Most of the National Road-Race and Time-Trial Cycling Championships around the world are now complete and once again, Team RadioShack has an impressive list of performances, many from some of its younger riders. From countries spread as far across the globe as The USA, Slovenia, New Zealand, Portugal, and Japan, many of The Shack’s team members placed their names in their respective nation’s record books beating the best in their country in their respective disciplines. We’ll get our first glimpse of one of them, Janez Brajkovi?, sporting his national colors in just a few days at this year’s Tour de France. The others will have to wait for a while, but remember; we’ll be seeing their jerseys all next spring too.
Here’s a brief synopsis of some of the notable performances reported this past month in the various Men’s Elite National Cycling Championships around the world:
Japan – Fumiyuki Beppu: For the second time in his professional career Beppu swept both his nation’s Time Trial and Road Race competitions. Fumy previously did this in 2006 while riding for Discovery Channel. In the 30 km ITT, Beppu just beat Junya Sano by 19 seconds, and Ryota Nishizono by 53 secs. No one else came within a minute-and-a half of his time. In the road race, Japan’s first professional to complete the TdF (2009) took the sprint finish, with enough time to do a victory salute at the finish. Great performance for this 28-yr old professional.
USA – Matthew Busche: Beating none other than the perennial favorite BMC’s George Hincapie, Busche sprinted to the line in an extremely close photo finish to take this year’s National Road Race jersey from the back of last year’s champion RadioShack’s Ben King. The promising 26-yr old followed up that performance with another podium finish in this year’s National Time Trial Championships coming in 3rd place behind Garmin-Cervelo’s David Zabriskie and Jamis/Sutter Home’s Tom Zirbel. Exceptionally strong showings against two very talented fields.
Slovenia – Janez Brajkovi?: For the second time in his career, the 27-yr old Brajkovi? bested all comers to take the gold medal in his nation’s ITT Championships. Actually Jani has won 3 ITT Championships, the first coming in 2004 when he won the World U23 Championships. Jani, along with his teammates, is showing top form coming into this year’s TdF and it will be great seeing him proudly wear his nation’s jersey at this year’s time trial.
Portugal – Nelson Oliveira: This 22-yr old, in his first professional year, will be wearing the national colors of Portugal for the rest of this season and next as their new Individual Time Trial Champion. Coming to the event in great shape with his impressive 4th place showing in the final ITT of the Tour of Switzerland, behind Cancellara, Klöden, and Leipheimer, Nelson powered to victory over the 32-km course more than a minute faster than his closest competitor.
New Zealand – Jesse Sergent: Another 22-yr old riding in his first professional year with The Shack, Jesse put in strong performances in both his nation’s elite road races this year with a 2nd place silver medal showing in the individual time trial and a 7th place finish in the road race. In the ITT, Jesse finished just 28 –secs behind winner Subway’s Westley Gough over the 40-km course.
USA – Ben King: Showing that last year’s win in the National Road Race was no fluke, Ben put in two strong performances coming in 5th place in the Time Trail and 8th place in the Road Race. Somewhat rare for someone so young to have already won and then given up his nation’s road racing jersey, if this 22-yr old had to pass the stars and stripes jersey to another competitor at least he was able to hand it to someone on his own bus, Matthew Busche, keeping it in the Team RadioShack family.
France – Geoffroy Lequatre: Geoffroy beat some serious competition with a powerful performance to take his nation’s bronze in the ITT Championships in France. Over the 45.2-km course, he finished just behind winner Europcar’s Christophe Kern, and AG2R’s Christophe Riblon. The 29-yr old who, has his own clothing line, was all smiles at the podium ceremony taking a well-deserved bow.
While some of the old pros on Team RadioShack seem to be stealing most of the headlines lately with their victories this year, it’s good to note that there is a strong nucleus of young talent ready and able to lead when called on.
George Hurst, staff writer