Garrison, Neben win U.S. time trial cycling championships

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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — Ian Garrison knew that the heat wave in Tennessee could wreak havoc on the field at the U.S. time trial championships, particularly when riders were on their final lap.

Turns out he paced himself perfectly.

The 21-year-old from Decatur, Georgia, finished in just over 42 minutes, 58 seconds on Thursday, making up a slight deficit to Neilsen Powless over the third and final lap. Garrison’s cushion wound up being 19 seconds over Powless, while George Simpson took bronze.

“The heat was going to be a big factor because it really gets you toward the end,” said Garrison, who rides for the U.S.-based Hagens Berman Axeon team. “You feel fine at the beginning and at the end it’s so much easier to blow up in the heat.”

Also mastering the heat? Amber Neben.

She cruised to her third consecutive title in the women’s time trial, finishing two laps over the same course in 30:19 to top Chloe Dygert Owen by 36 seconds. Leah Thomas finished third.

As usual, many of the biggest names in American cycling were absent in anticipation of a possible Tour de France start. That includes two-time and defending champion Joey Rosskopf, three-time winner Taylor Phinney and time trial specialists such as Chad Haga and Brent Bookwalter.

Garrison, who finished 11th in the race against the clock a year ago, took advantage of it.

He was fourth from the end rolling out but quickly laid down a fast time, and Garrison was still in the mix when Powless and Warbasse hit the course after him.

Powless had the fastest time at the first checkpoint, nearly 10 seconds faster than Garrison, but watched his lead dwindle to 1.36 seconds by the completion of the second lap. Powless faded even more on the final lap, allowing Garrison to win his first elite national championship.

“I didn’t have a radio but they said in the car that my split was good,” Garrison said, “and then the last lap they said I was 1 seconds behind Neilson, so in my head it kind of freaked me out a bit. But I tried not to think about it too much and tried to push what I could for the last lap.”

It turned out to be enough as Garrison made a bold statement to the selectors who will begin to scrutinize results in advance of the world championships and next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

“So much of it was preparation,” Garrison said. “You just go out there and do the best you can. It’s all the work the past few months of coming out here, reconning, thinking about it. It’s trying to make sure you don’t blow up, don’t overthink it and do the best you can.”

As the reigning champion, Neben was the final rider out of the starting gate for the women’s race, and she already led Thomas by more than 20 seconds by the intermediate time check.

Not that Neben, a two-time time trial world champion, would have known.

“I don’t time trial with a radio,” she said. “My philosophy is essentially, `I’m going as hard as I can, so what can someone tell me? Go harder?’ It’s more a distraction for me.”

Neben’s second lap along the Melton Hill Reservoir near Knoxville was only slightly slower than her first, and that was more than enough to deliver her fourth national title.

“I didn’t feel very good,” said Neben, who also has eight runner-up finishes. “It’s a special day to win. It’s really hard to win. So I don’t take anything for granted.”

Owen has struggled with injuries since her breakout performance at the 2015 world championships, but she’s finally feeling healthy again. And while she had aimed for the top step of the podium, the heat combined with a malfunction of her race radio conspired against her.

“Those aren’t excuses. I did what I could with how I prepared,” she said. “Of course I’d like to be on the top step, but this is the first season in three years I’ve been injury-free. This is a goal, but the end goal is obviously the world championships and next year’s Olympics.”

The road world championships continue Friday night with the men’s and women’s criteriums through downtown Knoxville. The men’s and women’s road races take place Sunday.

Primoz Roglic triumphs at Tirreno-Adriatico for winning return from injury

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SAN BENEDETTO DEL TRONTO, Italy — Primož Roglič made a winning return to cycling as he triumphed at the week-long Tirreno-Adriatico for a fourth Slovenian victory in five editions at “The Race of the Two Seas.”

It was Roglič’s first race of the season after the Jumbo-Visma rider underwent shoulder surgery last year.

“It’s just nice to come back to racing this way. I really enjoyed the whole week,” Roglič said. “My teammates were super strong.

“One week ago I was just expecting to suffer. It’s even better to win when it’s unexpected. It feels good ahead of the Giro d’Italia too.”

After winning the previous three stages to build up a significant advantage, Roglič protected his lead and finished safely in the peloton during Stage 7 to end the week-long race 18 seconds ahead of João Almeida of Portugal and 23 seconds ahead of British cyclist Tao Geoghegan Hart.

Roglič won the Tirreno in 2019. Fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogačar won the two previous editions but the two-time defending champion was competing at the Paris-Nice race which he won.

Belgian cyclist Jasper Philipsen won a bunch sprint to take the stage win. The Alpecin-Deceuninck rider edged out Dylan Groenewegen and Alberto Dainese.

It was Philipsen’s second sprint victory at this year’s Tirreno, setting him up as one of the favorites for next weekend’s Milan-San Remo race.

“I was dying in the end, my legs felt really painful, but I’m happy that I could keep it to the finish,” Philipsen said.

“The sprint stage is always different from a classic like San Remo but of course we have some confidence. We have a strong team I think. So now it’s good to take some time off, recover a little bit and try to be on top level.”

There was an early breakaway in the 154-kilometer (96-mile) route that started and finished in San Benedetto del Tronto but the eight riders were caught with just over 3 kilometers (2 miles) remaining.

Pogacar tops Gaudu, Vingegaard to win Paris-Nice


NICE, France — An impressive Tadej Pogacar clinched the final stage with a solo escape to win the week-long Paris-Nice.

David Gaudu finished second overall, 53 seconds behind Pogacar, while Jonas Vingegaard was third at 1 minute, 39 seconds back.

Pogacar attacked during the climb of Col d’Eze with 18 kilometers (11.2 miles) to go, finishing the eighth stage 33 seconds ahead of a small group made up of Vingegaard, Gaudu, Simon Yates and Matteo Jorgenson.

The Slovenian rider completed the 118-kilometer trek around Nice in 2 hours, 51 minutes, 2 seconds, crossing the finish line with both arms raised before taking a bow in front of the crowd and clapping his hands.

Pogacar now has a slight mental edge over Vingegaard, also outclassing him last October to win the Tour of Lombardy.

The duel between Pogacar and Vingegaard has become one of the biggest rivalries in cycling. Vingegaard finished second behind Pogacar in the 2021 Tour de France. But the Danish rider managed to beat Pogacar in the 2022 Tour de France for his first major title.

Vingegaard still has time to hit peak form. The Tour de France starts July 1.

Pogacar is the current leader in the UCI men’s road racing world rankings.

Pogacar and Vingegaard both started the season well. Last month in Spain, Pogacar won the Tour of Andalucia while Vingegaard won the O Gran Camino. Pogacar took the yellow jersey by winning the fourth stage. He dumped Vingegaard in the climb of La Loge des Gardes. Only Gaudu could stay on Pogacar’s wheel.

The two-time Tour de France winner extended his overall lead by taking Stage 7, beating Gaudu and Vingegaard in a small sprint atop Col de la Couillole.

French rider Gaudu finished fourth overall in the 2022 Tour de France but failed to finish in the past two editions of Paris-Nice.

The next race on the UCI World Tour is the Milan-San Remo classic on March 18.