Alex Howes of the Felt-Holowesko Partners team sprinted to the Under-23 Men’s National Road Championship in Bend, Oregon, on Wednesday. Howes won the tough 162-kilometer race on a scorching day with temperatures topping 100 degrees.
Howes’ teammates Peter Salon and Peter Stetina finished fourth and fifth, giving Felt three top-five finishes for the day.
The selective course took its toll on the 119 riders in the field, causing race officials to cut the contest to six laps of the 27-kilometer loop instead of the seven that were originally planned. As a lead group of 12 riders that included Howes and Salon hit the sixth lap and final lap, Ben King (Trek-Livestrong) attacked and it was only Howes, Salon and Scott Stewart (Team Waste Management) who followed.
The final lap saw several attacks and counter attacks among the four riders on the climbs, but they regrouped on the final descent into the start/finish area. Howes attacked once, was caught, and then unleashed a devastating sprint to take the national title.
“I was cramping pretty hard and they brought me back,” explained Howes on his attack before the final sprint. “I was shaking in my boots at the end there.”
After that final attack, Howes lead the sprint from a long way out.
“I was pretty scared,” said the new national champion from Boulder, Colorado. “But there was a national championship on the line, so I wasn’t going to let anyone come around me.”
Salon finished fourth in the sprint and Stetina was fifth, completing a triumphant day for the Felt-sponsored team.
2009 USA Cycling U23 Men’s Elite Road National Championships
Bend, Ore.?July 28-Aug. 2, 2009
1. Alex Howes (Boulder, Colo./Felt/Holowesko Partners/Garmin)
2. Scott Stewart (Oxford, Mich./Team Waste Management)
3. Ben King (North Garden, Va./Trek-Livestrong)
4. Peter Salon (Brooklyn, NY/Felt/Holowesko Partners/Garmin)
5. Peter Stetina (Boulder, Colo./Felt/Holowesko Partners/Garmin)