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Brownsburg native claims US cycling time trial national championship

Chloé Dygert of the United States and Team Canyon/SRAM Racing on second place poses on the podium ceremony after the 6th RideLondon Classique 2023, Stage 3 a 91.2km stage from London to London / #UCIWWT / on May 28, 2023 in London. (Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

(AP) — Brownsburg, Indiana, native Chloé Dygert continued her remarkable return from a devastating injury by winning her second U.S. time trial championship on Thursday, and put herself squarely on a path toward the world championships and next year’s Paris Olympics.

Dygert covered two circuits of a 7.2-mile (11.5-km) course through persistent rain just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee, in just over 31 minutes to better 2021 road race national champion Lauren Stephens by 9 seconds. Two-time Olympic time trial champion Amber Neben, still at an elite level at the age of 48, was another 23 seconds behind in third place.

In the men’s competition, Brandon McNulty followed his stage win at the Giro d’Italia by covering three laps in 40:39 to win the stars-and-stripes jersey. William Barta was 1:32 back in second and two-time national champion Joey Rosskopf was third.

“I haven’t been out here in a few years but it’s nice to come out here and win the national title,” McNulty said. “It’s not the most fun in the rain, but you just have to be careful in the turns and go harder in the straightaways. I got lucky out there — the roads were still really wet but no rain was actually falling on me.”

Dygert was widely considered the world’s best time trialist in 2019, when she won the world championship and became a favorite for the Olympics in Tokyo. But after the Summer Games were postponed to 2021, Dygert was racing at worlds again in September 2020 when she crashed over a guardrail and down a steep incline, leaving her with severe injuries to her left leg.

She underwent numerous procedures to repair the damage, and returned far short of her best to help the U.S. win the bronze medal in the team pursuit at the Tokyo Games. Then she missed most of the 2022 season due to an abnormal heart rate, more work on her leg and a bout with the Epstein-Barr virus that kept her off the bike.

The 26-year-old from Indiana competed in her first road race in 14 months at La Vuelta Feminina in May. At the Vuelta a Burgos Feminina, Dygert twice made the podium, and she won a stage and finished second overall at the RideLondon Classique.

Dygert said after her winning ride in Tennessee that her sights are now set on the world championships in Scotland in August.

“I’m super happy to pull off the win here. That was the goal in order to qualify for the ITT at the world championships,” Dygert said. “Now it’s about moving on to the training and preparation in order to prepare the best I can for the ITT in Glasgow.”

Triathlon world champion and Olympic medalist Taylor Knibb, who announced this week that she had signed with the Trek-Segafredo pro cycling team, finished fourth in the time trial Thursday. She missed the podium by just two seconds.

In the men’s race, McNulty took advantage of the absence of two-time defending champ Lawson Craddock and fellow WorldTour rider Magnus Sheffield to score his first elite time trial national title. The 25-year-old from Phoenix already has had a big year for UAE Team Emirates with his stage win in at the Giro and the best young rider jersey at the Tour of the Basque Country.

McNulty, who is not on the Tour de France start list, previously won three under-23 and junior national time trial titles.

The U.S. championships continue with criterium races Friday night and the road races on Saturday.