Dygert and McNulty claim U.S. cycling time trial national championships

Chloe Dygert of the United States competes during the women's cycling individual time trial at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in Oyama, Japan. (Tim de Waele/AP)

KNOXVILLE — Chloe Dygert continued her remarkable return from a devastating injury by winning her second U.S. time trial championship on Thursday and put herself squarely on a path toward the world championships and next year’s Paris Olympics.

Dygert covered two circuits of a 7.2-mile (11.5 km) course through persistent rain just outside of Knoxville in just over 31 minutes to top 2021 road race national champion Lauren Stephens by nine seconds. Two-time Olympic time trial champion Amber Neben, still at an elite level at the age of 48, was another 23 seconds behind in third place.

In the men’s competition, Brandon McNulty followed his stage win at the Giro d’Italia by covering three laps in 40:39 to win the stars-and-stripes jersey. William Barta was 1:32 back in second and two-time national champion Joey Rosskopf was third.

Brandon McNulty celebrates on podium after winning the 15th stage of the Giro D’Italia, tour of Italy cycling race from Seregno to Bergamo, Italy, Sunday, May 21, 2023. (Gian Mattia D’Alberto/AP)

Dygert was widely considered the world’s best time trialist in 2019 when she won the world championship and became a favourite for the Olympics in Tokyo. But after the Summer Games were postponed to 2021, Dygert was racing at worlds again in September 2020 when she crashed over a guardrail and down a steep incline, leaving her with severe injuries to her left leg.

She underwent numerous procedures to repair the damage and returned far short of her best to help the U.S. win the bronze medal in the team pursuit at the Tokyo Games. Then she missed most of the 2022 season due to an abnormal heart rate, more work on her leg and a bout with the Epstein Barr Virus that kept her off the bike.

The 26-year-old from Indiana’s first road race in 14 months came at La Vuelta Feminina in May. At the Vuelta a Burgos Feminina, Dygert twice made the podium, and she won a stage and finished second overall at the RideLondon Classique.

Dygert said after her winning ride in Tennessee that her sights are now set on the world championships in Scotland in August.

Triathlon world champion and Olympic medalist Taylor Knibb, who announced this week that she had signed with the Trek-Segafredo pro cycling team, finished fourth in the time trial Thursday. She missed the podium by just two seconds.

In the men’s race, McNulty took advantage of the absence of two-time defending champ Lawson Craddock and fellow WorldTour rider Magnus Sheffield to score his first elite time trial national title. The 25-year-old from Phoenix already has had a big year for UAE Team Emirates with his stage win in at the Giro and the best young rider jersey at the Tour of the Basque Country.

McNulty, who is not on the Tour de France start list, previously won three under-23 and junior national time trial titles.

The U.S. championships continue with criterium races Friday night and the road races on Saturday.

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