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Everest Challenge Stage Race - NE
Bishop, CA, June 7-8, 2003
Hudson climbs Everest
Top climber shows top form at everest challenge
By Amanda Jones
What is possibly the most difficult 2-day USCF event of the year, the Everest Challenge, turned into a climbing showcase for Southern California rider Ron Hudson. His dominant performance over the two days and 29,000+ feet of climbing - while imposing his will on a field that included Gila and Bisbee winner Drew Miller, SoCal climbing legend Chris Walker, and Webcor climber Greg Drake - confirmed his place among the nation's elite climbers.
And despite the high quality of competitors, Hudson never appeared to be challenged, handily winning both stages and taking maximum points at 5 of the 6 KOM points. In fact, the only time he wasn't first across the top of a climb was on day two when a lone rider managed to break away on the descent of the first climb and stayed away until just after the second - there Hudson took second.
But other than that one blemish, it was Ron Hudson all the time, starting with the KOM at the end of the first climb of stage one - a 22-mile climb to 10,250' and the "Cima Coppi", the high point of the two days. Until that point Ron maintained a low profile, which had dwindled down to a select group of six riders. However with 500 meters from the KOM, Hudson attacked so viciously and suddenly that he opened up an enormous gap within a matter of seconds.
Stage one (15465' of climbing in 102 miles) played out with Hudson surging repeatedly on the second climb - cutting the group to four - and easily covering an attack by RPM's Chris Walker. Then on the final 20-mile Hors Categorie climb to the finish, with 12 miles to go, Hudson surged ahead and opened up a 30-second gap - attempting to break up the group. The move worked - cracking Walker and Drake - with only Drew Miller attempting to come back to terms with Ron.
Seeing the devastation, Hudson sat up and waited for Miller to close the gap. From there the two riders worked together for the next three miles. Finally, with 15k to go, Ron attacked. The move was quickly marked by Drew who then countered with a vicious attack of his own and opened up a gap. Hudson then launched a counter-attack of his own - one that Miller had no answer for - and opened the gap that would eventually see him finish 31 seconds ahead.
The only bad news for Ron on the day was that the strap on his helmet broke causing him to take it off and earning him a 20-minute time penalty. So, although he won the stage, he was 19:29 off the lead and fourth on GC after stage one. Drake finished in third and Walker fourth (7 and 9 minutes back respectively).
The second stage (13570' of climbing in 62 miles) played out pretty much like the first leaving Hudson, Miller, Walker and Drake to battle it out on the 21-mile climb to the finish at 10,100'. And again it was a Hudson attack that dropped Walker and Drake. From there, Drew and Ron rode together over the last 10k of 10 - 12% grades. But this time Ron waited until the 5k to go to attack Miller. Coming around a 17% switchback, Hudson took the inside line and "dropped the hammer" - accelerating away from Miller, and never letting up over the last 2 miles of the steady 10% gradient - finishing 1:03 in front of a battling Miller.
Walker finished third and Drake fourth, but there was no change in the overall G.C. When asked about the final result Hudson said, "Well... it's the first time I've ever won and lost at the same time, but I'm pleased with my performance. This was the toughest race I've done all year... the course and the competitors - they were both really, really tough. I mean, damn... Drew is one hell of a rider... Walker and Greg too! The penalty? Well, I'm just happy that they didn't DQ me. It wasn't my fault, but just the same."
Images by Steve Schmunk
Stage 1 Pro/1/2 Men 1 Ron Hudson (Sportsbook.com) 6.07.54 (20 minute time penalty for no helmet) 2 Drew Miller (Landis/Trek/VW) 0.31 3 Greg Drake (Webcor) 7.39 4 Chris Walker (RPM) 10.05 Pro/1/2 women 1 Ginger Buller 8.04.29 Stage 2 Pro/1/2 Men 1 Ron Hudson (Sportsbook.com) 4.25.26 2 Drew Miller (Landis/Trek/VW) 1.03 3 Chris Walker (RPM) 3.55 4 Greg Drake (Webcor) 6.13 Pro/1/2 women 1 Ginger Buller 5.53.12 Final general classification 1 Drew Miller (Landis/Trek/VW) 10.34.54 2 Greg Drake (Webcor) 12.18 3 Chris Walker (RPM) 12.26 4 Ron Hudson (Sportsbook.com) 18.26 Pro/1/2 women 1 Ginger Buller (Velo Bella) 13.57.41