August 12, 2005 – With virtually no event-specific training over the course of the last year, Christian Stahl (Bethany, Conn.) clocked a personal best time of 1 minute, 4.242 seconds in the men’s kilometer time trial on Thursday to take both the elite and U23 national titles at day two of the USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships.
The 22-year-old Athens Olympic Team member beat second-place finisher Aaron Kacala (Racine, Wis.) in the day’s penultimate heat by nearly two seconds as Kacala posted a 1:06.180.
“I haven’t trained specifically for the kilo since before the Olympics”, explained Stahl. “My expectations coming in were hopefully a high 1:05. To get a low four, this is my new personal best, so I’m amazed.”
Stahl’s focus heading into nationals wasn’t primarily the kilo, but a familiar training regimen for his chosen specialty paid off. “What I’ve been training for is mainly the keirin”, said Stahl. “The training isn’t too different for a third lap in the kilo so it translates pretty well.”
Although Stahl just missed the 1:04.130 automatic time standard, he still gains entry into USA Cycling’s Talent Pool by virtue of his victory, making him eligible for international competition for the 2005-06 track season.
After a third-place finish earlier in the evening in the men’s 30km points race, Brad Huff (Fair Grove, Mo.) took his second bronze medal of the night in the kilo. In the opening heat, Huff set the bar high with a 1:06.907, a benchmark that held strong until Huff and Kacala both eclipsed it in the 17th heat of the evening.
Huff’s pair of third-place efforts on Thursday gives him two more medals to go with his national title in the individual pursuit on Wednesday.
Bobby Lea (Mertztown, Pa.) rode to dual national championships in the men’s points race, also capturing elite and U23 titles. Early in the race, the 21-year-old Lea was one of six riders to lap the balance of the 24-rider field as Chad Hartley (Boulder, Colo.), Curtis Gunn (Tucson, Ariz.), John Walsh (Westchester, Calif.), Dan Vogt (Corona del Mar, Calif.) and Huff also notched the 20-point reward credited to riders who take a lap on the field.
Entering the race, Lea’s Northwestern Mortgage squad and Hartley’s TIAA-CREF team each had four riders on the track, giving them a numerical advantage over some of the smaller outfits and individual riders like Huff.
Once the group of six secured their one-lap advantage on the field, Lea kept the pressure on. As the most consistent sprinter of the group, Lea scored additional points in seven of the 12 intermediate sprints, including three five-point efforts as the first rider across the line.
With a 37-33 point lead over Hartley and only the final sprint remaining, it was Lea’s race to lose, only having to stay on Hartley’s wheel to secure the win. Lea chose to put an emphatic stamp on the win however, winning the final dash to the line in front of Hartley to solidify a 42-36 point win.
Afterwards, Lea credited his team for his individual laurels. “I was surprised I won, but it was a team effort and I had my whole team, Mike Friedman, Jame (Carney), and Elliott Gaunt. I’m the one that stood up there and got the jersey, but they’re the ones who won the race for me. We knew it was going to be a battle between us and TIAA-CREF, but we also knew Brad would be in there. We didn’t go in with a designated race leader but we had a plan, and with 80 laps to go it was pretty clear what the situation was. We had to change the tactics a little, but those guys made the race easy for me.”
Behind, Huff and Gunn each finished with 35 points, but Huff’s better final-sprint placing was the deciding tiebreaker.
Lea’s dual titles in the points race give him three national championships thus far after a second-place effort in the individual pursuit yielded a U23 stars and stripes jersey.
In women’s action on Thursday, Jennie Reed (Kirkland, Wash.) and Becky Quinn (Quakertown, Pa.) also captured wins in the sprint and 10km scratch race respectively.
Reed had a relatively easy path to victory after setting the fastest qualifying time of the day. With an 11.829-second run in the 200m qualifier, Reed was the only rider to ride under 12 seconds on her way to securing the top seed.
In the ensuing quarterfinal, Reed ousted Jen Featheringill (Portland, Ore.) to set up a semifinal match against Martha Dunne (Coronado, Calif.). In the semifinal, Reed swept the first two heats against Dunne while 17-year-old newcomer Shelby Allen (Cerritos, Calif.) beat Heather Vanvalkenburg (Vancouver, Wash.) in two straight rides in the other semifinal to advance to the final against Reed.
In the final, Reed swept the first two rides to take the title over Allen while Vanvalkenburg took two out of three against Dunne for the bronze.
For the final podium spot, Featheringill took the win in the four-up sprint for 5-8 place.
The women’s scratch race featured a competitive field that included defending champ Quinn, pursuit winner Sarah Hammer (Temecula, Calif.), Erin Mirabella (La Habra, Calif.), and a smattering of road riders like Tina Pic (Dahlonega, Ga.), Lara Kroepsch (Boulder, Colo.), Kori Seehafer (Louisville, Colo.) and Lauren Franges (Barto, Pa.).
Quinn used a well-timed final-lap sprint to edge Hammer at the line after an aggressive race saw lengthy solo breaks by both T-Mobile riders Seehafer and Kroepsch.
Midway through the race, Kropesch instigated the most notable move of the evening launching a counterattack after an effort by Mirabella, Franges and Quinn was shut down. With only seven laps remaining in the 40-lap event, Kroepsch had mounted a half-lap lead that appeared insurmountable, but the speed and experience in the group behind managed to pull Kroepsch back with just a couple of laps left.
On the final lap, Hammer was on the front leading out the final sprint, but Quinn perfectly timed her kick to just edge Hammer at the line for the win.
The 2005 USA Cycling Elite National Track Championships continue on Friday with finals in the men’s team pursuit and sprint and the women’s 500 meter time trial and points race.