National championships week concludes this weekend with the elite men’s and women’s road races.
With chances for success, medals, and podium finishes, the team has its eyes on multiple opportunities to once more come away from the races clad in the coveted colors of the riders’ respective nations. A prestigious entry on any rider’s palmarès, here’s an in-depth look into the weekend’s ‘Nats’ action.
Celtics, Lakers, Bulls, every dynasty has a three-peat and after the back-to-back victories in 2021 and 2022 from Joey Rosskopf and Kyle Murphy respectively, that’s exactly what Human Powered Health aims to do once more in Knoxville, Tennessee on Sunday.
The US Pro road race has been held on the Knoxville course since 2017 and in that time, Human Powered Health has been one of its most successful teams. As well as the victories for Murphy and Rosskopf, Emma White won bronze in 2018 and 2019, with Robin Carpenter on the second step of the podium in 2018.
The man who stood in his position a year later was local rider Stephen Bassett, then riding for 1First Internet Bank. An athlete who was molded by the local roads surrounding his home city, this national championship is truly a homecoming for the 28-year-old. He missed out last year through injury.
“I’m keen on being back at nationals after a year layoff,” he said ahead of the weekend. “That 2019 podium is my best memory of the race. I went in under the radar and everything went picture-perfect until the last twelve seconds when Alex Howes came past me.”
At 201km with 3,306m of climbing, the race is once again shaping up to be a battle of attrition.
“The race is all about the Sherrod road climb in terms of horsepower,” Bassett explains. “The following flat sections are where teamwork and tactics can really influence the race. It takes a really good crack at the hill to find enough separation to stick given that flat part.
With a large American contingent in the past, Human Powered Health have been able to overwhelm the opposition through strength of numbers. However, in 2023 with a smaller squad, the team will have to be cannier, especially when facing the prospect of ex-rider Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates), fast-finishers Luke Lamperti (Trinity Racing) and Tyler Stites (Project Echelon Racing), and Joe Martin Stage Race victor Riley Sheehan (Denver Disruptors), all of whom enter the race in fighting form.
“It’ll certainly force us to be more selective in our early efforts and focus on tagging the moves that matter,” Bassett says. “It’s easy to overextend at the start and have to pay the price during the latter stages.”
Another rider heading to Knoxville is Scott McGill. Tenth in 2021, the 24-year-old has returned from a testing start to the season that was plagued by illness and then made worse when he was hit by a car while training in Girona. He raced back into form during a recent block in Belgium.
The rider from Fallston, Maryland says that he is, “feeling good, relaxed and motivated to race in the States and see family and friends again.”
“Our objective is to win the race as a team and ride as one,” he adds.
As well as riding his first championships as part of Human Powered Health, McGill will also sport a new, shorter haircut he picked up on the eve of the Baloise Belgium Tour thanks to teammates and apparent amateur barbers Wessel Krul, Gijs Van Hoecke and Matt Gibson.
“My haircut is the optimal blend of thermodynamics and style to intimidate my competition,” he jokes. “Honestly, it was all going well until Matt took a turn and shaved a line down the side of my head.”
See the guys’ handiwork for yourself and follow the quest for the three-peat with the USA Cycling Pro Road Nationals being shown live on FloBikes.
Road race women, June 25 | Knoxville, TN (109.4km) Hilly
Road race men, June 25 | Knoxville, TN (186.1km) Hilly
Across the northern border, Human Powered Health also returns to Edmonton, Alberta as defending champions. Last year’s winner, Pier-André Coté, and Panamerican bronze medallist, Charles-Étienne Chrétien, are joined by 2019 Canadian champion Adam de Vos, plus Ben Perry who placed third last year.
One of the winningest teams in the race, Coté, de Vos, Matteo Dal-Cin, Katherine Maine, Allison Beveridge, Leah Kirchmann, Joëlle Numainville and Denise Ramsden, have all donned the maple leaf jersey while riding for the team.
The Edmonton course will favor defending champion Coté. One of his chief lieutenants will be de Vos, who captured the title four years ago in Saint Georges, Quebec.
“It’s going to be a fun weekend racing back in Canada,” said the 29-year-old. “It’s so special for anyone to win. I don’t think it really matters which country it is because it’s such a special thing to wear that jersey for a year.”
Once a champion, always a champion with a rider holding the stripes on the sleeves of their jersey throughout their career.
