May 24, 2012

US PRO - The Wayward Championship

Check The US Pro Cycling Jersey Site

Since time began...or at least since 1985 the U.S. has chosen their National Champions in stark contrast to most of the rest of the World. While all of Europe holds their National Championships on the same weekend - not coincidentally in the weeks before the Tour starts, the US has followed its own path. For years (1985 - 2005) we had CoreStates US Pro Championships in Philadelphia, but even that was a bit different since the race was open to any pro who wanted to race it - and almost as often than not a European rider won the day:

1985 - Eric Heiden
1986 - Thomas Prehn
1987 - Tom Schuler
1988 - Winner Roberto Gaggioli (ITA), US Champ Ron Keifel
1989 - Greg Oravetz
1990 - Paolo Cimini (ITA), US Champ Kurt Stockton
1991 - Michael Zanoli (NED),US Champ Davis Phinney
1992 - Bart Bowen
1993 - Lance Armstrong
1994 - Sean Yates (GBR), US Champ Steve Hegg
1995 - Norm Alvis
1996 - Eddy Gragus
1997 - Massamilliano Lelli (ITA), US Champ Bart Bown
1998 - George Hincapie
1999 - Jakob Pil (DEN), US Champ Mary Jemison
2000 - Henk Vogels (AUS), US Champ Fred Rodriguez
2001 - Fred Rodriguez
2002 - Mark Walters (CAN), US Champ Chann McRae
2003 - Stefano Zanini (ITA), US Champ Mark McCormack
2004 - Francisco Ventoso (ESP), US Champ Fred Rodriguez
2005 - Chris Wherry

In 2006 they moved the race to both the fall (?) and Greenville, South Carolina. They also made it a US only race finally.

2006 - George Hincapie
2007 - Levi Leipheimer
2008 - Tyler Hamilton
2009 - George Hincapie
2010 - Ben King
2011 - Matthew Busche
2012 - So, what does this year look like? Given the level of racing in the U.S. this year it's a pretty wide open event. Certainly the Euro-Based Americans have an advantage - they are still a tier above the domestic pro's, but there are some US riders who've shown some amazing talent the last few months, including Andrew Talansky, TJ Van Garderen, Chris Horner, and Tim Duggan with US riders like Ben Jaques-Maynes, Nate English, and  Chris Baldwin on my short list for the final selection...but we'll see come Monday.

For 2013 the Championships are moving to Chattanooga Tennessee and a local climb called "Lookout Mountain" - I've looked on Strava and there are a few options that could prove interesting, but I still have to wonder about Tennessee as a race venue. They have less than 2% of USAC membership, probably less than 0.5% but good stats are hard to find. TBRA - Tennessee Racing Assocation - shows typical race fields of 10-25 riders per category and events most weekends of the summer, so I'm not down on the race scene, I'm really not. I'm wondering about the community support more and my reference is the CX Masters Worlds in Louisville KY last year and CX Worlds coming up in January. Good venue by most accounts bu tjust NO presence to speak of. Industry didn't turn out, racers sorta turned out and crowds largely didn't. I'm afraid the same will happen in Chattanooga..but I hope not. I would like to see the race have the same kind of ambiance and excitement as at CX Nats in Golden Gate Park or the past few years in Bend, Oregon. Our National Championships deserve no less, so I'm crossing my fingers.

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