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Homer cyclist Kristen Faulkner crushes competition in West Virginia to claim first national championship

by | May 21, 2024 | Cover Story, Cycling

Homer’s Kristen Faulkner celebrates her first national championship. Photo by Snowy Mountain Photography

Kristen Faulkner didn’t have to sweat out her first national championship. Even though the 127-kilomter road race was up for grabs early, once the 31-year-old pro cyclist from Homer put her foot down, it was a wrap.

Faulkner was fabulous down the stretch as she pulled away from an eye-popping 56-second victory over 2019 winner Ruth Edwards and finished in just under three and a half hours to win the women’s elite race at the USA Cycling Road National Championships last week in Charleston, W.V.

The racecourse challenged riders with 1,120 feet of elevation gain, including a hill near the finish where Faulkner made her move.

“We’ve seen throughout Kristen’s career, and especially this spring, how strong she’s been. And I was happy to keep the gap to her that I could,” Edwards told Cycling News.

“I just tried to suffer the best I could. But she’s really freaking strong, and just had a bit more to open that gap on me on the climb.”

Faulkner is one of the best hill climbers on the Women’s World Tour and flexed her strength out of the saddle at crunch time as her winning margin stretched to 5 minutes, 39 seconds over the bronze medal finisher.

It was tough to tell which was more brutal – a race that saw 59 of 80 riders drop out or Faulkner, who destroyed the field for her fourth win of 2024.

“I felt pretty confident on the climbs that I could attack on the last climb,” Faulkner said. “I didn’t want to take (Ruth Edwards) to the line.”

Four days earlier Faulkner had lost out on a chance to claim a national title when she finished in second place in a 33-K time trial, 11 seconds back. She didn’t let this race slip away.

Her performance at the USA Cycling Road National Championships has been indicative of her breakout season that includes seven podiums in 22 starts and four of her 11 career victories. Earlier this month, she won Stage 4 of the Grand Tour in Spain and earlier this season she posted two stage wins in the Trofeo Ponente and won the Omloop van het Hageland.

“It feels great. It feels like a culmination of a lot of work and a really good season so far this year,” Faulkner said.

“We’re an American team, and to have the American jersey is really special.

“I’ve never had it before.”

Homer’s Kristen Faulkner rocking the Stars and Stripes.

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