The Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference started its season this weekend with a pair of criteriums in Boulder, Colorado, and Laramie, Wyoming. It was obvious from the start that the students had done their winter training. The racing was fast and furious, with many an underprepared rider winning a one-way ticket to Offbackistan.
Bikes & Buffaloes
The University of Colorado began the weekend with its customary crit course around the CU research park. With only one real turn and multiple bumps and cracks in the road, the racing was fast and marred with crashes.
First on course was the Men’s C field. Riders from Colorado School of Mines and Fort Lewis College strung out the steadily shrinking field in the 30-minute race, with many riders either dropped or caught in crashes. Griffin Foster (FLC) took the field sprint ahead of Nicolas Jimenez (Mines) and Peter Anderson (CU).
The 30-minute Women’s B race played out in a similar fashion, with Fort Lewis again stringing out the field from the gun. With five laps to go a four-rider break rolled off the front, containing Kaila Hart, Matilda Field, Brittany Clawson (FLC) and Lucy Conklin (CU). Hart took the final sprint ahead of Conklin and Field.
The Men’s B race started with a flurry of attacks brought back by an aggressive CU squad. Midway through the 45-minute race a dangerous break opened a 10-second gap with most teams represented. It was brought back by a strong chase led by DU’s John Fery. The stage was set for a field sprint, which was won by CU’s Connor Simmons ahead of Ryan Dorsey (FLC) and Zachary Recine (Mines).
The small Women’s A group split early on in their 45-minute race, with the lead group eventually lapping the field. Missy Erickson (FLC) took the win ahead of her breakaway companions Flora Duffy and Heather Fischer (CU).
The final collegiate race of the day, the Men’s A group, was marked by a dangerous eight-man breakaway containing a rider from every major team. The Fort Lewis riders left in the peloton, unhappy with their odds in the breakaway, brought the field back together with 25 minutes to go in the hourlong race.
With 10 laps to go, Mac Cassin of CU took a flyer and opened a sizable gap, but was caught with seven laps remaining. Once again, the race came down to a field sprint, won by Mesa State’s Richard Geng, ahead of Zack Allison (CSU) and Jesse Goodrich (CU).
The University of Wyoming held its Cowboy Crit in downtown Laramie, on a shortened version of the course used by the Dead Dog Classic, a local stage race. Racers were greeted with fierce winds and temperatures in the 40s.
The Men’s C field was first to start, and shattered early in the wind during the 25-minute race. A lead group quickly established itself, containing Griffin Foster (FLC), Howard Grotts (Mines), Matt Lyons (DU) and Joel Finkeldei (CSU). Lyons took the sprint ahead of Foster and Grotts.
Next up was the Women’s B field, which was also decimated by the wind and fast pace set by Fort Lewis. The lead group was eventually whittled down to four riders. With one lap to go in the 25-minute race, Kaila Hart (FLC) broke away with Lucy Conklin (CU) in tow. Conklin managed to come around Hart in the windy finishing straight for the win, while Hart’s teammate Matilda Field took third.
Following the norm set by earlier races, the Men’s B field broke apart after a long string of attacks and counterattacks. The early breakaway was brought back by an attentive FLC, dropping multiple riders in the process. Ryan Dorsey (FLC) attacked and opened a 25-second gap with five laps to go in the 40-minute race. His Fort Lewis teammates patrolled the front of the peloton, and Dorsey took a solo win.
The women’s A field broke the established trend, staying together throughout the 40-minute race. The women sprinted for primes, but refrained from attacking and seemed content with a field sprint. Sarah Sturm (FLC) triumphed on the windy finishing straight, ahead of Carly Rivezzo (CSU), and Missy Erikson (FLC).
By the time of the men’s A race the wind had shifted, giving the riders a crosswind on the long finishing straight and creating a hard day of racing that saw most riders spending a lot of time in the gutter.
CSU’s Zack Allison attacked on the first go-round and went on to lap the field with 15 laps to go in the 50-minute race. A chase group formed behind him, containing his teammates Dylan Jones and Trevor Connor, as well as Josh Yeaton (CU), and Eric Emsky (FLC).
The chase made little progress with Connor and Jones sitting up after Allison had lapped the field, and Yeaton took the sprint for second ahead of Emsky.