Zinger Cycling Challenge - NE

Colorado, USA, July 15, 2000

Anna Wilson's report

Moninger lives up to expecations

By John Alsedek, cyclingnews.com correspondent

When the Zinger Cycling Challenge was unveiled this past winter, I asked Nutra Fig's Ron Schmeer whether he'd be riding or not. His response stuck in my mind: "Heck, no! There's no way I'm coming all that way to get my butt handed to me by Scott Moninger and a bunch of guys from Boulder!" As it turned out, Schmeer's semi-tongue-in-cheek response was right on the mark, as Moninger won, and Boulder, CO natives swept the top five spots. But even Schmeer wouldn't have predicted that three of those five would be mountain bikers, as the dirt riders doled out a few lessons to their tarmac-pounding brethren.

Before the 9:30 am start in front of the historic Hotel Boulderado- which was attended by such former Red Zinger/Coors Classic luminaries as Davis Phinney, Ron Kiefel, Thomas Prehn, and Mark Pringle, there was a palpable air of anticipation. Anticipation of what exactly depended on who you talked to....

Henk Vogels, Mercury: "The thing I'm most scared about is being on the bike for eight hours. You're gonna get tired, and there are going to be guys that're pretty desperate to get back on and they're gonna be guys...well, not going off the edge, but stacking it - so I hope they stay away from me!"

Scottie Weiss, Zaxby's: "My teammates and I have been here for a week or two, just getting used to the altitude. We've ridden parts of the course...that Guanella Pass - that's a mountain biker's course! You might want a 'cross bike for that..."

Josh Collingwood, Jelly Belly: "It's going to be awfully hard, eh? We just arrived last night, but hopefully we'll be okay."

Lewis Elliot, U.S. National: "That Guanella Pass, it's just ridiculously hard!"

However, Nutra Fig's Skiles Keith summarized the feelings of the majority in eight words: "It's gonna be a hell of a race."

That didn't stop the early adventurers, as Nick Kiernan of the Rod East VW/Sugoi Texas composite team (which had begun forming immediately after the race was announced, even going so far as to open a website) attacked as soon as the neutralized section out of Boulder ended. Kiernan quickly gained 30 seconds on a disinterested peloton, but it was an advantage that disappeared instantly once the road began tilting upwards, as the trio of the aformentioned Collingwood, Trent Klasna (Saturn), and Brendon Vesty (Navigators) took off and built up a lead of four minutes by the ten-mile mark, with Kiernan and his teammate Chris Powers midway between. It wasn't long before the Texans had been reeled in by the 100-man field, but the leaders continued to gain time; even after Collingwood dropped back as the pitch steepened near the summit of the Category 1 Wondervu climb, Klasna and Vesty stretched their lead to 6:20 as they made the fast descent and immediately began the second climb to the Golden Gate Road KOM.

That's when the wheels fell off the break: Klasna lost contact early, regained some time on a brief descent, but was over two minutes back by the time Vesty crested the top and closed in on a $5,000 prime in the gambling community of Black Hawk. Vesty took that prime, as well as a $1500 prize offered in nearby Central City before beginning Climb #3: the second-category Oh My God Road, which would more than live up to its name.

As the ascent switched from macadam to dirt, Vesty began to lose time to a chase group that included several members of the Tokyo Joes composite team, as well as mountain biker Jess Swiggers (Trek-VW/Nutra Fig). Then came the descent which earned Oh My God Road its name: a dirt two-lane with no guardrails, numerous switchbacks, and several hundred feet of empty air should someone miss one of them (fortunately, there were no serious accidents all day). It obviously wasn't to Vesty's liking, as the 20-year old Swiggers, virtually unknown to most of the field, took back Vesty's two-minute lead...and then some.

By the bottom, Swiggers had 2:06 on the 30 or so riders still in contention, and had stretched that to 3:45 at the 65-mile mark, when he began the 12-mile climb to 11,671-foot Guanella Pass. At that point, Swiggers' lead began to plummet, due to the hardcore efforts of U.S. Postal's Christian Van de Velde (riding here for Tokyo Joes). Having told his teammates before the race that he was unlikely to finish, Van de Velde was setting the stage for his teammates-for-the-day, Carl and Pete Swenson, by setting a scorching pace up the climb. His efforts left the likes of Vesty, Chris Horner (Mercury), John Lieswyn (Shaklee), and Clark Sheehan (7 UP/Colorado Cyclist) floundering in his wake.

