August 31, 2008

USA Cycling road race preview

Shirley, Leipheimer, HincapieToday's the day for the 2008 US road race championship.

This race course has been great at selecting the strongest riders, and has favored riders with ProTour-level experience. Garmin-Chipotle has brought all their big guns, so it's really their race to lose here.

Garmin-Chipotle: The team held Danny Pate, who was 2nd in the TT last year, out of this year's championship on Saturday. Christian Vande Velde, coming off a great season, made a strong effort, finishing 3rd -- does that mean he won't be the team's designated rider here this year? A win here would put a whole new face on Tom Danielson's season...

Another rider I was surprised to see skip the TT was Chris Baldwin, who won the open TT championship in 2005 and was 2nd in 2006. He and his Toyota-United teammates Chris Wherry and Justin England are looking for new teams, after their team management, still looking for a new team sponsor, freed the team to seek new employment in the meantime. They would really like to show off their talents here today.

George Hincapie, Craig Lewis, and John Devine are here for Team Columbia. Rock Racing brings a big squad -- 8 riders -- including Tyler Hamilton and Fred Rodriguez.

Many of the domestic squads are racing with nearly a full roster: Bissell's got 10 riders, including Asheville's Teddy King, Aaron Olson, and Ben Jacques-Maynes; BMC brought 7 riders, and their Jeff Louder is coming off a win at the Tour of Utah earlier this month.

There's supposed to be live streaming video of the race starting at race time, 1 p.m. Eastern. That same page has the latest start list.

I'll try to post some updates to my Twitter stream during the event -- look for photos later tonight.

Posted by Frank Steele on August 31, 2008 in 2008 USA Cycling Pro Championships | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 30, 2008

Zabriskie rolls to 3rd US title

Fierce and fast

Dave Zabriskie was seen by many as a question mark coming into the race, but he took a 3rd consecutive US title at the USA Cycling Pro Time Trial Championship today.

Zabriskie edged out Bissell's Tom Zirbel, with Garmin-Chipotle teammate Christian Vande Velde 3rd.

Here's my time trial photoset. I'll probably add a few more photos over the next couple of days. If you have photos of your own, please add them to Flickr's USA Cycling Championships pool.

Posted by Frank Steele on August 30, 2008 in 2008 USA Cycling Pro Championships, Dave Zabriskie, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 29, 2008

Stars and Stripes on offer this weekend in Greenville

Zabriskie hammersThe 2008 US Pro Cycling championships are this weekend in Greenville, and organizers have made a few changes I think will improve the fan experience. I've been to each of the Greenville championships, and had a great time at each -- if you're in the Southeast or mid-Atlantic, you should definitely consider the drive.

In 2005, the time trial championship (Dave Zabriskie's first title) was run on Friday, with the road race on Sunday. This had the advantage of a rest day between hard efforts for the riders, but the Friday TT drew crowds on par with a neighborhood swim meet.

Last year, organizers switched to a Saturday/Sunday alignment, which is probably best for fans (I might argue for Saturday/Monday, which would fill more Greenville hotel rooms and give riders trying to double a rest day). The TT course was a modified point-to-point, so there were only a few points on the course where you could see riders more than once. Additionally, access to the finish line was somewhat controlled by the community that hosted the finish, which ran satellite parking with shuttle buses to the finish.

This year, time trial action moves to Clemson University's International Center for Automotive Research, where the 20.7-mile course is 3 laps of 6.9 miles. Because of looping and turnarounds, there will be spots on the course where you'll be able to see each rider 6 times, and parking and course access are reportedly far more open.

For Sunday's road race, organizers didn't monkey much with a successful formula, again bridging early and late laps of downtown Greenville with 4 longer loops that include the race-making climb of Paris Mountain.

Shirley, Leipheimer, HincapieUnfortunately, defending US champ Levi Leipheimer (left, with '07 2nd place Hincapie and 3rd place Neil Shirley) will be across the pond, racing in the Vuelta with Astana. Almost all the other usual suspects are penciled in: Zabriskie, George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde, Fred Rodriguez, Tyler Hamilton, Tom Danielson, Danny Pate, and more, more, more. Two notable exceptions are Chris Horner and Bobby Julich.

I'll be there, as will Byron from Bike Hugger, Briggs from Euro Peloton and James from Bicycle Design. We're planning a meetup at Barley's Taproom Saturday at 5.

Look for live-blogging here and on Twitter, and for photos through the weekend in my Flickr photostream.

Also: | US Pro start lists

Time Trial course map (PDF version) | Road Race course map(PDF version)

Podium Cafe | Preview: USA Cycling Pro Championship

The PdC preview is intensely entertaining -- don't miss it.

podium in sight | US Pro Preview

Posted by Frank Steele on August 29, 2008 in 2008 USA Cycling Pro Championships, Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Danny Pate, Dave Zabriskie, Fred Rodriguez, George Hincapie, Tom Danielson, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack