For Allen Abell, a national championship has been a long time coming.
Before raising a fist in celebration Sunday, the Texan had doubts that it would ever happen.
“I just thought it was out of reach. It was an amazing day,” Abell said.
Abell won the criterium portion of the USA Cycling Masters Road National Championships men’s 50-54 division to claim his first career national title. He finished first among the 59 cyclists to cross the finish line and did so in 46:24.
Abell, who has been riding for 20 years, owns nine state championships and has finished as high as fourth in nationals along with more top 10s, but the title had eluded him until his first trip to Augusta.
“It just feels like a dream come true,” he said. “I can’t believe it. It’s surreal. I was in the road race yesterday and I missed the winning breakaway. I just wasn’t going to let it happen again today, so I was lucky enough to bridge up to those guys who were at the front and stay with them and win the sprint.”
Abell topped friend and fellow Texan Chris Carlson, who finished runner-up at just a second behind Abell. Daniel Casper, from Minnesota, took third.
The day-long criterium events downtown Sunday marked the finale of the four-day masters nationals held across the area. The championships ranged from time trials to road races to criteriums and were held at J. Strom Thurmond Dam, Fort Gordon and downtown Augusta.
The criterium course covered 1.6 kilometers, starting on Greene Street and including James Brown Boulevard, and Ellis and Broad streets.
Other national title winners Sunday included California’s Jerome Nadel in men’s 55-59, Pennsylvania’s Aubrey Gordon in men’s 60-64 and Tennessee’s David Hixson in men’s 65-69.
Debbie Prouty, of Savannah, Ga., finished third in the women’s 40-44 division. Lauren Dagostino, of Columbia, took third in women’s 35-39.
Augusta previously served as host of the championships in 2011 and 2012. Response to the event has been positive during the four days in the area.
“It’s a beautiful town,” Abell said. “Incredibly genuine people. Salt of the earth people here in Augusta. I love it. It reminds me of where I’m from.”
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216