“That’s something that is on every rider’s bucket list,” he adds. “It’s such a unique part of cycling. We’ve had a lot of success here and now we have so many different nationalities in the team, it’s going to be very exciting to have everyone racing at home and hopefully we can come away with as many titles as possible.”
Road race men, June 25 | Edmonton, Alberta (216km) Hilly
Adam de Vos
Rest of the world
As well as North America, Human Powered Health Cycling athletes are also competing in Asia and across Europe.
Starting in Japan, Eri Yonamine returns home looking to win road title number six to take her overall tally to twelve. A route entirely enclosed inside the Izu Cycle Centre – the host of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games cycling events – Yonamine will hope her experience counts on her quest for gold.
Back in Europe, having scored the silver medal earlier in the week in the time trial, Audrey Cordon-Ragot will mount a defense of her French national title on a challenging course around Cassel.
Cordon-Ragot enters the race as one of the favorites, but time trial champion Cédrine Kerbaol (CERATIZIT-WNT Pro Cycling) and Gladys Verhulst (FDJ – SUEZ) will be the riders to beat.
The mountains are calling at numerous championships, most notably in Italy, where Barbara Malcotti competes and Sebastian Schönberger’s Austria. But, flat races can also be found in the form of the Belgian, German and Hungarian championships, the latter where Barnabás Peák is a hot favorite, as one of a handful of WorldTour/ProTour riders.
These races more often than not suit the all-rounder types who aren’t afraid to climb. Alice Barnes, Matt Gibson and Paul Double will hope they’ve packed their climbing legs on the way to North Yorkshire as the men’s race has a cumulative elevation of 4,000 meters with the women climbing more than 2,000 meters.
After the United States, the largest contingent of riders can be found in the Netherlands. Departing from its usual parcours around the Vam-berg – which will instead host the European road race championships this August – five athletes will compete on the hilly course in Sittard.
The profile bears a resemblance to the Amstel Gold Race and even uses some of the same roads as that famous classic. Add the likes of Demi Vollering, Annemiek van Vleuten, Lorena Wiebes, Mathieu van der Poel and Bauke Mollema to that mix and you have quite possibly the most competitive championship in the world.
Finally, perhaps Human Powered Health Cycling’s strongest chance for double success comes in the Polish men’s and women’s road race. Run on a pan-flat course, it favors the teams fast-finishing in-form sprinters Daria Pikulik and Stanisław Aniołkowski.
Aniołkowski has the benefit of teammate Alan Banaszek to help battle the combined might of Polish continental teams HRE Mazowsze Serce Polski and the Voster ATS Team, but Pikulik will have to use all of her track craft as the marked favorite. Marta Lach (CERATIZIT-WNT Pro Cycling), Agnieszka Skalniak-Sójka (Canyon//SRAM Racing) and the numbers of the MAT Atom Deweloper Wrocław team, including her sister and defending champion Wiktoria Pikulik, will be her toughest opponents.
🇦🇹 Austria, June 25 | Waidhofen an der Ybbs – Hollenstein an der Ybbs (182.6km) Mountainous, uphill finish
🇧🇪 Belgium, June 25 | Izegem (230.7km) Flat
Gijs Van Hoecke
🇫🇷 France, June 24 | Hazebrouck – Cassel (99.8km) Hilly, cobbles, uphill finish
🇩🇪 Germany, June 24 | Donaueschingen – Bad Dürrheim (135km)
🇬🇧 Great Britain, women, June 25 | Saltburn-by-the-Sea (132km) Hilly
🇬🇧 Great Britain, men, June 25 | Saltburn-by-the-Sea (189km) Hilly
🇭🇺 Hungary, June 25 | Pannonhalma (170km) Flat
🇮🇹 Italy, June 25 | Comano Terme (147km) Hilly
🇯🇵 Japan, June 24 | Izu Cycle Centre, Ono (88km) Flat
🇳🇱 Netherlands, women, June 24 | Sittard (153.1km) Hilly
Marjolein van’t Geloof
🇳🇱 Netherlands, men, June 25 | Sittard (220.4km) Hilly
🇳🇴 Norway, June 25 | Sandnes (108km) Hilly
🇵🇱 Poland, women, June 25 | Ostrołęka (138km) Flat
🇵🇱 Poland, men, June 25 | Ostrołęka (138km) Flat