Los Altos, California - Team TIBCO full contingent of America riders are up in Bend, Oregon this week to compete in the women's U.S. Road Race and Time Trial National Championship races.

Competition for Team TIBCO kicks off Thursday with the Elite and U23 road race, where Brooke Miller returns as the defending national champion. The road race will cover 111km over four laps of the same course as the final stage of the Cascade Classic this past Sunday - the Aubrey Butte Circuit - which features a particularly steep climb which starts about 6 km from the finish each lap.

"It's a really good course, and also a really hard course this year," Brooke Miller said. "The past couple years, you had a pretty good idea of who would be there at the end to contest for the jersey. Last year, the course lent itself to a bunch sprint. Depending on how the race plays out this year, it could be a wide open race that favors more of an all-arounder. Honestly, this year I expect to be working my butt off to help my teammates, and the course is really well-suited to our team."

That team includes four riders who put in strong performances on this course last Sunday: Amber Rais, Katharine Carroll, Alison Starnes and Meredith Miller. All four finished in the top 15 overall at Cascade, with Rais finishing 2nd overall. Lauren Tamayo is another rider who could figure in the finish, as well.

"This really is a strong person's course," said Meredith Miller, one of the team's captains. "It's not a pure climber's course. If you have good legs and can get over the climbs you can do well on it. It's really hilly and there aren't too many places to rest and recover. Even after the main climbs there are false flats that you still need to kind of power through. The course offers a lot of places to attack.

"The circuit was hard on Sunday, but we were at the end of a six-day stage race," Meredith Miller added. "With three days of rest plus adding a lap, a lot gets thrown out the window. If the pace is easier, it could be a pretty big group at the end. If it's harder, then we're probably looking at a smaller group, which we'd like to have one or two riders in. I think that would be more advantageous for us. I think whomever comes to the end in the front group will be hurting. It's going to be a matter of who can dig deeper in the end."

All of the riders except Brooke Miller will also be contesting the Time Trial on Friday. Following her 2nd place in the ITT during Cascade a week ago, Starnes looks to be Team TIBCO's top threat to unseat reigning champion Alison Powers (Team Type 1). But Carrol, Rais and Meredith Miller also put in good rides last week, and Saturday's course covers the same terrain, with an extra roughly 10km added on to the end of the Cascade course.

Jerika Hutchinson, at 19 years old, will be going for the U23 road crown tomorrow, as well as the U23 time trial on Friday. She'll contest the U23 Criterium on Sunday.

Team TIBCO Roster for the Women's National Road and Time Trial Championships, July 30 - Aug. 2
Katharine Carroll
Jerika Hutchinson (U23)
Brooke Miller
Meredith Miller
Amber Rais
Alison Starnes
Lauren Tamayo

Photo (c) Jason Mancebo