Howes, Winder win USA Cycling road national championships

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Alex Howes won his first national championships with a deftly played chess match.

Ruth Winder won hers with brute power.

After getting dropped by breakaway companions Stephen Bassett and Neilson Powless, Howes caught back on in the closing miles Sunday, then swept to the lead on the final climb. The EF Education First rider cleanly made it through the last left-hand turn and raised his arms in victory.

Bassett came through in second and Powless rounded out the podium.

“I’ve been running after this one for a while, eight years or so,” Howes said. “I’ve been on the podium a few times and always an animator and just never there, and today we went early and just kept going and I can’t believe it paid off.”

Earlier in the day, Winder won the women’s race after a dramatic solo attack six miles from the finish, holding off hard-charging Coryn Rivera and Emma White at the finish line.

“Just keep on going, that’s all I was thinking. Just trying to motivate myself to go as hard as I could,” Winder said. “Coming across the finish line, I thought everyone was going to pass me in the last 100 meters, just coming down there because I was dying so bad. I had nothing. I sat down. And I was like, `Get up! Sprint, sprint, sprint!’ Nobody passed me and I can’t believe that I won.”

The men’s race came down to a cat-and-mouse game between the three breakaway riders.

Powless was the first to attack with about four miles to go, then Bassett – the hometown hero – countered and Howes was dropped from the group. That left the best-known rider in the trio fighting to get back with the leaders on a scorching day in Tennessee.

The Denver native finally caught back on, and it became a tactical battle among the trio.

Powless was the first to crack on the final hill, and Bassett ramped up the pace to create a gap, raising the hopes of his personal cheering section. But as he crested the final hill, Bassett looked over to see Howes pulling even, then swinging to the lead on the final downhill push.

He breezed through the final left-hand corner to claim a long-awaited national championship.

The women’s race covered just over 70 miles, but nothing was decided until riders returned to Knoxville and began making laps toward a large crowd awaiting them at the finish.

Winder’s teammate, Tayler Wiles, began to set the pace for a chase group up Sherrod Road, and Lily Williams and Shayna Powless soon joined Winder on the attack. They swept up a pair of breakaway riders and kept working together until Winder and Williams built a gap.

“It’s just really hard to get away in a breakaway in these races,” Winder said, “because everybody is watching everybody else so intently, so I tried being a little bit sneaky about my attack. I wanted to know how Tayler was, of course, but I also used it as a way to be sneaky in my attack. Because she had just gone really, really hard and everyone was just started to slow up, and I was like, `Hey, are you doing OK?’ And she’s like, `Yeah.’ And, `OK, cool. See you.”‘

Winder left Williams behind on the final climb of Sherrod Road, but she still needed to survive about six miles with a strong but reduced peloton giving frantic chase.

Wiles was there to help once again, going to the front and effectively slowing it down. Rivera finally managed to get around her and launch a sprint, but she couldn’t get Winder at the line.

“I knew I could go in the straightaways and I knew that I had a couple of corners to recover in,” said Winder, who was born in England but raised in Lafayette, California. “So just go as hard as I could, breathe in the corners, and go as hard as I could.”

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Norway takes gold-medal lead at world road cycling titles

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WOLLONGONG, Australia – Soren Waerenskjold repeated Norway’s gold medal success at the world road cycling championships a day after Tobias Foss finished first in the elite men’s time trial.

Waerenskjold won the men’s under-23 time trial on the second day of the championships with a dominant performance. He clocked 34 minutes, 13.40 seconds over the 28.8-kilometer course to beat Belgian Alec Segaert by 16.34 seconds.

British rider Leo Hayter, the younger brother of elite rider Ethan Hayter, was 24.16 seconds off the pace for the bronze medal.

Foss beat a strong field to win the elite time trial, the biggest win of his career.

Norway has two gold medals, while Dutch ace Ellen van Dijk beat Australian Grace Brown to take out the women’ elite time trial.

The mixed relay time trial is set for Wednesday. The championships conclude on the weekend with the women’s road race on Saturday and the men’s on Sunday.

Ellen van Dijk defends time trial title at cycling worlds

95th UCI Road World Championships 2022 - Women Individual Time Trial
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WOLLONGONG, Australia – Ellen van Dijk defended her title and claimed a third women’s time trial gold medal at the opening event of the world road cycling championships on Sunday.

Taking advantage of a technical course the Dutch star maintained a perfectly paced cadence to beat Australia’s Grace Brown by 12.79 seconds to defend the time trial gold she won last year. Swiss rival Marlen Reusser took bronze.

Local favorite Brown was one of the early staters and set a blistering time around the 34.2 kilometer (21.3 miles) course at the scenic coastal town center of Wollongong, south of Sydney.

No other in the 45-strong field could get close to Brown’s time of 44 minutes 41.33 seconds until the final pair of van Dijk and Reusser, who claimed silver at last year’s world championships in Belgium, both clocked faster at the first time check.

Reusser then faded to finish more than 41 seconds off Brown’s time, but van Dijk powered on to claim her third gold medal in a time of 44:28.60.

Olympic time trial champion and two-time world champion Annemiek van Vleuten finished seventh, more than 90 seconds behind compatriot van Dijk.

Later Sunday, Vuelta a Espana winner Remco Evenepoel from Belgium, Italian two-time defending world champion Filippo Ganna and two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar from Slovenia headline the men’s event.

Other major races are the mixed relay time trial on Wednesday and the women’s road race next Saturday before the men’s race on the closing day Sunday, with local star and Giro d’Italia winner Jai Hindley racing the clock to recover from COVID-19 to take his place in the race.