Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling Team’s Michael Garrison became the 5th Axeon rider to win the US U23 Individual Time Trial National Championships on Thursday.
Michael bested second place finisher Jack Bardi by just twelve seconds and third place finisher Tyrel Fuchs (Elevate - Webiplex Pro Cycling) by over half a minute over the 32 km, out-and-back course.
It was only one week ago in Knoxville, Tennessee that the 19-year-old competed at the US Pro National ITT Championship finishing in 9th place behind a slew of World Tour riders including Axeon alumni Lawson Craddock (EF Education - Nippo) and Will Barta (EF Education - Nippo) who finished in 1st and 5th places.
“I’m super happy to take the win, but can’t say it was my best effort,” said Michael. “I started off well, focusing on floating the beginning as it was a long effort, but my body faded hard. Coming from the Giro and going straight into Knoxville, I’ve definitely been under some fatigue, but I wanted to come down and give one good effort to try to get a jersey in the team. I was much happier with the sensations and the effort in Knoxville compared to today, but you can’t nail every race.”
Followers of Michael’s career might have seen the result coming. In 2019, he finished in 3rd place at the USA Cycling Junior National Championships. Due to the covid19 global pandemic, US National Championships were not held in 2020. As such, the U23 Stars and Stripes jersey passes to the Georgia native from a very familiar rider, his brother Ian. Ian, a former Hagens Berman Axeon rider himself, held both the 2019 US Pro and U23 time trial titles. Since his double victory, Ian moved up to the World Tour and now rides for Deceuninck – Quick-Step.
“When I was younger I did a lot of good efforts; spending time on group rides in Atlanta allowed me to get lots of miles in while having loads of fun with friends,” he said. “I think this community and the pure joy of riding long with friends really helped build my aerobic engine.”
While he doesn’t think his performance was his best time trial effort, he’s ecstatic to wear the national champ’s jersey at U23 time trial events for the following year.
“And I want to thank my mom for everything. Her support is why I am where I am,” said Michael.
“Michael showed at the USPro TT that he was riding well,” said sport director Jeff Louder. “He had a great result there which gave him confidence for U23s. It’s great to see him get the win. He worked hard all spring and like most everyone didn’t have much of a 2020 so it’s really nice to see him take the chance to show his talent and take home a national champions’ jersey.
Teammate Colby Lange finished in 6th place. Lucas Bourgoyne will join Colby to compete in the U23 road race and criterium National Championships on June 26th and 27th.
Photo: Casey B. Gibson