KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Alex Howes passed hometown favorite Stephen Bassett in the final stretch to win the men’s USA Cycling Pro Road National Championship on Sunday.
“I was in tears. I’ve been running after this one for a while, eight years or so,” said Howes of Boulder, Colo. and who races for EF Education First.. “So, I’ve been on the podium a few times and always an animator, just never there.
“Today we went early and just kept going. I can’t believe it paid off,” Howes said.
Howes was part of a three-rider group in contention at the final that included, in addition to Bassett, Neilson Powless of Roseville, Calif., and Team Jumo-Visama.
“Neilson Powless is probably one of the best guys in the States right now,” Howes said. “This isn’t necessarily his course. Stephen Bassett, hometown hero out there, was unbelievably strong and riding with a full heart. He was hard to get around.”
Bassett, who races for First Internet Bank Cycling, said “It just kept being small gaps and small gaps, and I was trying to stay on the sharp end of all of
them. And then finally, there was one that kind of blew it up.”
The Extra Mile: A WATE special on the USA Cycling National Championship
“I kind of slithered off the front a little bit before these guys came across, so that kind of saved me, I think, when they really went full [gas]. I had a bit of a head start.”
Thousands of fans, some dressed in colorful costumes, lined Knoxville streets to watch and cheer the riders in 90 degree heat.
The USA Cycling National Championship is set to return to Knoxville for the next two years.