At the end of a water-logged week in Yorkshire, USA Cycling came away from the UCI Road World Championships with a bagful of medals and a whole load of positives. Just as the rain kept falling, so riders from the US continued to step up, taking medals throughout the week and putting them second only to the Netherlands in the overall medal count.
From the juniors through to the highest level, US riders have flown the flag proudly. In Sunday’s elite men’s road race, run in relentless rain and with temperatures dipping into the low 40s, Chad Haga and Neilson Powless were among only 46 riders out of 197 starters to finish the grueling 260km course, the lowest number in years. Even for this notoriously wet part of the world the conditions were exceptionally demanding, with pre-race favorites dropping out like drowned flies. Hats off to anyone who crossed the finish line.
Beginning on Tuesday with the men’s U23 time trial, where Ian Garrison and Brandon McNulty took silver and bronze, the week got off to a great start for US cycling fans. Chloé Dygert Owen stormed to take gold in the women’s elite time trial that same day with a ride that was on a truly different level to the rest of the field. Completing her 30km ride an eye-popping, record-breaking 90 seconds faster than the next best, it was a happy ending to a tough few years for the Indiana native who suffered a serious crash at the 2018 Amgen Tour of California.
The following days saw the future of US cycling well and truly arrive on the scene. Wednesday’s elite men’s time trial was hotly contested, with young Texan Lawson Craddock finishing just over two minutes off the pace to take an outstanding 6th place and Chad Haga ending a creditable 19th, a further two minutes down.
Thursday’s junior men’s road race saw 18-year-old Quinn Simmons take the win in commanding fashion, taking off with 33km to go in the rain-soaked 150km race and winning by almost a minute. Ample time to grab the flag and enjoy the victory.
Teammate Magnus Sheffield expertly monitored the chase behind, getting due reward for his work with a bronze medal. The following day, in Friday’s women’s junior road event, 17-year-old Californian Megan Jastrab won an exciting sprint finish, the national jersey topping the podium for the second time in as many days.
There she is, our World Champion wearing her Jersey!!! pic.twitter.com/3vVc8mQxwT— USA Cycling (@usacycling) September 27, 2019
Before Sunday’s soaking rounded out the week, Saturday saw the elite women race on a remarkably dry and sunny day across Yorkshire. This was what the tourist board had no doubt hoped for all week, the rolling green fields of ‘God’s Own County’ unveiling themselves in all their glory.
“She raced to win and left everything out on the course" said @yokoteute of @chloedygert30, "One rainbow jersey and fourth place performance is something she should be proud of. I know that we are.” https://t.co/iubuDLZ24F pic.twitter.com/SMczoYSlqp— USA Cycling (@usacycling) September 28, 2019
Once again Chloé Dygert Owen put in an incredible performance, taking off with 40km to go in search of the lone leader, Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands. It wasn’t to be for Dygert Owen who was snagged on the run in, but she held on bravely for a well-earned fourth place on the day, 3’24” down on the winner. Californian Coryn Rivera was the next highest placed US rider, coming home in the main bunch two minutes after her compatriot, crossing the line in 10th.
It’s been an incredible performance from the USA team. As reported by Velonews’ Jim Cotton, the results are the culmination of years of behind-the-scenes work and dedication. One thing we can be sure of is that we’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more from these guys and girls over the next few years. The future is bright.