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USA Cycling Elite, U23 & Junior National Championships - NE
California, USA, August 6-10, 2008
By Kirsten Robbins
Having the Olympic Games just around the corner has left the US women's individual time trial wide open and a new champion difficult to predict. The 33-kilometre event will kick off the US national championship weeklong event on Wednesday August 6 in Irvine, California.
Three of America's top time trialists, three-time national champion, Kristin Armstrong, Christine Thorburn and Amber Neben will not be competing in their specialty event at the national championships. Their pursuit to bring home a gold medal in Beijing, has left the event open for a knew successor.
The stars and stripes skin suit could fall on the back of any number of strong time trialist including Katheryn Curi-Mattis (Webcor), Mara Abbott (High Road), Katharine Carroll (Aaron's), Alison Powers (Colavita-Sutter Home) and Amber Rais (Tibco).
The time trial will be contested on an out and back course totaling 33-kilometres. Riders will Day at Aliso Creek bike way and follow the bike path to Santiago Canyon Road. The undulating terrain has 1287' of climbing with the majority leading to the turn-around point.
According to USA Cycling officials, 'the road surface is in excellent condition with a wide and well defined bike lane on both sides of the Santiago Canyon roadway that riders are expected to stay on.'
For the men, the professionals have their own championships at the end of August, so the amateur elites will battle it out for the stars and stripes without being crushed by the big names not heading to Beijing. Instead, last year's winner, Karl Bordine, will have to contend with a strong group of competitors which includes Garmin-Chipotle trackie Colby Pearce, cyclo-cross star Andy Jacques-Maynes.
Saturday's 123-kilometre road race will see some one hundred Elite women cyclist from around the country lined up in pursuit of the prestigious championship title. Last year Mara Abbott won the stars and stripes jersey out of a two-woman breakaway against Armstrong. The youngster out sprinted the veteran on a decisive climbing circuit.
Abbott will no doubt be looking to win the championships for a second time but must contend multiple other riders on good form. Key riders to look out for in the road race include Meredith Miller and Kristin Sanders (Aaron's), Katheryn Curi-Mattis and Janel Holcomb (Webcor), Kori Seehafer (Menikini), Stacy Marple (Cheerwine) and Alison Powers (Colavita-Sutter Home).
This year the championship could also land on the back of a sprinter given the course is significantly flatter quality. The 31-kilometre, four-lap course will suits riders like Tina Pic (Colavita/Sutter Home), Brooke Miller (Tibco), Laura Van Gilder and Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine), Jen McRae (Advil-ChapStick) and Rebecca Larson (Aaron's). The course offers 1050' of climbing per lap. USA Cycling officials considers this a very fast course that incorporates two steady and gradual climbs per lap plus a short 1k climb to the finish line.
U.S. elite road champion will defend title
By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
While the men's professional championships for the United States road titles occur at the end of August in a separate event, elite amateurs (similar to the 'without contract' status of other countries) are vying for the stars and stripes jersey this weekend in Irvine, California both in the time trial and road race disciplines. The defending road champion Paul Martin (Texas Roadhouse), a resident of Ohio, was unsure if he would spend the time and money traveling to California to defend his championship. But in a rare irony, Martin's nine-to-five job will allow him to make the trip, opposed to getting in the way of training.
"I actually have a business trip that week, so I will already be there!" he told Cyclingnews while racing the recent Superweek series. "I don't think my wife would have let me go otherwise."
Martin will be tough to be as he recently defended his masters national title from 2007 in the 35-39 age category; since the trip to Louisville, Kentucky was easier to manage. Along with this, Martin was on good form at Superweek and Chicago, often making it into the main breakaways that lapped the field.
Trying to unseat him will be a large field, including a California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized team with thirteen starters, including Andy Jacques-Maynes and James Mattis who had an impressive ride at the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic.
Other names of note are former professional David Clinger riding for Van Dessel/Bike Warrior, a Rock Racing amateur team and a veteran one-two punch from two former Olympians and Pan Am Games gold medalists Thurlow Rogers and Wayne Stetina (Amgen/Giant Masters).