Dygert and Simmons Claim Pro Road National Titles
USA Cycling reports the final day of the 2023 USA Cycling Professional Road National Championships concluded on Sunday with the Women’s and Men’s Road Races. Over 200 participants throughout the day tackled the punchy 6.7-mile course through downtown and southern Knoxville. Chloé Dygert (Brownsburg, Ind.; CANYON//SRAM Racing) doubled up on her win from the Elite Women’s Time Trial on Thursday. She’s the first rider since 2017 to earn both national titles. In the men’s race, Quinn Simmons (Durango, Colo.; Trek-Segafredo) prevailed in challenging weather conditions to win his first Elite National Title.
A beautiful morning greeted the 90 riders of the women’s peloton as they lined up for the 9:00 am EDT start on Gay St. in Knoxville. One lap into the ten-lap race, Holly Breck (Pamona, Calif.; DNA Pro Cycling) attacked, quickly getting to thirty seconds ahead of the main field. Majorie Rinaldo (Tucson, Ariz.; Fount Cycling Guild) and Andrea Buttine (Wilmington, N.C.; Miami Nights) bridged the gap before it was too late, forming a solid lead group. The trio pushed their lead to over two and a half minutes over the field. At the race’s halfway point, the field began to react and reel the leaders back in, chopping away at the time gap with every lap.
The group came back together on the second to last climb up Sherrod Rd. with a significant effort from the EF Education-TIBCO-SVB. As the group reached 45 mph on the descent from Sherrod Rd., Dygert attacked and pushed the peloton to full throttle. Attacks came hot and heavy through the next 10 miles, with the EF Education-TIBCO-SVB squad, Dygert, and CCB p/b LLG all pushing the speed at the front.
Chloé Dygert and Quinn Simmons win the Elite Road Race National Titles on the final day of racing in Knoxville.
— USA Cycling (@usacycling) June 26, 2023
Lauren Stephens (Dallas; EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) attacked on the final climb, trying to leave cull the remaining riders and clear a path to the finish for herself. Dygert, Coryn Labecki (Tustin, Calif.; Team Jumbo-Visma), and Skylar Schneider (West Allis, Wisc.; L39ion of Los Angeles) all responded, forming a powerhouse lead group with six miles remaining. The group was short-lived, as tactics came into play. The lead group was caught by the main group, and from there, it was a constant barrage of attacks. Stephens’ teammates Emma Langley (Richmond, Va.) and Clara Honsinger (Portland, Ore.) were staples at the front for the last 5 miles trying to draw out the race.
The sprint for the finish started with three corners left in the race, and tactics came into play. Dygert said, “The last time I did this race, we were on the old finish, the super steep climb, so this was a new finish for me. I knew the first rider into the [third to last] corner would win. I knew that was going to be my only shot, so I just took off from there and tried to hold them off.”
Dygert, Labecki, Schneider, and Stephens were all in the mix at the finish, pushing themselves to outgun each other. Just edging out the other three, Dygert earned the national title. “I was reading the body language of the girls, and I knew I had it in the end, but I was just waiting for [Coryn] to come up beside me,” said Dygert.
Labecki was second, and Schneider rounded out the podium.
1. Chloé Dygert (Brownsburg, Ind.; CANYON//SRAM Racing)
2. Coryn Labecki (Tustin, Calif.; Team Jumbo-Visma)
3. Skylar Schneider (West Allis, Wisc.; L39ion of Los Angeles)
USA Cycling Pro Road Nationals Video
Within the Elite Women’s race was the U23 competition. Natalie Quinn (Harrisville, Utah.; CCB p/b LLG) fell off the lead group at the end of the elite women’s race but was the first rider aged 19-22 to cross the line.
Talking about her team, Quinn said, “It’s pretty awesome. CCB is, first and foremost, a development team for those of us who came into the sport later in life. It’s really cool to see not just me but my teammates have a really good go of it in the elite field.”
Quinn’s teammate Betty Hasse (Providence, R.I.) won the U23 Women’s Time Trial on Thursday and the silver medal for the U23 Women’s Road Race. Cassidy Hickey (Parker, Colo.; Instafund Racing) earned the bronze.
1. Natalie Quinn (Harrisville, Utah; CCB p/b LLG)
2. Betty Hasse (Providence, R.I.; CCB p/b LLG)
3. Cassidy Hickey (Parker, Colo.; Instafund Racing)
Lightning, heavy rain, and strong winds delayed the start of the Elite Men’s Road Race, pushing it from 1:15 pm to 2:30 pm EDT. Because of the delay, the race was shortened from 17 to 15 laps to ensure a similar finishing time. The field of 119 riders lined up in the steady rain after the worst of the storm passed, eager to compete for the national title.
The weather conditions made for exciting racing, with attacks coming relentlessly. Teams like L39ion of Los Angeles, Aevolo, Human Powered Health, Project Echelon, and more all tried their hand at testing the field to see if a break would stick. Tyler Williams (Santa Rosa, Calif.; L39ion of Los Angeles) attacked at the mid-point of the race, successfully pulling away from the group. Quinn Simmons (Durango, Colo.; Trek-Segafredo) took on the herculean effort of bridging the gap to Williams with seven laps remaining in the race. Once those two connected, they increased their lead to over three minutes.
The field slowly responded, noticing they were in danger of letting the national title go up the road. A chase group of Brandon McNulty(Phoenix; UAE Team Emirates), Colin Joyce (Pocatello, Idaho; Human Powered Health), Tyler Stites (Tucson, Ariz.; Project Echelon), and Riley Sheehan (Boulder, Colo.; Denver Disruptors) pulled away from the peloton, to bridge up to Williams and Simmons.
Learning that the group of four was coming for them, the pair of leaders dug deep to maintain their lead. On the final climb up Sherrod Rd., Simmons attacked Williams and created a 37-second gap, earning himself the stars-and-stripes. He said, “I said to the family yesterday that I wanted to win solo. I didn’t want the race to come down to a sprint finish and leave it up to luck.”
QUINN SIMMONS WINS THE ELITE MEN’S ROAD RACE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!🥇🇺🇸
— USA Cycling (@usacycling) June 25, 2023
Williams pressed on to the finish, taking second after a long day at the front of the race. For third, it came down to a sprint finish between McNulty and Stites. In the end, Stites pipped McNulty on the line.
The long, wet day played a significant factor in the challenge of the race. But perseverance was part of Simmons’ mantra for today, saying, “It was a tough start, but I don’t mind racing in the rain. It’s just part of racing, it makes it more challenging, and the harder the race could be, the better it is for me. We decided flat out, no matter what, I was going to win today. It feels nice to say I’m going to do something and be able to do it. It’s been a while.”
Simmons takes the next several days to recover and travel to France, where he’ll join his Trek-Segafredo teammates for the Tour de France, “It was really important to me to win this race for a number of reasons. For the first time in a long time, the jersey now does a lap of France. I get to wear the nicest jersey in the biggest race in the world.”
1. Quinn Simmons (Durango, Colo.; Trek-Segafredo)
2. Tyler Williams (Santa Rosa, Calif.; L39ion of Los Angeles)
3. Tyler Stites (Tucson, Ariz.; Project Echelon)