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Lawson Craddock (Team BikeExchange–Jayco) secured the U.S. Pro Championships time trial title for the second year in a row in Knoxville, Tennessee, today, clinching the jersey by mere seconds ahead of Brabantse Pijl winner Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers). The 30-year-old TT specialist won with a time of 40:39, three seconds faster than Sheffield. George Simpson (Project Echelon Racing) finished third, 1:47 off the pace.
“It’s a great environment here in Knoxville,” Craddock said. “I’m always happy to be back. Any chance that I get to race in the States is important. I was really fortunate to have a really good day, really good legs, and to walk away with the jersey.”
“At the first pedal stroke, I knew it be a tough fight to win today, but I have a lot of support behind me, with my team and my family, who have been taking care of me for the past couple of days,” said Craddock. “It’s a special feeling to wear the stars and stripes. I’m happy to defend the jersey, but I’m also looking forward to the road race on Sunday.”
Simpson, who recently took first in the time trial at Tour of the Gila in April, displayed his excellent TT form by claiming the early lead in the 35-kilometer time trial. Simpson started in the first wave of four and remained in the hot seat for more than an hour and half as dozens of riders from waves two and three concluded.
Redlands champion Tyler Stites was the first to challenge his teammate at the second intermediate check point, powering through the split 31 seconds behind Simpson, but couldn’t find the legs to gain on Simpson’s time on the final lap, and clocked a time 43:03, 37 seconds back, good for provisional second.
Simpson’s time held fast until Sheffield stormed through the first intermediate check point 41.8 seconds faster than Simpson and continued to build up an advantage on Simpson’s time by the time the 20-year-old reached the second split.
After wrapping up his stellar ride with a time of 40:43, Sheffield occupied the hot seat and watched as the final wave of seven riders took the start.
“I’m super happy, I made a big improvement and step up from last year,” Sheffield said after the race. “Obviously I came here to win. It’s a lot of traveling to come here from Europe, but I’m really lucky that my team supports me and let me come over here. I really hope to return next year to try and take the jersey.
“It’s really special to be back racing in the U.S. It’s not something we get to do much anymore. I’m happy to be back here with my family and enjoy being in the U.S.,” said Sheffield.
While Sheffield remained the fastest at the first intermediate split, it was Haga, second to Craddock in 2021, who was the first to push Simpson down to third, clocking a 13:59. But when Craddock passed, it looked like Simpson’s podium spot was in danger as the defending champion charged toward a second victory.
By the time Craddock reached the second intermediate check point, he was just three seconds behind Sheffield’s time, picking off Haga and two-minute-man Stephen Vogel as he started his final lap. He held his pace all the way to the finish to take another championship home to Houston, Texas.