The final race of the USA Elite Road National Championships delivered another podium for the Berries on Sunday afternoon. In a tight two-man duel, Jesse Moore finished second at the Elite Men Road Race in Augusta, Georgia, delivering the fifth podium in six races for the squad.
“We raced the race exactly like we had planned to, which was great. Other people weren’t dictating terms to me, I was racing as I wanted to race it on my terms, so I’m proud of that. I just got beaten, that’s pretty much the way it went. I can’t be upset about that but I am a little bummed.” Moore said.
Moore was quick to thank his teammates for the help throughout the race, including the espoirs riders that joined the five Elites in the race. “We were able to get three of the younger guys to race with us today, they turned out to be invaluable too.”
A stand-out was Evan Huffman, who after claiming the bronze at the U23 Road Race on Saturday, spent much of the race off the front in a break. “He was a rock star today and that took a ton of pressure off all of us.” Moore said. “We didn’t have to do anything which was great, we could just surf and stay in the back.”
With two laps to go in the 168-km scorcher, non-stops attacks were being covered by Nate Wilson and Moore as the early break was being reeled in. Moore then found himself in the move of the day.
“There were a lot of teams represented, almost everybody had one or two teammates in there. Some guys were tired and couple of other guys were really hitting it hard.” said Moore, who admits to being a little concerned at being solo in the 15-rider group.
The pressure was on at the start of the seventh and final 24-km loop with the peloton only 15 seconds back. Moore’s teammates were shutting down all attacks in the field while he took matters into his own hands on the opening three climbs. “I started putting pressure on people on all those bumps because a lot of guys were trying to sit on, so I just kept on trying to split it apart.”
Moore’s second attack stuck and reduced the front group to a more manageable five. “We worked really well together, I was impressed with my breakmates. Nobody was trying to play any games. I think we all figured that we were going to get caught, so we were just trying to keep the pressure off teammates.”
The five did stay away and the games started at the front in the final kilometer. Climber Moore launched the first attack on the uphill section, which dropped every rider but one, eventual winner Max Korus (BikeReg.com-Cannondale).
“I did kind of pretend that I was done, hoping he would jump in front of me. I didn’t want to have to do the next 500 meters on the front, I knew he’d come around me.” Moore explained.
Korus did come around but he opened a gap that Moore couldn’t close on the flat 500 meters before the finish line. “I was coming on him real fast but he had too much of a gap. It was tailwind sprint and I couldn’t draft, I needed 30 more meters. It was an exciting finish.”
In total, the Berries racked up five podiums over the past very hot four days.
“We didn’t get the win but this was the most podiums we’ve ever had and that’s obviously really good. It shows that we have a lot of depth because it was also coming from different people.” Moore concluded.
The complete tally is a third for Huffman in the U23 road race, a third for Eamon Lucas in the U23 time trial and three podiums for Moore, a third in the Elite Time Trial, a fourth in the Elite Criterium and a second in the Elite Road Race.