.C./BMC Racing Team) with a well-timed bike throw to earn his first Stars-and-Stripes jersey.

The weekend marks the 27th anniversary of the one-day road race championship and the seventh year of American-only competition. Past winners include Olympic speedskating champion Eric Heiden (1985), Lance Armstrong (1993), Hincapie (1998, 2006, 2009) and Fred Rodriguez (2000, 2001, 2004).

Dozens of elite handcyclists will also compete in time trial and criterium contests, as the 2011 Roger C. Peace Hospital – Rehabilitation U.S. Handcycling Series presented by Paralyzed Veterans of America takes place in Greenville. Many of the top handcyclists are U.S. military veterans who were recently injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as accomplished athletes, including six-time U.S. handcycling national champion Matt Updike.

Organizers of the 2012 USA Cycling Professional Road & Time Trial National Championships confirmed some of the prominent names of American pro cycling expected to be among the star-studded fields over Memorial Day weekend in Greenville, S.C.

Zabriskie, the defending national champion, has his hands full in defending the Stars-and-Stripes jerseys earned last year.

Zabriskie, who won the time trial and placed second overall at the 2012 Amgen Tour of California earlier this month, will be forced to contend with America’s best time trial cyclists again this year as more than half of the top 10 from last year’s event are among the 45 riders already registered. The bronze medalist in the time trial last year, Busche will contest the race of truth along with Ben King (North Garden, Va./RadioShack-Nissan-Trek), who became the youngest rider ever to win the professional road race national championship in 2010. Chase Pinkham (Salt Lake City, Utah/Bissell Cycling) and David Williams (Indianapolis, Ind./Bissell Cycling) are looking to improve on their ninth and 10th-place finishes in 2011 in this event.

Other notable athletes among the registrants with an eye on a new or first-time national title are: two-time USA Cycling Elite Time Trial champion Chris Baldwin (Boulder, Colo./Bissell Pro Cycing) and 2010 U23 national road race champion Tejay van Garderen (Fort Collins, Colo./BMC Racing Team). Van Garderen recently earned the Best Young Rider jerseys at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and Amgen Tour of California in 2011. Earlier this year, he placed fifth in Paris-Nice while winning the Best Young Rider classification at that contest.

Matthew Busche is facing a stellar field in the road race in Greenville. (Photo by Casey B. Gibson)
Matthew Busche is facing a stellar field in the road race in Greenville. (Photo by Casey B. Gibson)
Over 100 of America’s premier road cyclists are registered to contest the road race on Monday, May 28. The defending champion, Busche, will be tested by a highly-decorated peloton of the country’s best riders. Greenville’s own Hincapie narrowly lost to Busche last year and will be determined to avenge that defeat. The winner and third-place finisher at the 2011 Amgen Tour of California, Chris Horner (San Diego, Calif./RadioShack-Nissan-Trek) and Tom Danielson (Boulder, Colo./Garmin-Barracuda) are anticipated participants. Danielson’s teammate and one of America’s premier sprinters, Tyler Farrar (Seattle, Wash.), who won the third stage of the 2011 Tour de France, will also toe the line. The breakaway winner of this event in 2010, King, is a viable threat to take the top step of the podium.

“This is going to be one of the most exciting weekends of professional road racing in America this year,” said USA Cycling President & CEO Steve Johnson. “The fields are incredibly deep in the both the road race and time trial; and there are any of a dozen or more riders that could win either event. While the outcomes of the events remain to be determined, one thing for certain is that it will be a great weekend of racing in Greenville!”

Teams like Bissell, Jelly Belly, and Garmin-Barracuda will bring four or more riders each. The top ranked team in USA Cycling’s National Racing Calendar (NRC) standings (through May 14), Competitive Cyclist Racing, will bring eight riders to the championships. Other top NRC teams with full squads include Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies with 12 riders and Kenda 5 Hour Energy presented by Geargrinder with nine riders. Additionally, a development team sporting Hincapie’s name, BMC-Hincapie Sportswear Development Team, is sending nine riders, including Parker Kyzer, who calls Spartanburg, S.C. home.

Tejay van Garderen and Chris Horner are among the threats challenging Dave Zabriskie and Matthew Busche in Greenville. (Photo by Casey Gibson)
Tejay van Garderen and Chris Horner are among the threats challenging Dave Zabriskie and Matthew Busche in Greenville. (Photo by Casey Gibson)
Other local riders slated to participate in the weekend’s races include Andrew Baker (Easley, S.C./Bissell Pro Cycling) and a slew of riders from Georgia, including Thomas Brown (Athens, Ga./Mountain Khakis-SmartStop),
Phillip Gaimon (Athens, Ga./Kenda 5 Hour Energy p/b Geargrinder), Ty Magner (Athens, Ga./BMC-Hincapie Sportswear Development Team), Andrew Meyer (Cohutta, Ga./BMC-Hincapie Sportswear Development Team), Joey Rosskopf (Decatur, Ga./Team Type 1) and Michael Stone (Monroe, Ga./BMC-Hincapie Sportswear Development Team).

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 prize money and, more importantly, the right to wear prestigious Stars-and-Stripes jerseys for the 2012 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.

"This year's event promises to be spectacular, based on the confirmed talent of the riders and the teams, as well as the excitement of this being an Olympic year,” managing partner of Medalist Sports Chris Aronhalt said. “The tradition of the event continues to grow, as well as the anticipation of who the next set of national champions will be. It has been our pleasure to partner with the Greenville community and USA Cycling over the past seven years."

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. Please find daily recaps, results, videos and a photo gallery from Greenville on www.usacycling.org.

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This Article Updated May 24, 2012 @ 10:45 AM For more information contact: