Knoxville, Tennessee - Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling Team’s Ian Garrison capitalized on dedicated off-season preparation and strong early season form to win the US Pro Individual Time Trial on Thursday.
In 2017, Garrison finished the US Pro ITT in 17th place. Last year, he was just outside the top 10. But 2019 proved to be Garrison’s year as he fought off strong efforts from World Tour riders Neilson Powless (Team Jumbo-Visma), Larry Warbasse (AG2R La Mondiale), and Sean Bennett (EF Education First) to claim his second national time trial title in a week’s time.
It was only one week ago that he climbed onto the top step of the podium at the 2019 U23 National ITT Championship beating last year’s winner, Gage Hecht (Aevolo), by almost two minutes.
“The U23 win definitely gave me some confidence, but at the same time I didn’t want to let it distract from my focus on today’s time trial too much,” said Garrison. “I approached today similar to last week, but with small, necessary changes because in the end, it’s two different time trials on two different days. Personally, it’s all about keeping it simple. The goal is just to go as fast as possible and do the best ride that I can on the day.”
As the fourth-to-last rider to set out on the three-lap, 34.4 km course, the 21-year-old from Decatur, Georgia passed the first time check the fastest, putting him the proverbial “hot seat.” After Powless, Warbasse, and George Simpson (Elevate KHS Pro) completed their laps, Garrison had beaten out former Axeon rider and teammate Powless by 19 seconds to earn the victory.
“It feels incredible” said a thrilled Garrison. “It’s the result of hard work and lots of help from my family, friends, and team. To be able to give back, in this way, to everyone that has helped me accomplish this goal is a feeling you can’t describe.”
While in each passing year he was able to achieve better results, the podium had eluded him. Garrison’s time trial preparation for this year started in the off-season. He spent a significant amount of time “getting comfortable” on the TT bike and completing interval workouts.
“I think Ian has had this in him, but it takes time to develop,” said sport director Jeff Louder. “I know he put a lot of focus into preparing for these Championships in the past month. He has been consistently growing in his ability for years and he now has the physical maturity and experience to put it all into place. Racing a solid spring campaign ending in California and then applying all that fitness in a concentrated way towards these races has obviously worked really well. It was a near flawless ride and a pleasure for me to witness.”
Garrison’s upward path has been steady throughout his time with the Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling Team and career, especially for someone like him who is a hard worker, the consummate teammate, and genuine person.
“Winning is the best way to get people to notice you, but it doesn't mean a lot unless you have character and experience to back it up,” said Louder. “I think Ian was World Tour material before these wins, but having these championships is more proof that he has what it takes to make it at the next level.”
Teammate Edward Anderson finished in 17th place, Sean Quinn was 18th, and Kevin Vermaeke rounded out the top 25. The US riders will look to defend Jonny Brown’s 2018 US Pro National title in the road race on Sunday.