2 years ago by Tom Owen

Chasing the stars and stripes – a US Pro preview

Team returns to Knoxville with its eyes on the prize

Rally Cycling is heading to Tennessee to compete in the 2021 USA Cycling Professional Road National Championships. Held from June 17 – 20, the top American talent from around the world will converge in Knoxville to duke it out for the right to wear the stars and stripes.

As national champion, the winning men’s and women’s riders will wear the iconic US national champion’s jersey for an entire season – although the current holders including Emma White have had twice the time in the limelight, with the championships being postponed in 2020. 

The white whale

Rally Cycling has been competing at US nationals for over a decade, and while its riders have won multiple titles across the criterium, women’s road race and men’s time trial, there are two wins that have eluded them thus far: the men’s road race and the women’s time trial.

In 2018, Robin Carpenter bagged second place in the road race, only for Stephen Bassett to come second in 2019 (before signing on to race with Rally Cycling). 

As far back as 2009 and ’10, riders from the team were on the podium, with Andrew Bajadali – now women’s sports director – coming second in ’09 and Alex Candelario second the next year to a certain young talent named Ben King.

It’s no exaggeration to say the team wants this one bad. 

“Of course this is a big target for us as an organization,” Jonas Carney, performance manager explained. “As a North American team with ambitions on the world stage, we would love to fly the stars and stripes in the pro peloton.

We’ll be going full gas to try and secure the road race title and will be entirely skipping the men’s criterium to do so.”

Men’s roster: Stephen Bassett, Nate Brown, Robin Carpenter, Colin Joyce, Ben King, Gavin Mannion, Kyle Murphy, Emerson Oronte, Joey Rosskopf, Magnus Sheffield, and Keegan Swirbul.

The women’s team looks to duplicate Jade Wilcoxson’s winning performance from 2013.

Women’s roster: Madeline Bemis, Holly Breck, Katie Clouse, Krista Doebel-Hickok, Leigh Ann Ganzar, Heidi Franz, Emma White, and Lily Williams.

Race of truth

World Team Pursuit champ Lily Williams will be joined by teammate Madeline Bemis in their pursuit of the team’s first-ever elite women’s time trial crown while Joey Rosskopf chases his third title alongside Junior World Pursuit king Magnus Sheffield.

Downtown criterium

With the reigning US Pro criterium champ Emma White and her teammate Lily Williams opting to focus on this year’s road race, the women’s team will look to a formidable roster favoring aggressive racing and a reduced group finish. The men’s team will skip the criterium event.

Schedule of events

Thursday, June 17 – Women’s 23.2k time trial starts at 10am ET, followed by Men’s 34.9k time trial. Course is flat and located just outside of Knoxville in nearby Oak Ridge.

Friday, June 18 – The women’s crit has an approximate run-time of 70 minutes, and kicks off 6pm ET. A single lap is just 1.7km long, so fans at the roadside can expect to see the riders a bunch of times.

Sunday, June 20 – Women start at 9am ET, and cover 114.6km. There are no start or finish loops, just one main circuit, which features the race defining Sherrod Rd climb. It’ll be done nine times by the women and 15 by the men. The men’s race follows at 1:15pm and will cover 190.9km. 

The criteriums and road races will be streamed live by FloBikes.