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Carter Lake Road Race - NE
Colorado, April 19, 2003
Another Classic - Served hard Colorado style
By Nathan Busch, Trek/VW team writer
If the Boulder Roubaix is supposed to be the scaled down, Colorado-version of the Paris Roubaix, then the Carter Lake Road Race, with its short, steep climb and rolling and typically wind-swept roads should be the representation of one of the other, hillier classics such as the Tour of Flanders or Amstel Gold.
This early season Colorado classic consisted of 5 laps for a total of 85 miles. Many who have been around the peloton for a while have likened it to the Morgul Bismarck road race, also formerly in CO, or the Visalia road race in California. Not a pure climber's race, but not a race in which you can get away with being a complete non-climber, either.
This year, as last, the race was nearly cancelled due to predictions of inclement weather. On the night before the race, the chief referee decided to give the thumbs up to let the race proceed. And proceed it did, under conditions ranging from down-pouring rain and breeze to just clouds and wind.
The Pro 1/2 men's race was only slow for the first 3 miles. At that point, the riders took a right hand turn that sent them up a gradual hill in a moderate tail-crosswind. The pace continued to be steadily fast until the race winded out of a canyon and was met with a full on gutter-wind for the next 5 miles. The peloton became strung out and even fragmented at times as riders - often crossing the center line - struggled not to have to be left out to dry in the wind. The pace temporarily subsided just before the race hit "the climb" for the first time. As the road became sheltered by a canyon, the riders were no longer having to fight the wind, so riders weren't able to use the wind as an asset to an attack in this section, either. As soon as the peloton hit the nine percent grade of the climb, Kevin Nichol of Monsoon racing accelerated dramatically, forcing the peloton back into several small groups and causing ¼ of the field to get dropped within three minutes.
The pace slowly deflated back down as the race rolled along the road above the lake and foothills. Mike Ley of Monsoon racing managed to slip away solo at this time, as the rest of the field held back to catch its breath. Back to the tailwind, gradual hill section on the next lap, and the pace had increased while the number of riders remaining had decreased. Several attacks nearly escaped here - but not quite. When the peloton hit the crosswind section, again, the field was once again fragmented and strung out to make it nearly a quarter-mile long-despite the fact that only 40 riders remained in that field. Ley was quickly caught. Once again, the pace slowed in the canyon, and once again the racers completely throttled it as they hit the 3-minute long, steep climb.
This time, Will Frischkorn and Tim Johnson, both of team Saturn, along with Monsoon riders Kevin Nichol and John Stierwalt, Subaru rider Ang Sheldrake, and Rocky Mtn. Cycling Education Foundation rider Sheldon Deeney managed to establish a significant enough gap to stay away. Behind them, a couple of small chase groups developed.
This group of six built up nearly a 2-minute lead over the next chase group during the next lap. On that next lap while riding on the tailwind/uphill section, Subaru rider Colby Pearce and Trek/VW Colorado rider Jeff Hartman managed to slip away from the field in pursuit of the break away. Since both of these riders are known for being exceptionally good time-trialists, the race was likely to remain quite interesting.
Up ahead, the breakaway had disintegrated, somewhat, as first Nichol, then Sheldrake and Deeney had dropped off. Each of these riders, except for Deeney, was caught and then dropped by the Hartman/Pearce time trial machine, proving once again that the race isn't really just about the climb.
On the final trip up that climb, The Saturn duo attacked the single Monsoon rider John Stierwalt, despite his courageous efforts to keep up. Johnson and Frischkorn came in together, arms raised in tandem, while Stierwalt rolled in only a few seconds later. Behind, and rolling in for fourth place, came Colby Pearce. Next came Hartman and Deeney, finishing fifth and sixth respectively. For Sheldon Deeney - still a junior - this was an excellent result.
Images by Beth Seliga/www.3catsphoto.com
Men 1 Tim Johnson (Saturn) 2 Will Frischkorn (Saturn) 3 John Stierwalt (Monsoon) 4 Colby Pearce (Subaru) 5 Jeff Hartman (Trek/VW) Women 1 Katrina Grove (T-Mobile) 2 Kori Kelly (Diet Rite) 3 Renee Eastman (Vitamin Cottage)