Thomas, Ta-Perez, and Craddock Earn First Titles of U.S. Pro in Knoxville
June 23, 2022
Thomas wins first-ever championship with Craddock defending his jersey.
June 23, 2022 KNOXVILLE, Tenn. /ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – The first day of the 2022 USA Cycling Professional Road National Championships kicked off on Thursday with the time trial events at Melton Lake Park in Oak Ridge, Tenn. A mild morning gave way to hotter temperatures in the afternoon, with riders scorching the course all day long. Leah Thomas (Santa Clara, Calif.; Trek-Segafredo), Zoe Ta-Perez (Orange, Calif., LUX-CTS p/b Specialized), and Lawson Craddock (Houston; Team BikeExchange-Jayco) all claimed top honors earning the Elite Women’s, U23 Women’s, and Elite Men’s titles, respectively.
Twenty-six women started in Melton Lake Park, tackling two laps of the 11.6-kilometer course. Second to last leaving the start house, Thomas proved she was the fastest on the day for the women claiming the fastest time at the intermediate split. She would finish the race in a time of 29:38.21, bettering the time from last year’s winner on the same course by over 30 seconds. Tokyo Olympian Amber Neben (Irvine, Calif.; Cogeas Mettler Look Pro Cycling) finished second, stopping the clock at 30:22.63. Ta-Perez took the final step of the Elite Women’s podium, claiming her first medal at the elite level.
This win was Thomas’ first stars-and-stripes jersey of her career. “It feels really great. I’ve worked hard at time trials. I’ve finished third here many, many times in a row and haven’t quite gotten it together. It’s been a tough spring, and I’ve been through a lot to get here. I’m proud I was able to put it together”, said Thomas. Her next event will be the Giro d’Italia Donne, starting Thursday, June 30, 2022.
1. Leah Thomas (Santa Clara, Calif.; Trek-Segafredo) 29:38.21
2. Amber Neben (Irvine, Calif.; Cogeas Mettler Look Pro Cycling) 30:22.63
3. Zoe Ta-Perez (Orange, Calif., LUX-CTS p/b Specialized) 31:30.77
Part of the Elite Women’s race, riders aged 19-22 are also eligible for the U23 Women’s title. Former Junior World Champion on the track, Ta-Perez, was the fastest member of the group with a time of 31:30.77 and earned the stars-and-stripes for the U23 Women in addition to her Elite Women’s bronze. LUX-CTS p/b Specialized teammate, Olivia Cummins (Fort Collins, Colo.), raced her way to silver in the group. Betty Hasse (Providence, R.I., Levine Law Group – CCB) rounded out the podium.
Earning her first elite medal, Ta-Perez said, “It feels amazing. I mean, my only goal really was to just focus on the execution today, and it’s amazing when it goes to plan!”
1. Zoe Ta-Perez (Orange, Calif., LUX-CTS p/b Specialized) 31:30.77
2. Olivia Cummins (Fort Collins, Colo., LUX-CTS p/b Specialized) 33:29.92
3. Betty Hasse (Providence, R.I., Levine Law Group – CCB) 34:44.95
Capping off the day, the Elite Men saw 36 riders try to beat the clock in the race for time. Defending national champion Craddock proved victorious again, stopping the clock in a time of 40:39.92, bettering his time from the 2021 event by over one minute. Magnus Sheffield (Pittsford, N.Y.; Ineos Grenadiers) took home the silver medal, posting his time of 40:43.24, just three seconds from Craddock. The race leader for the majority of the men’s competition, George Simpson (Fort Collins, Colo., Project Echelon Racing), eventually took home the bronze with his time of 42:27.45.
Defending his title is something Craddock has looked forward to. “It’s a great environment here in Knoxville, and I’m always happy to come back. Any chance you get to race back in the states for us is really important.” Going up against Sheffield, Craddock knew he would be in for a challenge. “Basically, from the first pedal stroke, I knew it was going to be a tough fight to win today, but I had a really good run and a really great team behind me with Team BikeExchange-Jayco and also with my family here supporting me and for taking care of me the last couple of days. It’s a special opportunity to wear the stars and stripes, so I am really happy to defend the jersey, but I am looking forward to racing the Road Race on Sunday, too.”
Sheffield made his elite national championship debut this weekend at the age of 20. “I was really happy. I’ve made big improvements over last year, and it’s been a step up. Obviously, I came here to win, but it was a lot of big travel getting here. I am really lucky my team agreed to support me in coming here. It was really special getting to come back to the U.S. to race. We don’t get to do that much anymore, so it’s been nice getting to enjoy time with my family.”
1. Lawson Craddock (Houston; Team BikeExchange-Jayco) 40:39.92
2. Magnus Sheffield (Pittsford, N.Y.; Ineos Grenadiers) 40:43.24
3. George Simpson (Fort Collins, Colo., Project Echelon Racing) 42:27.45
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ABOUT USA CYCLING (usacycling.org)
USA Cycling is the national governing body for the sport of cycling and oversees the disciplines of road, track, mountain bike, cyclocross, and BMX. USA Cycling’s mission is to champion accessibility, participation, and excellence in the sport of cycling to make more Americans healthier, happier, and better on two wheels while achieving sustained international racing success. USA Cycling supports cyclists at all levels, from those just beginning in the sport and participating in fun rides to international caliber racers. The organization identifies, develops, and selects cyclists to represent the United States in international competition through the support of kids’ and interscholastic programs, amateur bike racing and grassroots development programs, and the provision of critical infrastructure to run organized racing. USA Cycling has a membership of 100,000, annually sanctions over 2,500 events, and is a proud member of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).