Putt takes second in road nationals | ParkRecord.com

Putt takes second in road nationals

Matthew Piper, OF THE RECORD STAFF

Furthering his chances of enticing a pro sponsor, Park City’s Tanner Putt finished second in his age category at the USA Cycling 2010 U23 Elite Road Nationals in Bend, Oregon, on Sunday.

The Cole Sport racer led all of the nation’s best cyclists aged 17-18 until winner Lawson Craddock finally charged past him near the conclusion of the final stage.

"I’m very pleased," Putt told The Park Record over the phone on the drive home. "I was expecting to compete for a top 10. The two races before this one, I didn’t do too great and didn’t have good legs. It was a surprise, for sure."

The final stage took cyclists 70 miles over four laps, and Putt joined six other riders in a lead group early. Craddock attacked and Putt went with him, but the lead group again swelled to seven until Putt and Craddock finally left the field behind with 10 kilometers left.

Putt took the lead at first, but Houston’s Craddock – who also won the time trial and the criterium and is the reigning world time trial junior champion – outsprinted Putt to the finish.

Putt also took 21st in the criterium and 40th in the time trial – results that he called "disappointing" but nonetheless bettered last year’s DNFs in both. Putt was 33rd in the road race last year.

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Possibly accounting for some of his progress is the time he spent this spring overseas racing for the U.S. Junior National Team on smaller, more technical courses on streets packed with entrants (U.S. race fields are relatively sparse, Putt said).

"I think that helped," Putt said. "It’s much faster over there."

Seeking a pro contract ultimately, Putt currently rides for the Cole Sport team and is part of that group’s Tour of Utah squad. Team manager Todd Hageman said he will likely be the youngest rider to start that mid-August race, an honor Putt also held last year before a flat tire cost him a finish.

His specialty (somewhat unusually for a city that produces so many climbers) is sprinting, and he could be one to watch in the criterium.

Beyond that, Putt is aiming to perform well at a July Nation’s Cup race with the national team in Canada and win an invitation to the World Championships in Italy at the end of August.

Next year, the recent Park City High School graduate and cross-country skiing standout will move up a division to race against athletes aged 19-22, and the competition will get tougher and more mature. The courses will also double in length.

"There’s a lot of good racers (in that division)," Putt said. "I’ll definitely have to step up my training over the winter."

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