McELROY WINS NATIONAL U23 ROAD TITLE
June 28th, 2021
We're still speechless from Saturday when Sean McElroy sprinted to victory in the U23 Road Race just two months after an emergency appendectomy. The Palmdale, Calif. native sprinted out of a breakaway of seven to claim the U23 title at Fort Blanding, Florida, last Saturday.
"I feel happy, and I feel blessed," McElroy said. "I didn't know if it was going to be possible because of my surgery earlier this year. Not riding for a month and just trying to feel normal again. It's been tough. I'm relieved that my form is back, and I feel really good."
The 108mi road race started under sunny skies, but it certainly didn't end that way. Instead, a torrential downpour brought epic conditions to the race on the final lap, that saw McElroy, Conor Schunk and Aidan McNeil escape in a group of seven. The move turned out to be the winning combination.
As soon as McElroy found himself in the break, he started thinking about how he would approach the finish.
"I was trying to think ahead," McElroy said. "I was thinking of all the scenarios that might play out once I knew that was the winning move."
Schunk sprinted to fourth place in the road race behind McElroy, and McNeil finished seventh. Gabriel Shipley took ninth in the bunch sprint, about a minute behind.
"The weekend was very successful," team director Mike Creed said. "I'm really happy with how the guys raced. They stayed patient and were willing to lose if riders from other teams expected them to do all of the heavy lifting. They played it perfectly in the road race, and I'm incredibly proud of them."
The 32km U23 time trial kicked off Amateur Nationals two days prior, where Schunk was the best finisher in seventh place. Seven was Schunk's lucky number in the U23 criterium as well, after a late attack to try and bridge up to the escapees.
"Obviously, the time trial and criterium were not up to our usual standards," Creed said. "I think that came down to a combination of things, so all we can do is try to learn from things that we can change and control next time. That's what our team is about, learning and moving forward. So all in all, a very successful weekend."