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Brownsburg’s Chloe Dygert wins women’s US cycling title

(AP) — American cyclist Chloe Dygert followed up her time trial national title with a victory in the women’s road race on Sunday, while Quinn Simmons broke away from the field to win the shortened men’s race at the U.S. championships.

Dygert pulled away from Coryn Labecki, who won the criterium title earlier in the weekend, on the final turns leading to the finish on Gay Street. Labecki took the silver medal while Skylar Schneider out-sprinted 2021 champ Lauren Stephens for third.

While the races were going on around Knoxville, Tennessee, a group of protesters led by former collegiate swimmer Riley Gaines gathered near Thompson-Boling Arena to protest the policy of cycling’s world governing body — the UCI — allowing transgender athletes meeting certain testosterone benchmarks to compete in women’s races.

Earlier this year, Austin Killips became the first openly transgender woman to win an official cycling event when Killips rode to victory in the fifth stage of the Tour of the Gila, one of the marquee U.S. stage races. The victory was official because the 27-year-old Killips had adhered to a policy put in place by the UCI last year requiring transgender athletes to have serum testosterone levels of 2.5 nanomoles per liter or less for at least 24 months before competing in women’s events.

USA Cycling officials said Sunday that Killips was allowed to race at nationals under those same UCI guidelines. Killips finished in a large group five seconds behind Dygert and the rest of the leading riders.

The 26-year-old Dygert’s big weekend was the culmination of a long comeback from a career-threatening injury that she sustained in a crash during the 2020 world championships. She underwent numerous procedures to repair damage to her left leg, and after she came back to help the U.S. win a team pursuit medal at the Tokyo Games, she was sidelined for nearly all of last season due to an abnormal heart rate and a bout with the Epstein-Barr virus.

She competed at La Vuelta Feminina in May in her first race in 14 months, but the Indiana native really showed she was on the comeback by twice making the podium at the Vuelta a Burgos Feminina and winning a stage of the RideLondon Classique.

Now, Dygert will be among the favorites to win the time trial — her specialty — at the world championships in Scotland in August, another important marker in her build-up toward the Paris Olympics next year.

Simmons rode most of the men’s race along with Tyler Williams in a breakaway before pulling away to win gold by 37 seconds. Williams was second while Tyler Stites out-sprinted time trial champion Brandon McNulty to round out the podium.

The 22-year-old Simmons decided to race at the last minute after helping Trek-Segafredo teammate Mattias Skjelmose win the overall title at the Tour de Suisse. It was an emotional race in Europe for Simmons and the rest of the peloton after Gino Mader of Team Bahrain Victorious died following a crash during a harrowing descent midway through the race.

Simmons was the 2018 junior national champion but had never won the elite men’s road race.