Copyright USA Cycling

(March 28, 2017) – The U23 men’s program began the spring racing season with a bang as Ian Garrison (Decatur, Ga./AXEON Hagens Berman) finished second in a sprint finish at the single-day U23 Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday in Belgium.

Finishing in the lead pack of seven, Garrison was edged out at the line by Great Britain’s Jacob Hennesy, but finished ahead of Norway’s Rasmus Tiller to claim the second step on the podium in 4:22:55.

Garrison was part of an initial selection of 19 riders to break away, including teammates Zeke Mostov (San Francisco, Calif./Aevolo) and Sean Bennett (El Cerrito, Calif./Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis) who played an instrumental role in aiding Garrison to the podium. As the lead group tackled the harder climbs of the Kemmelberg and the Montelberg, the break was split but the three Americans remained entrenched in the lead pack of nine.

Mostov and Bennett shouldered much of the load to keep the break moving and Garrison fresh. Over the final climb, Mostov had given his all and was dropped. Then, with eight kilometers to go, Bennett flatted, leaving Garrison alone with the rest of the leaders who held off the chasing field before the line.

“The cool thing was that everyone played and integral role in Garrison getting on the podium,” said U23 manager Nate Wilson.

Behind the breakaway, Curtis White (Delanson, N.Y./Rally) and Logan Owen (Bremerton, Wash./Axeon Cycling) did a great job of looking after Neilson Powless (Roseville, Calif./Axeon Hagens Berman) all day. Their work gave Powless the opportunity to make it into a select group of 10 that nearly caught the breakaway before the finish. Powless sprinted to 14th at the line, 19 seconds back.

Bennett regrouped after the flat to finish 24th (+0:57). Mostov finished 43rd in a large group just behind Bennet, while White came in 54th (+5:00) and Owen placed 94th (+9:50) in the 147-man field.

Also on Sunday, the women’s Development Program raced the Gent-Wevelgem in Belgium with Abigail Youngwerth (Boise, Idaho/TWENTY20 Pro Cycling/Sho-Air TWENTY20 Development) and Megan Heath (Alpharetta, Ga./Rally Cycling Devo) leading the charge. Youngwerth and Heath finished 27th and 34th, respectively, in a large group that trailed the top-three finishers Pfieffer George (GBR), Amber van der Hulst (NED) and Lorena Wiebes (NED) by 55 seconds.

In a crash-filled race, most of the U.S. riders were caught up in a crash with one kilometer to go. Isabella Brookshire (Hendersonville, NC/TWENTY20 Pro Cycling/Sho-Air TWENTY20 Development) came across the line 83rd (+3:12), but Summer Moak (Phoenix, Ariz./TWENTY20 Pro Cycling/Sho-Air TWENTY20 Development) suffered a twisted ankle in the late-race crash and did not finish.