Still he carried on; by the midway point of the climb, only Eddy Gragus (Jelly Belly), Scott Moninger (Mercury), Chris Wherry (Saturn), and the mountain-biking Swenson brothers were on his wheel, prompting Carl to ask Van de Velde jokingly, "So, how much longer ARE you gonna go?" Not much longer, as it turned out: after surprisingly ditching dark horse favorite Gragus (who would later abandon), Van de Velde abruptly turned around on the course and headed back down just as the road pitched more steeply upwards and turned to dirt. And then it began to rain...

The chasing trio (Pete Swenson was dropped with two miles to go on the ascent) was ninety seconds behind Swiggers as they began the rocky descent. Swiggers flatted twice and was passed by Wherry, who then flatted twice himself, and was passed by Moninger, who had switched to a mountain bike at the summit. However, he was rejoined by Wherry and Carl Swenson by the bottom, with Swiggers and Pete Swenson 1:30 back. That remained the status quo for a while, as none of the three leaders were working particularly hard (both Moninger and Swenson had teammates chasing that they were hoping might join them).

They WERE joined...but by former leader Swiggers, who chased hard on the flat section between Kenosha Pass and Red Hill Pass. When he finally got them, Swiggers immediately went to the front on the Category 4 Red Hill Pass, where the leading quartet had 5:10 on Pete Swenson, 5:46 on Mercury's Floyd Landis, and considerably more on the 20 or so remaining riders. After a brief descent into South Park, they prepared for the final showdown on 11,547-foot Hoosier Pass...and what a showdown it was.

Moninger launched an attack with three miles to go on the ascent that gapped the gallant Swiggers, but Wherry quickly covered the move. As the temperature dropped into the 40's, the attacks continued: Moninger attacked twice more, then Swenson gave it a go, then Moninger again. Finally, with two miles to the summit, Moninger launched a fifth attack that proved to be the decider (said Moninger afterwards, "I countered an attack by Carl, and had enough left for one more good dig"). The Mercury man soon had 20 seconds...then 30...then 40 over Carl Swenson by the summit, and even more over the clearly-fried Wherry: "I responded to a couple of Scott's attacks, but I knew there was very limited response there".

That was basically the race; Swenson gamely let it all hang out on the descent to the finish in Breckenridge, but was never able to gain much time, ultimately finishing 1:20 down on Moninger, with Wherry a further minute in arrears. From there on, it was a death march to the finish: of the 20 finishers, 15 of them were more than 20 minutes behind.

Meanwhile, the women had already competed in a 45-minute criterium in scenic Breckenridge, using the same finishing circuit as the men would later. Conducted in an unusual miss-and-out format, the women did ten laps of the course, and then began the miss-and-out section, with the last rider through on each lap being eliminated. Timex's Mari Holden, just returning to racing after an illness that had knocked her out of the HP Women's Challenge in June, showed that the layoff hadn't slowed her down much, taking enough intermediate sprints to capture the day's Saturn Teamwork Challenge award. However, even Holden was unable to match Saturn speedster Nicole Reinhart in the final dash to the line. Reinhart's teammate Dede Demet-Barry finished third.

Thus ended the Zinger Cycling Challenge - the first, but probably not the last, if Celestial Seasonings chairman Moe Siegel's reaction means anything: hanging out the window of a race vehicle at the summit of Oh My God Road, he simply said, "This is SO cool!" That it was: the Zinger Cycling Classic - one race that truly lives up to its name.

Anna Wilson's report

Last Saturday we raced a criterium in Breckenridge - at an altitude of about 10,000 feet. It was an unusual criterium - the first 15 laps were raced as usual but after that, every lap the last rider across the line was pulled out of the race until only 3 riders remained. They then sprinted for the first 3 places.

We had a good team for the altitude since Dede Demet, Julie Hanson and myself are all based in Boulder - at an altitude of 5,500 feet. Nicole Reinhart and Suzanne Sonye rounded out the team. We wanted Nicole to win since she is leading the Protour series of races and this was another Protour event. So we hoped she would make it into the final group of 3 riders to sprint out the finish.

