Photo: Jonathan Devich epiciomages.us
Team SmartStop have defied the odds finishing first and second at the USA Pro Road Race National Championships.
In an incredible day racing in Chattanooga, Team SmartStop played the race to perfection during the 165.5km to bring Eric Marcotte. Travis McCabe and Julian Kyer home in first, second and fifth respectively.
“We won the national championships!” said Director Michael Creed, “they were saying 115, 115, 115, we knew it was Travis, and I had to turn off the tour tracker and then the radio kept saying 114 and it took us a minute to register that it was one of our guys.”
The win has not yet sunk in for Eric yet and he is very humble about the result: “No it really hasn’t sunk in, its pretty crazy, its surreal because there are plenty of other riders on this team that can go further in their career with this jersey than myself, and I’m not limiting myself but obviously things happen for a reason and hopefully people can take something from this.”
Photo: Jonathan Devich epiciomages.us
“I really want Travis, Josh Julian, Cameron and everyone on the team to continue going further with this. Hopefully this means bigger and better things for the team and everyone involved in it.”
“We played our cards.”
Eric and Julian started their national champions attack on the first lap when moves started going and one they found themselves in a ten-man break that stuck for the majority of the race.
“It happened on the opening lap going across the second bridge, there were a few half hearted accelerations, Eric was up there and someone towed me across to them. All of a sudden there was ten of us and we were rolling,” explained Julian.
“We were getting time gaps of 30 seconds and then all of a sudden it was a five minutes. When I went with the move I had a voice in my head that said ‘go’ and I rolled up there.”
Michael played a crucial role in keeping the guys heads in the game continuously giving Eric and Julian updates of what was happening behind them. “Mike kept telling us the situation and it was mayhem in the field,” said Julian.
Up Lookout Mountain for the final time, Julian, Ben King, Chris Jones and James Stemper broke away from the other breakaway riders and took to the decent in the lead. Eric bridge across to the group of four as they entered the final finishing circuits.
“Mike had been saying ‘this is probably going to be it. Race with the expectation that one of you is going to win’ so that is how we rode,” said Julian, “we stayed hydrated, kept ourselves cool, a few guys bridged up to us after the big circuits.
“I saw Eric hit up the Kent St climb once with a lot of snap like it was nothing. I asked him what he though and he looked at me and it was just YES, do you want me to ride for you? I asked, YES.”
The final couple of kilometers were crucial for the race as Eric explains: “At 1.5km to go behind me was Jacob Rathe, I knew he had some legs on him and I was kind of worried about him because he hadn’t been doing a lot of work. Then somebody attacked and I jumped on the wheel and as we came into the chicane I just went 100% for it and wanted to be first through the corner. I knew Travis was tired and I love the kid but I didn’t want to leave anything to chance.”
And with that he crossed the line first, with his friend, teammate and fellow Arizonian not far behind him in second. Julian was also up there in the sprint finish in an almost photo finish in fifth.
“I was falling apart, once feeding closed I started to get really hot and had to meter my effort and be careful about going to the red,” said Julian, “I knew they were in the perfect spot for the lead out and I knew Alex was a great wheel to follow, he’s a safe bet and I stuck on his wheel. Well you’ve come this far you might as well try for a result.”
Michael has full faith in the team throughout the past two weeks that the team had the talent to take out the national championships: “I thought winning the national championships was possible, but a lot of things had to go our way, by no way did I think it was a pipe dream, going first and second I never would have through that.”
“Amazing, superb, we came up with a plan last night and we literally it went exactly as we said, the only difference was McCabe changed roles with Marcotte, other then that everything went to plan.”