(Updated May 26, 4:45 p.m. EDT) – Greg Daniel and Logan Owen will be the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team's two representatives this weekend at the USA Cycling Volkswagen Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships in North Carolina.
The two-day competition begins Friday with a 48 kilometer individual time trial on an out-and-back course. Saturday's road race is 187 km, consisting of 12 laps of a 15.5-km circuit.
Daniel is coming off the Amgen Tour of California where he figured in breakaways on consecutive days and earned "most courageous rider" honors on Stage 3 before finishing 52nd overall. Owen figured in the breakaway on Stage 5, and in April became the first American to win the Under 23 version of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Both riders helped Axeon Hagens Berman finish runner-up in the team standings in California as teammate Neilson Powless won the "best young rider" title.
Coming out of the eight-day race that ended Sunday on the opposite coast, Daniel said he is feeling a bit fatigued. He will compete in both the time trial and the road race while Owen was a late entry to the road race.
"But I always come out of that race so much stronger than when I come in," Daniel said. "Hopefully, the form is there come the day of the race. I just need to make sure I do everything I can to recover from this big block of spring races."
A year ago, the 21-year-old from Denver, Colorado, finished runner-up in the national road race and third in the time trial while competing in the Under 23 division. This year, he steps up to the professional division at the championships in Winston-Salem, which is about a three-hour drive from his training base in Sylva, North Carolina.
"The time trial course seems fairly straightforward," Daniel said. "There are not many turns and it is not really hilly. I think it will be a good experience for me personally, because it is the longest time trial I have ever done."
Owen said he brings both confidence and good form into his first professional road race at nationals. Last year in Chattanooga, the 21-year-old from Bremeton, Washington, placed 11th in the Under 23 road race.
"I don't think it is going to be any different," Owen said. "We have been racing these guys all year and all these guys last year and we are just as strong – if not stronger – than all the guys who will be racing. We just have to sit back and pick our moments to go. Surprisingly, I have gotten really good recovery days in and I got a ride in today (Thursday) and felt amazing. Hopefully, I will feel amazing in two days and then Greg and I can go 1-2."
The course, Owen said, is definitely worthy of crowning a national champion.
"It is going to be hard," he said. It is going to be a different type of hard from the last couple of years. But it is still going to be harder toward the end. My guess it will be about 40 guys coming to the finish."
Saturday's road race will be live-streamed. Cyclingfans.com, Cyclingnews.com and Cyclingtips.com will each provide broadcast sources.