From the start the pace was quite high with some intermediate sprints breaking things up a bit. It soon became obvious that many riders were suffering a lot with the altitude. Nicole looked fine and so it was in our interest to keep the pace hard. With a lot of attacks from Dede, we managed to end up with a lead group of 6 riders - Dede, Nicole and myself for Saturn, plus Mari Holden (Timex), Anke Erlank (Autotrader) and another rider I don't know the name of. We worked well together until all the other riders had been eliminated from the race. Once it was our turn to start getting eliminated, Dede attacked again and took Mari with her. I took Nicole to the front of our group of 4 riders and Anke Erlank was eliminated.

On the next lap, the rider who shall remain unnamed attacked and Nicole went with her so I was eliminated. But the increase in the pace allowed Nicole to bridge the gap to Mari and Dede the next time round so that with one lap to go, the three riders left were Nicole Dede and Mari - a great position for Saturn. Dede led Nicole out for the finish and Nicole didn't disappoint, outsprinting Mari to take out the race.

Two days later I flew to Europe to join the National team in Italy. We are in Livigno at the moment - a beautiful place at altitude in the mountains. I will be here for a week before travelling to Germany to compete in the 6-day Thuringen tour.


Men - 222 km

1. Scott Moninger (USA) Mercury Cycling Team           7.17.34 (30.50 km/h)
2. Carl Swenson (USA) Tokyo Joes International            1.20
3. Chris Wherry (USA) Saturn                              2.20
4. Jess Swiggers (USA) Trek-VW/Nutra Fig                  4.15
5. Pete Swenson (USA) Tokyo Joes International           20.37
6. Floyd Landis (USA) Mercury Cycling Team               21.29
7. John Lieswyn (USA) Shaklee                            27.13
8. Will Frischkorn (USA) Mercury Cycling Team            27.22
9. Clark Sheehan (USA) 7 UP/Colorado Cyclist             28.52
10. Brendon Vesty (NZl) Navigators                       
11. Bart Bowen (USA) Saturn                              
12. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) Rocky Mounts            30.19
13. Jimi Killen (USA) Monsoon Racing                     30.37
14. Zachery Vestal (USA) Trek-VW/Nutra Fig               31.44
15. Jon Heidemann (USA) Vitamin Cottage/Morgul Bismark   34.25
16. Frank Mapel (USA) Trek-VW/Nutra Fig                  37.56
17. Steve Crowley (USA) Vitamin Cottage/Morgul Bismark   39.55
18. Dario Falquier (USA) Alto Velo/WebCor/Quicken.com    43.41
19. Mike Ley (USA) 7 UP/Colorado Cyclist                 48.14
20. Nathan Dahlberg (NZl) Tokyo Joes International       

Women - 45 minute miss-and-out criterium

1. Nicole Reinhart (USA) Saturn
2. Mari Holden (USA) Timex
3. Dede Demet-Barry (USA) Saturn
4. Sarah Konrad (USA) Lakewood Racing
5. Anna Wilson (Aus) Saturn
6. Anke Erlank (RSA) AutoTrader.com
7. Kimberly Smith (USA) Timex
8. Karen Dunne (USA) Elita
9. Kori Kelly (USA) Procter & Gamble/Women's Health
10. Julie Hanson (USA) Saturn
11. Kimberly Bruckner (USA) AutoTrader.com
12. Andrea Ratkovic (USA) AutoTrader.com
13. Jenny Eyerman (USA) Jane Cosmetics
14. Suzanne Sonye (USA) Saturn
15. Pam Schuster (USA) AutoTrader.com
16. Tiffany Pezzulo (USA) Proteus.com
17. Allie Warfel (USA) DeFeet
18. Beth Leasure (USA) AST
19. Rebecca McClintock (USA) Jane Cosmetics
20. Marjon Marik (USA) AutoTrader.com
21. Katherine Burkhead (USA) Monsoon Racing
22. Gail Longenecker (USA) Lakewood Racing
23. Margell Abel (USA) Verita
24. Annabelle Vowels (Aus) unattached
25. Tina Mayolo (USA) AutoTrader.com
26. Bridgette Evans (USA) unattached