Angeles National Forest, California – Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team newcomers Christopher Blevins and Michael Rice notched top 10 performances in Friday's Main Street Garage Mountain Time Trial, the opening stage of the San Dimas Stage Race.
In the 4.25-mile uphill race against the clock under sunny skies in the San Gabriel Mountains, Blevins finished sixth, 47 seconds off the winning time. Rice was eighth, 51 seconds back.
Kyle Murphy (Cylance Pro Cycling) took the win in a time of 14 minutes and 45 seconds. Conner Brown (Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling) was three seconds slower to take runner-up honors and Jordan Cheyne (Jelly Belly presented by Maxxis) was third, 20 seconds off the winning time.
For Blevins, Friday's time trial was radically different from The Specialized Cactus Cup mountain bike race he won earlier this month. The 19-year-old from Durango, Colorado, is the reigning U.S. national junior mountain biking champion.
"Mountain biking tends to have a lot of short and intense efforts," Blevins said. "A climbing time trial definitely takes a lot more patience and a consistent effort. The Cactus Cup was more sustained than typical mountain bike races, so I think that helped me going into this weekend. I am happy with my performance. I had a busy week finishing finals at college, so I did not have an expectation on how I would feel. But it was good overall."
Other Axeon Hagens Berman riders and their finishes were: Edward Anderson, 17th, at 1:12; Rui Oliveira, 18th, at 1:17; Jonny Brown, 27th, at 1:37; Chad Young, 38th, at 2:02; Geoffrey Curran, 51st, at 2:45.
Rice, who joins Anderson, Blevins and Oliveira as first-year members of the world's leading cycling development team, said previous experience in uphill time trials taught him how to gauge his pacing.
"For me it is crucial not to start too hard out of the gates," the Australian said. "Today I found a nice rhythm for the first half, and went hell-for-leather to the finish line."
The second of the three stages of the USA Cycling American Road Calendar event is Saturday's San Dimas Hospital Road Race. Run on a new course, the 84-mile race is comprised of 12 laps of a seven-mile circuit that includes several short climbs. Start time is 1:15 p.m. PDT.
Blevins said he and his six other teammates are feeling good about making a move up the standings.
"I think the team is in a good position to be aggressive and make the race exciting," he said.
Header file photo of Christopher Blevins by Davey Wilson.