Cyniscas and the rest of the world of professional cycling wrapped up June with National Championship races. The month was one of firsts with many of the Cyniscas competing in their first national championships or even first time trials.
After Nationals, the US-based staff and most of the riders made the transfer back to the EU for the team’s next racing block and mid-season camp. It was a big pull getting all the vehicles and equipment to Berlin in a day, but the US staff on the ground handled it without a hitch. The riders flew straight into Berlin with two days to get adjusted before the race.
Mt. Evans Hill Climb – July 8
Prior to heading to Europe, Ashley got in a little altitude training in Colorado. In the process, she also crushed the Mount Evans Hill Climb in the women’s Pro/1/2 challenge.
This epic climb takes place on the highest paved road in the United States. It’s a 7,000′ climb from an elevation of 7,500′ all the way up to 14,130 feet (27.4 miles). Most of us get light-headed just thinking about that. Congratulations to Ashley!
Tour of Berlin – July 1 & 2
The German capital city hosted its inaugural Tour of Berlin Feminin with two races July 1 & 2. Saturday was a “warm up” race, great for shaking out the cobwebs before the feature UCI race on Sunday. Huge fields contended these races, and both were flat and fast.
Saturday, the riders raced with some of the iconic scenes in Berlin as their backdrop. There was a small break off the front that held seven seconds to the finish. The Cyniscas contested the field sprint but seemed like they were a little jet lagged and not as aggressive as the team had hoped. Katia was our top rider coming in 35th.
Sunday’s UCI race was also flat and fast, but Cynisca had a lot of solid teamwork being done by Claire, Cara, Anna and Chloe to get Katia in good position for the finish. The race was more aggressive and larger with 140-plus contenders than many of the Cyniscas have previously experienced. Joe Holmes, the Cynisca race sports director, reported that the team raced well and was in good position for the majority of the race. Claire dropped Katia off in great position with 1k to go for the sprint. This showed huge improvement for Claire and her positioning. Katia put up a good sprint, finishing 16th, which was respectable for her first EU bunch kick. The rest of the riders finished mid-pack in the field sprint. Overall it was a good race even though some of our riders were still struggling with jet lag and adjusting to the speed and roughness of the pack.
USA National Championships – June 22-25, Knoxville, Tennessee
Jess in the ITT – June 22
Jess Cygan jumped into the USA National individual time trial championship race eager for one thing – a great learning experience. This was her first ITT and her first time on a time trial bike. The field of 27 women competed in the rain across two circuits of the 11.6km flat course as the rain fell all morning to dampen roads and some spirits. But not Jess’s. She finished 17th with a smile on her face and ready for her next race. Not surprisingly, Chloe Dygert, arguably the best time trialist in the world, finished first.
US Criterium Championship – June 23
Cynisca’s hopes for a U23 podium for Katia in the criterium were upended by a summer virus. Despite being ill, Katia still toed the start line and finished 16th overall with Claire close behind her.
The 70 minute women’s criterium course in downtown Knoxville looped a 1.7km (1.1 mile) route with its signature start/finish on Gay Street. The unique course forces a race for positioning on the climb onto Clinch Avenue with a right, then left, then a final left-hand turn to onto a downhill finish on Gay Street. UCI-World Tour – Jumbo-Visma’s Coryn Labecki went over the top of the L39ION of Los Angles train on the climb, and on the second to final corner, Labecki was still at the front on the downhill finish straight. Labecki took the title in the sprint finish, followed by last year’s champion, L39ION’s Kendall Ryan.
US Road Race Championship – June 25
Road Race – June 25 – 109.4 km
This was the sixth time Knoxville hosted the US National road race, but the first road race championships for most of the Cyniscas. The elite cyclists raced 68 miles (109.4km) for 10-laps on a challenging 6.8-mile circuit. The race started in downtown Knoxville and headed across the Tennessee River to the signature climb of Sherrod Road. After a pass through East Knoxville on an out-and-back section of James White Parkway, they returned back downtown via Historic Preservation Drive to the three corners on Church Avenue and up a steep Clinch Avenue to the finish on Gay Street.
90 riders took the start, and 47 would finish. In the final lap, a group of 21 riders headed over the final pass of the Sherrod Road climb. Four riders pulled ahead on the climb, but struggled to work together. A group of 14 riders, including Anna and Ashley, came back together with three miles to go. In the end, it was the experienced Chloe Dygert, Coryn Labecki and Skylar Schneider to take the podium. Cyniscas Anna took 8th and Ashley 12th in their first ever national championships. Cara and Claire finished a few minutes back with the remainder of the peloton. Katia and Jess, both battling a summer virus, did not finish this tough race.
French National Championships – June 22-24, Hazebrouck, France
The 2023 French National Championships took place in northernmost region of France, just across the border from Flanders in Belgium. Chloé Fourmigué-Villacampa competed in both the women’s ITT and the road race. Pauline Allin and Greta Richioud competed in the road race.
The parcours for the ITT and the road race had some similarities; both started in Hazebrouck and finished in Cassel. Both included a narrow and steep 1.4 kilometer climb towards the finish line in Cassel which averaged 6.7 % and topped out at 17 %. For the ITT, the route was a lumpy course of 31.4 kilometres with 358 m of elevation. For the road race, the parcours was also a lumpy, technical route. After riding 10 k from Hazebrouck, riders entered a 13k circuit which included 2k of cobbles and 258 m of elevation for every lap.
Chloé in the ITT – 31.3 km
For the ITT, Chloé aimed to improve on her personal best of 19th in last year’s ITT. Her start was strong, skillfully maneuvering her bike through the narrow streets and corners of Hazebrouck. The longer sections between Hazebrouck and Cassel proved challenging, with several uphill drags and a headwind. At the third time check, she was on course for her goal, placing 18th on the live rankings. Unfortunately, she caught the barrier on a challenging downhill corner into the final climb. Fortunately, she staye upright and was not injured, but this resulted in her losing the gained time. After summiting the brutal climb to the line, Chloé finished with a respectable 20th position.
French National Road Race
125 riders lined up to tackle the women’s elite road race for the French national championships. There was only 5 kilometers of racing before riders entered the race circuit at Cassel. The brutal profile of the circuit, which included a 1.8k cobbled climb, meant that the bunch was quickly torn apart.
Pauline, Greta and Chloé fought hard to stay in the competition but, like most riders during the day, they were eventually distanced from the handful of world tour riders who led the race. The race was exceptionally attritional; in the final standings, only 29 riders finished the race and none of the Cynisca riders held on.
Tulsa Tough – June 9-11
The Tulsa Tough bills itself as a three-day party on wheels. While Cynisca wasn’t there for the party, we’re sure our riders had some fun celebrating after Katia nabbed 3rd overall in the three-day series. Four Cynisca riders raced against the toughest criterium teams in the nation for three days of crits.
Several of these criterium specialist teams, including L39ion of Los Angelos, Miami Nights, DNAk and the Denver Disruptors, were there hoping to take some wins for the American Criterium Cup series. Anna, Claire and Jess rode aggressively to help Katia onto the podium at the end of the series.