published Friday, May 24th, 2013

Race attracts sport's top riders

  • photo
    Former pro cyclist George Hincapie talks to the bikers before the start of the 26th Annual 3 State 3 Mountain Challenge, presented by Village Volkswagon of Chattanooga and The Chattanooga Bicycle Club. The race featured 100, 83 and 67-mile routes.
    Photo by Connor Choate.
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The USA Cycling Professional National Championships have attracted some of the sport’s most famous — and at times infamous — competitors since it began in 1985. Here’s a look at some of the more notable past road race and time trial national champions.

Men

Eric Heiden (1985): After winning five gold medals in speed skating at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, Heiden took up cycling and won the road race at the first-ever USC Cycling pro championships in Philadelphia. He also took part in the 1986 Tour de France as a member of the 7-Eleven Cycling Team.

Davis Phinney (1991): Phinney was the second American ever to win a stage at the Tour de France in 1986 and won bronze at the 1984 Olympics in the team time trial event before earning the U.S. road race championship. He is married to Connie Carpenter-Phinney, an Olympic gold-medal winning cyclist and former U.S. women’s road race champion. Their son, Taylor, won the U.S. time trial championship in 2010.

Lance Armstrong (1993): After winning the road race national title as a 21-year-old, Armstrong nearly lost his life in a battle with testicular cancer. He recovered, and went on to become one of the most well-known cyclist in the United States, winning the Tour de France seven times before being stripped of those wins last year after admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs.

David Zabriskie (2004, 2006-09, 2011-12): Zabriskie owns the time trial competition at the U.S. pro championships, winning the event seven times in the past decade. He is expected to be here Saturday looking to defend his 2012 title after competing at the Tour of California this month. Zabriskie served a six-month ban that ended in March of this year after admitting to his use of performance-enhancing drugs during his time as a member of the U.S. Postal Cycling Team.

George Hincapie (1998, 2006, 2009): HIncapie is well known throughout cycling after a long, successful career. He competed a record 17 times in the Tour de France — finishing the grueling three-week race all but once — and is a three-time U.S. road race champion. He retired last year after admitting to the use of performance-enhancing drugs while racing on Lance Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Cycling Team.

Tyler Hamilton (2008): Hamilton had several run-ins with anti-doping officials throughout his career, winning and ultimately being stripped of an Olympic gold medal in 2004, serving a two-year suspension after failing a drug test at the 2004 Vuelta a Espana and again being suspended from the sport after a failed test in 2009. He has since published a book detailing drug use throughout his career.

Women

While 2013 marks the first year for the women’s U.S. pro championships to be held alongside the men, running on the same courses in Chattanooga and with equal prize money on the line, elite American women have been competing for national titles for years. As the female cyclists prepare to take a further step toward equality with the men, here’s a look at some past national champions from the women’s ranks.

Kristin Armstrong (2004, 2005-07): Armstrong is perhaps the most well known American woman cyclist. She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, winning the individual time trial at the 2008 and 2012 Games. She has been U.S. champion in both the time trial and road race, winning both in 2006. Armstrong will be in Chattanooga this weekend as a television commentator for the NBC Sports Network.

Mara Abbott (2007, 2010): Abbott is the first American to win the Giro Donne, one of the Grand Tours of women’s pro cycling, and she continues to be a force in the women’s peloton. She began her athletic career as a competitive swimmer at Whitman College, where she discovered cycling and won two college national titles.

Connie Carpenter-Phinney (1976-77, 1979, 1981): Carpenter-Phinney, husband of former pro Davis and mother of current BMC Racing team member Taylor Phinney, is the youngest American ever to compete in a Winter Olympics, finishing seventh at 14 years old in the 1500-meter speed skating competition in the 1972 Games in Sapporo, Japan. She later turned her focus to cycling, winning five national titles including both the road race and time trial championships in 1981 and gold medal in the road race at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

about Jim Tanner...

Jim Tanner has worked as assistant sports editor at the Times Free Press since late 2006. He started at the Times Free Press in 2001 and worked as a news copy/design editor from 2001 through 2006. In addition to working as a night and weekend editor producing local and national sports coverage for print and online readers, Jim occasionally writes local sports and outdoors stories. Jim grew up in Ringgold, Ga., and is a graduate ...

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