Rally Cycling is one of the most storied professional cycling teams in North America, and over the years its riders have gone on to win nearly all of the major races and events in the United States. But one event has proven elusive—the US men’s road race national championship. That is, until this past week when Rally Cycling’s Joey Rosskopf—a former winner of the US national time trial championship on two occasions—put in the ride of his life and scored himself and his team a national road title. Rosskopf’s effort was the crown jewel in a stunning display of dominance by Rally Cycling, which also saw athletes Kyle Murphy and Gavin Mannion taking third and seventh place, respectively.
The race was held in Knoxville, Tennessee, as part of the biggest weekend of racing in the United States—the USA Cycling Pro Road National Championships, which also included time trial and criterium events. Sunday’s men’s and women’s road races were the final events, and Rally Cycling truly had a day to remember. In the women’s race earlier in the day, Rally Cycling’s Krista-Doebel-Hickok took home a stellar fourth place finish after one of the best rides of her career, which was even more impressive considering that she competed in the criterium national championship race earlier in the weekend.
Rally Cycling’s men’s contingent was all about the road race, however, with the team opting to skip the criterium event in order for its riders to rest and focus on the hunt for the elusive road race title. The strategy paid off perfectly with a brand-new stars-and-stripes jersey making its way to Rosskopf’s shoulders as he stood on the top step of the podium at day’s end.
“It’s amazing,” said Rosskopf. “I didn’t expect it. We always had numbers up there and the way we raced it was only a matter of time before one of us got off the front. When I went, they hesitated, and that’s all it takes, especially when you have the team to support you.”
The men’s national championship road race saw 146 riders roll to the start line of the 190.9-kilometer course, which consisted of 15 laps of a 12.6-kilometer circuit in the city of Knoxville. Rally Cycling saw several of its riders in the mix all race long on a day filled with several breakaways, plenty of attacks, and incredible racing from the nation’s best cyclists. On only the third lap of the race, Kyle Murphy put himself into an audacious breakaway attempt that wasn’t caught until the final hour of the race. Yet despite this sensational effort, Murphy was still strong enough to be in contention late in the race along with Rally Cycling teammate Gavin Mannion.
“Kyle was unbelievable,” said Rosskopf. “He was out there all day. I have no idea how he had the legs to do that and still finish on the podium. Every single person played a role and Kyle led the way.”
“When I turned left onto the finish straight, I was thinking about my kiddos and how badly I wanted to stand on the podium with them,” said Murphy. “I went for it and held on for third. I can’t believe Joey won, he’s the nicest guy in the world.”
Ultimately, Rosskopf secured victory after launching multiple attacks within the last 15 kilometers of the race. In the final kilometer, five riders were together to contest the win, with Rosskopf giving it everything he had aboard his AR race bike to get free before the finish line, giving himself just enough time to celebrate his maiden US road race national title.
How much did this win mean for the Rally Cycling team? Jonas Carney, the team’s Performance Manager who has been with the outfit since 2007, summed it up perfectly:
“It feels great,” said Carney. “We’ve been trying to win this race for 15 years and we finally did it! The guys rode a superb race. Kyle Murphy was an absolute animal and we couldn’t have done it without his amazing ride. And on top of that, Clark Sheehan won the USPRO RR as a first-year director. Simply amazing.”
Congratulations to Joey Rosskopf and the entire Rally Cycling organization.
(Photos: Sam Wiebe / Rally Cycling)
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