'Working guy' Eric Marcotte surges to USA road race victory in Chattanooga (video, slideshow)

'Working guy' Eric Marcotte surges to USA road race victory in Chattanooga (video, slideshow)

May 27th, 2014 by Jim Tanner in Sports - Professional

Travis McCabe presented by Smart Stop Pro Cycling, left, and teammates Eric Marcotte, center, and Julian Kyer are congratulated on placing first, second and fifth in the USA Cycling Road Race National Championship on May 26, 2014. Eric Marcotte presented by Smart Stop Pro Cycling won the stars and stripes jersey.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

When you think about an average guy, in many ways Eric Marcotte is the definition of the term.

He's a 33-year-old chiropractor from Scottsdale, Ariz., who likes photography and works full time to make ends meet.

There's one thing that makes him not so average: He's the 2014 USA Cycling Professional Road Race champion after winning a sprint finish on Market Street in downtown Chattanooga on Monday afternoon.

Marcotte finished the 102-mile course through downtown, the North Shore and four climbs up Lookout Mountain in 4 hours, 17 minutes and 59 seconds, ahead of teammate Travis McCabe in second and Garmin Sharp rider Alex Howes in third.

Marcotte and McCabe ride for SmartStop Pro Cycling, a smaller team with a new sports director and not many accolades coming into the season, and the winner seemed in awe of what he had done against America's best cyclists as he spoke to the media after the race.

"I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I represent America," Marcotte said. "I'm a full-time working guy who just won a national championship. What else can you want for this sport.

"It's amazing. These guys are unbelievable athletes, and I'm lucky to be able to race with them and have this opportunity to do this."

Monday's road race was held in warm but clear conditions, but it was marred by a serious accident early in the race when BMC Racing's Taylor Phinney -- one of the race favorite and one of the hot young American riders in pro cycling -- crashed on a descent down Lookout, breaking his leg in two places. That likely ended his 2014 season.

Unlike some of the bigger Pro Tour teams, the SmartStop team stayed in a private home on Lookout Mountain this week, and McCabe said they felt like "Lookout Mountain's team" Monday after spending so much time training in that community the past several days.

Marcotte's victory capped an amazing weekend for SmartStop Pro Cycling. In addition to Marcotte and McCabe's 1-2 finish in the road race, Julian Kyer was fourth in Saturday's time trial championships.

"It's pretty huge to get this win," McCabe said. "At the beginning of the year, nobody really took SmartStop too seriously. We're a new team with a new director.

"The amount of success we had prior to U.S. pros was already a successful season, so adding this onto the resume is huge."

All of the riders on the podium had good things to say about Chattanooga in its second year hosting USA Cycling's premier road cycling championships and the thousands of fans on the roads along the course cheering for riders.

"Chattanooga's great," Howes said. "It's a real outdoorsy community -- real friendly and open group of people. I myself have spent almost two months down here. I spend a good chunk of the time this winter checking out the course trying to win this sucker.

"It didn't quite work out, but I've been up Lookout Mountain a few times."

Contact Jim Tanner at jtanner@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6478.