The 2008 USA Cycling Junior, U23, and Elite Road National Championships continued on Friday with the women's combined U23 and elite road race, as well as the women's junior 17-18 event. In the elite contest, Brooke Miller outsprinted Tina Pic and Katharine Carroll at the line after 123 kilometers on a circuit course that included four laps. Miller was a USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Champion in 2005, but this marks her first elite title.
Beginning with the second lap, a variety of riders attempted attacks, but all were short-lived as the 94-woman field countered repeatedly to bring things back together. Miller said her team would have been happy with the right break.
"We had three good cards to play on this course," she explained, referring to her Team Tibco teammates. "Lauren [Franges] and Amber [Rais] would have been great on a break. We were really hoping to get the right combo of riders, but everyone was really looking at each other today. We were missing a few key riders. A lot of teams were a little thin today, so no one really wanted to burn too many matches."
In the final lap, just before the second of two 180-degree turns at mile 71, defending champion, Mara Abbott attacked, causing a large separation of the field when roughly 20 riders managed to stay with her, gapping the rest of the pack. The break stayed away and came together to the bottom of a final climb to the finish.
Miller said that when she realized it was going to come down to a sprint, she intended to "be really patient" and wait to jump until about 100 meters. "With a hill like that you really have to be patient. But Mara attacked the hill, and she's a great climber. She was going hard and it put me in a bad position. It forced me to jump early."
Miller jumped at the 250-meter mark and knew she had to commit herself to a long sprint. As the pack blew apart, she heard Pic, five-time national criterium champion, coming up on her side. "I thought she was going to get me. She's got such phenomenal speed, but fortunately I was able to hold her off."
As the highest-placed U23 rider in the elite race, Kacey Manderfield was crowned U23 National Champion.
The junior women's 17-18 road race was contested on the same course with just 2.5 laps for a total of 75 kilometers. In another uphill sprint, 17-year-old Anna Young took the win just ahead of Jacqueline Kurth and Antonia Musto.
The field of 20 younger women - all but four of whom had no teammates - stayed together the majority of the race without any significant breaks developing. Young said the laps "were sort of slow, but we definitely had some good attacks coming. People were just trying to position themselves and figure where everyone else sat. There were some really strong attacks that came on the hills, and I just tried to stay with them."
With just less than 10 kilometers to the finish, Young attacked and was off the front for a short time, but no one came with her. She sat up, returning to the pack, and then Musto attacked. "She was on the front a ton [during the race]. She was really strong," Young said.
The group chased, keeping Musto from gaining anything more than a five-second gap, and coming into the turn to the final climb, Young knew she had to go. "She didn't have that much of a gap, but it was a little bit, and I thought it was now or never. I jumped on my own and I just kept going. I figured, why not?"
In just her second year racing on the road, Musto took third in Thursday's criterium. She is also the reigning junior women's 17-18 cyclo-cross national champion, having earned that title in December at the end of her first year racing in that discipline.
2008 USA Cycling Junior, U23 and Elite Road National Championships
Orange County, California: August 6-10
Elite Women's Road Race
1. Brooke Miller (Los Altos, Calif.) 3:20:05.7
2. Tina Pic (Buford, Ga.) s.t.
3. Katharine Carroll (Sausalito, Calif.) s.t.
U23 Women's Road Race
1. Kacey Manderfield (Breinigsville, Penn.) 3:20:10.1
2. Lindsay Myers (Paradise, Calif.) +0.23.6
3. Amy Dombroski (Boulder, Colo.) +0.24.9
Junior Women's 17-18 Road Race
1. Anna Young (Madison, Wis.) 2:34:15
2. Jacqueline Kurth (Palm City, Flor.) s.t.
3. Antonia Musto (Ada, Mich.) +0.04
For complete results and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.
© BikeRadar & USA Cycling 2008