The USA Cycling Pro Road National Championships enjoyed a lively opening Thursday on the shores of Melton Hill Reservoir. ‘
The riders battled the heat and humidity on the 7.12-mile time trial course. Under brilliant blue skies, the temperatures climbed to 90 degrees and the heat index reached 100 by midday. Among the field of 23 elite women, Amber Neben blasted across the two laps to secure her third consecutive Individual Time Trial title in as many years. She captured a third gold medal in a time of 30 minutes, 19 seconds.
“The first year (in Knoxville), we raced in downtown Knoxville, a very, very different course. The demands of the course were very different,” the 44-year-old Neben said. “That was actually the first win (here). It was my second (career) TT win, but it had been the first one in a long time so it was pretty special. The second one was at this beautiful area (Oak Ridge). The roads are just smooth and flowy. I think today I was the most nervous of all of them.”
Ian Garrison added his second ITT national title in seven days by taking the Stars-and-Stripes jersey for Elite Men. Last week in Hagerstown, Maryland, he won the Men’s U23 ITT Championship. He becomes the first male athlete to capture U23 and Elite national titles in the same year.
The U.S. Pro Criterium Championship will take place Friday, June 28 under the lights in downtown Knoxville. The women will race for 70 minutes in downtown Knoxville beginning at 6 p.m. The men will race for 80 minutes beginning at 7:25 p.m.
The 1.1-mile closed-loop circuit will roll along S. Gay Street and feature six turns, with one steep climb on Clinch Avenue. Sunday, June 30, brings the signature event of the championships, the U.S. Pro Road Race Championship, which will also be held in downtown Knoxville.