UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling fired up for U.S. Pro Nationals
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Nationals weekend has finally arrived, and the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling men’s and women’s team are ready to take on the summer heat in Knoxville, Tennessee for three days of racing against the nation’s finest.
New format includes criterium championship on same weekend
Racing starts on June 21 with the U.S. Pro Individual Time Trial Championship. The next day, Friday, June 22 under the lights in downtown Knoxville, with the women’s beginning at 6:15 p.m. and the men starting at 7:45 p.m. After a rest day, the nationals weekend concludes with the road race on June 24, the women start at 9:15 a.m. EDT and the men follow at 1:15 p.m. Both road races will be streamed live on USA Cycling’s YouTube and Facebook channels.
Travis McCabe, defending criterium champion and third at the 2016 road race, has high hopes for both the crit and the road race.
“I think it only makes sense to have all three disciplines of the sport together at the same time and place this year,” McCabe said. “The guys who are contesting each title are fully capable of racing the crit and the road race within the same weekend. As for myself, I will be coming to Knoxville with big goals. Ultimately, I would love to be able to wear the stars and stripes in both disciplines and I fully believe I’m capable of doing so.
McCabe has tailored his training to suit the road race rather than the criterium, and he’s excited to see it pay off in time for one of his biggest targets of the season.
“I feel like my form is finally back to where it needs to be, so I’m super pumped to get to Knoxville,” he went on to say. “It’s not only the training, it’s showing up and making sure I’m 100 percent ready to race and leave everything I have out on the course. My main focus is definitely the road race, but we all know just how difficult it is to win a national championship, pretty much everything has to go right and there is a lot of super strong guys racing this year, so fingers crossed.”
Gavin Mannion, last year’s runner up at the Tour of Utah, will play a supporting role at nationals. The 26-year-old takes the start line of the road race with McCabe, Eric Marcotte, Daniel Eaton, Adrian Hegyvary and Tanner Putt.
“I’m definitely excited, but more for some of my teammates’ chances than my own,” Mannion said. “Nationals is a one day race and with it being 200 km this year it’s suits me a bit more than in years past, but it’s still not an ideal course for a rider like me. We have some super strong one-day riders like McCabe, Tanner Putt and Eric Marcotte – they are guys that can all win in a small group sprint or solo at the end of a hard day.”
Eaton is participating in all three championship races, and is the only rider from UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling starting the time trial.
“I’m feeling good and confident coming into the race,” Eaton said. “I’ve had a good lead up with Tour of Korea and Tour of Beauce. I’ve been riding the TT bike quite a bit to get comfortable in the position. I think the course is ok for me, I usually do better with more consistent courses and this one seems to be a bit more punchy, but I’ll give it all I have though.”
On the women’s side, Leah Thomas, third in the 2017 national time trial, is eager to better her podium placing from last year in the time trial.
“I am excited to race Nationals time trial again this year in Knoxville,” Thomas said. “Nationals is always a hard race and with many good time trialists in the U.S., there are a strong handful of contenders who can make a run for the national title.
This year the time trial course is new, with multiple turn arounds and shorter segments, which will make it harder to find a typical time trial rhythm.
“One’s ability to handle the heat and humidity will play another important role in the outcome of the race,” Thomas said. “I am grateful to be out here early to get a feel for the course and make any last-minute adjustments. I feel prepared and am eager to give it my all on race day and see where the cards land.”
Recent winner of Tour of California, Katie Hall joins Thomas, Lauren Hall and Janelle for the road race.
“I don’t think the course suits me but I am excited to race because I think we have a lot of cards to play,” Hall said. “Leah, Lauren, and Janelle are all going quite well at the moment and I think that will make for some fun and aggressive racing on our part. I feel good about my form but we will have to figure out the best way for us all to use our strengths to get a win.”