Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Strong Showing by Bookwalter and Howes as Road Worlds Conclude

Brent Bookwalter (r) and Alex Howes both finished the men's road race within 14 seconds of the winning time.
Brent Bookwalter (r) and Alex Howes both finished the men's road race within 14 seconds of the winning time. (photo by Casey B. Gibson)

Ponferrada, Spain (September 28, 2014) -- The 2014 UCI Road World Championships concluded on Sunday in Ponferrada, Spain, with the 254.8-kilometer elite men's road race on a day that included on-and-off rain during the more than six-hour race. In the end it was Brent Bookwalter (Asheville, N.C./BMC Racing Team) and Alex Howes (Boulder, Colo./Garmin-Sharp) both finishing within 14 seconds of the winning time in 25th and 30th, respectively, for the United States squad.

An early four-rider break that included Ukraine's Oleksandr Polivoda, Croatia's Matija Kvasina, Lithuania's Zydrunas Savickas and Colombia's Carlos Julian Quintero built up a 15-minute advantage on the peloton after four of the 14 laps, but the gap began to come back down as the team from Poland pushed the pace behind.

When the four leaders were caught with just over three laps to go, only Bookwalter and Howes remained in the race for the U.S. squad. Howes had recovered from a brief crash to catch back on to the main field.

"It was a tricky course with some really nasty downhills," said Howes. "I was feeling pretty good up until a little fall with like four to go or so. I had to do some chasing but the boys helped me out, helped get me back up there."

"We had four guys that we wanted to get into the race as deep as possible and see where it shuffled out," Bookwalter said. "None of us are really proven at this level at 250k, but I think we're all getting better each year. I thought the race was really hard. We were down to only a couple guys with a few laps to go so Alex and I were just trying to hang tough. I think he was actually probably better than me, and then he was unfortunately caught up in that little bit of a crash so that took a lot of energy out of him."

The decisive break in the final lap was made by Poland's Michal Kwiatkowski, and he managed to stave off the hard-charging field and claim the rainbow jersey ahead of Australia's Simon Gerrans and Spain's Alejandro Valverde. Bookwalter was in a group just seven seconds behind Kwiatkowski, with Howes coming in 14 seconds off the winning time.

"I felt like I had one speed I could peg it at basically threshold the whole time and guys would attack and kind of come back, and guys would move up the field and come back, and I was just grinding along at the same speed," Bookwalter said. "It wasn't quite enough to get into position to go for a top 10 or a good result, but I gave it everything I had all the way to the very last meter."

Bookwalter also noted the effort needed for a race like the world championships.

"It was just fast the whole day. It definitely ramped up at the end but not as much as some of the other worlds that I've done in the past. This one was just fast and hard all day. Those guys obviously had an unbelievable acceleration at the end. We were so deep into the race and everyone was so tired. That's one of the things that make these one-day races so beautiful and dramatic is it really takes every last ounce out of you."

With the World Championships returning to U.S. soil for the first time in 29 years next year in Richmond, Va., Bookwalter spoke about the inspiration that will give to the American riders.

"We're really inspired to have a chance to race Worlds in Richmond next year," he said. "We have a great group of guys here and a few guys that aren't here. We've been kind of building up to this for a long time with this group of guys, this generation, and we're really excited to put on a good showing in Richmond."

The U.S. team wraps up the world championships with four medals in the team time trials and two more in the individual time trial, including a silver medal by Adrien Costa (Los Altos, Calif./Hagens Berman U23) in the juniors men's time trial, and a bronze medal by Evelyn Stevens (Dennis, Mass./Specialized-lululemon) in the elite women's time trial.

In the team time trial competition, Tejay van Garderen (Boulder, Colo./BMC Racing Team), Carmen Small (Durango, Colo./Specialized-lululemon) and Evelyn Stevens (Dennis, Mass./Specialized-lululemon) each won gold medals racing with their trade teams, while Alison Tetrick (Mill Valley, Calif.) earned a bronze medal with her Astana BePink Women's Team.

Other top-10 performances by the U.S. during the week included fifth-place efforts from Zeke Mostov (San Francisco, Calif./Hagens Berman U23) and Emma White (Delanson, N.Y./Hot Tubes Junior Development Team) in their respective juniors time trials, a sixth-place finish by Shelley Olds (Gilroy, Calif./Ale-Cipollini) in the elite women's road race, and an eighth place by Alison Powers (Pinecliffe, Colo./UnitedHealthcare) in the elite women's time trial.

2014 UCI Road World Championships
Ponferrada, Spain
Sept. 21-28, 2014

Article Source: USA Cycling

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