Swanson 2nd at U23 Criterium Nationals

The U23 National Championship Road Race and Criterium were the big race I was targeting this year. Going into the road race, my goal was a top 10 finish but I was most excited for the Criterium on Sunday! I have had some past success in the Crit and was going into the race with the expectations of a win.

The road race I was going in much more confident this year. Last year, I had made some stupid mistakes that caused me to cramp early in the race. I was going in much more prepared this year. The race started out pretty chill as a break rolled early on that nobody was too worried about since the race was 112 miles. It was very humid, so I made sure to eat and drink every single lap! The action didn’t really begin until the 3rd lap at the 60 mile mark. I followed most of the well represented breakaways, but nothing was getting away. It wasn’t until the final lap that the break had finally gotten away but I had missed the move as I had bridged up to a breakaway just before the final one stuck. It was a well represented break with some riders from each of the big teams. I just didn’t have the legs to go again with the next move. By the time my legs came around again, the break was too far gone. The run-in to the finish was full of attacks and constant accelerations. I ended sprinting to 19th place. It wasn’t the result I was looking for but I gave it my all and still had one more race to look forward to.

The Crit was what I was looking most forward to. I was by myself without any teammates at the event, and my original plan was to just save my energy for the finish of the race. This year the race was much different than last year though. They had changed the direction of the course and it changed the whole dynamic. I got there early and watched some of the races before mine and saw there were many crashes and the groups were pretty strung out the whole time.

Starting the race I had a call-up and was able to start from a good position. I wanted to make sure that I never left the top 15. Aevolo started off the race swinging hard constantly sending guys off the front. At 10 minutes into the race there was already an established group up the road that I was worried about. I followed the 303 project rider Eric Brunner across to the move. The break had started out with 6 riders, and we soon swapped one of those for yet another Aevolo rider, making it 3 riders from their team in the move. This was not an ideal situation for me, but I thought it was my best chance to win.

We all worked really well together and had a 30 second gap almost the whole race. Aevolo waited until the last 5 laps to start launching attacks. The 303 rider and I had to trade off covering the attacks and were able to keep the group together. I thought my best chance at winning would be with a sprint. On the final lap we were down to 4 riders. Two Aevolo riders  Gage Hecht and Michael Hernandez, Me, and Eric Brunner. I was trying to keep a close eye on what was going on behind me to make sure I didn’t get caught off guard, but Eric had attacked right into the 3rd turn and got a gap instantly. He had Hernandez on his wheel and I jumped and was able to close the gap, but not until the final turn. The finish was about 100 meters after the turn and there was a tailwind. I wasn’t in the position I needed to be in to win the sprint and I ended up finishing in a close 2nd to Hernandez.

I’ve had some time to reflect over the race now and it is definitely a bittersweet moment for me. It is my best result at the National Championship race but to have come so close was hard for me at first. I’m definitely proud of the result, but it’s time to move on and focus to the upcoming Pro Nationals. We have a very strong squad of 4 and I’m definitely looking forward to racing with them!

Photo Credit: Lisa Bourgoyne

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