Specialized claims eight national titles in 48 hours

Specialized claims eight national titles in 48 hours

Cyclists competing in their national championships around the world won seven titles on Specialized bikes within 48 hours.

German Bert Grabsch, Belarusian Kanstantsin Siutsou, Latvian Gatis Smukulis, Irishman Matt Brammeier (all on team HTC-Highroad), Swede Gustav Larsson (Saxo Bank) and others won on the Specialized Shiv. Alberto Contador used the same carbon bike at the end of last month to clinch his second Giro d’Italia title in Milan.

Contador (Saxo Bank) placed third in the time trial today in Spain, practice for the time trials ahead of the Tour de France. The Tour features a team time trial on the second day in Les Essarts and an individual one on the penultimate day, July 23 in Grenoble.

Contador skipped the championships last year, but won the time trial title in 2009 prior to winning his second Tour. This year, he finished behind Luis León Sánchez and Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas.

Larsson used Specialized bike to finish the World Championships 10th last year and second in 2009, both times behind Fabian Cancellara on a Specialized bike. Yesterday, he claimed his fourth Swedish time trial title.

Smukulis won several Under 23 national titles, but yesterday’s win represented his first senior level title. It also marks a breakthrough season for the 24-year-old.

This spring, he won the opening road stage of the Volta a Catalunya stage race in Lloret de Mar on Specialized’s Tarmac SL3. He held the leader’s jersey for two days.

Smukulis was one of six new riders to join HTC this year. Prior, he raced for AG2R-La Mondiale. In addition to his time trial titles as an under 23 rider, he also won the Tour of Flanders.

“He has a great future ahead of him,” said HTC’s sports director, Alien Peiper this year. “Now people are taking notice.”

Brammeier took the Irish National ITT Championship today, keeping him in his Nation’s colors for the second year in a row after his 2010 victory in the Road Race Championships.

Grabsch’s fourth time trial title added to his 2008 world title. He and Judith Arndt gave Specialized a clean sweep today in Germany.

Evelyn Stevens (USA) and Clara Hughes (Canada) both won titles yesterday.

It “shows just how big an effort we put into our time trialling, equipment and backup,” HTC-Highroad manager, Rolf Aldag explained. And “how we make sure that everybody has a chance. We try to do things democratically in our team, to help every rider get the most out of themselves.”

Aldag’s HTC team won five time trial titles in the last 48 hours. Earlier in the week, HTC’s Emilia Fahlin won the time trial title in Sweden.

Other countries’ time trials are in the coming days, as well as road races.