By Matt Pacocha
Andy Bajadali (Vitamin Cottage) and Ann Trombley (Excel Sports) stood atop the final podium at the Excel Sports Boulder Stage Race on Sunday, a double-stage day that began with a brutal hill climb and ended in a furiously contested criterium.
Racing began with the morning’s Sunshine Canyon Hill Climb, a 9-mile stage that climbed 3300 feet. In the men’s race, Chris Baldwin (Navigators Insurance) initiated the winning move early on the first steep pitch.
“There were six guys left, and I’m like, ‘God, this is the race,’” said. Andy Bajadali (Vitamin Cottage), who took second in front of Mitch Moreman.
Baldwin was delighted with his win. “How beautiful is this?” he said. “We are so lucky to have a classic race like this in our backyard.”
The women’s hill climb played out in similar fashion. The instigators were Ann Trombley (Excel Sports), who was looking to take the race lead from T-Mobile’s Mari Holden, and mountain biker Kerry Barnholt (Subaru-Gary Fisher).
Holden tried to match Trombley’s accelerations, but soon had to throttle back and ride at her own pace, eventually finishing fourth, while Trombley rode to the win ahead of Barnholt and Kim Anderson, (Colavita-Cooking Light).
“I love this stuff (climbing) – get into a rhythm and just go. I am just happy to win this one,” Trombley said.
Fast and furious
The Frasca Food and Wine North Boulder Park Criterium proved a hard-fought finale. In the 40-minute women’s race, the T-Mobile trio came out swinging, setting up Holden for the first of three time-bonus sprints. Lara Kroepsch initiated the lead-out and subsequent break, forcing Trombley to launch a solo chase.
“All I was doing was going hard to lead Mari out and I looked back and we had a huge gap, so we just went,” said Kroepsch.
“I was gassed,” Trombley said. “I was a little bit concerned about that first break, that I might not be able to catch up and then I didn’t have any help. Luckily Beth Fisk (Denver Spoke) helped. Once we got back on, I had a little breather and I was like, ‘That wheel (Holden) is mine,’ and I stayed with it the rest of the race.”
As T-Mobile and Trombley battled for the overall, Catherine Powers (TDS) concentrated on the stage win. She and Brooke Ourada (T-Mobile) got away at the end, with Powers proving fastest at the line. Kroepsch took the bunch dash for third.
“I knew T-Mobile was going to try to get a rider off, so I went with everything,” Powers said. “I also knew people were going to be really tired so I didn’t kill myself this morning in the hill climb.”
Ourada was content with her ride even though she lost the sprint. “It was my first time in a break in a crit, so it was really exciting for me,” she said.
The men’s race was just as hotly contested, exploding with an onslaught of attacks and aggressive racing. The first substantial break – Ian Macgregor (TIAA-CREF), Dan Schmatz (Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada), Christian McCarthy (Vitamin Cottage) and Kelly Ruddick (Pro Peloton) – went at 45 minutes into the hourlong race and quickly gained 20 seconds.
With six laps to go, Macgregor attacked the break and gained 15 seconds, riding solo for the next five laps. But with two laps to go Baldwin took up the chase and quickly started to reel in what was left of the break and Macgregor.
The break was caught with two to go, and Macgregor was overhauled at the start of the last lap. Schmatz led out of the last corner and delivered teammate Pete Lopinto to the line for the win.
“Baldwin was the man, he led it out so hard for me,” said Lopinto.
Overall race winner Bajadali was clearly happy. “It’s not NRC, but Vitamin Cottage is based here in Boulder. There was a great field and the crowd was great.”
Phil Zajicek (Navigators) tore ligaments in his right ankle when he crashed out of Saturday’s Boulder-Roubaix stage. “Right now I can’t put any weight on it,” he said. “It’s a bummer, especially after Baldwin and I went 1-2 in the time trial. Most likely this is going to take me out of Philly. It’s a bad time of year to get hurt, especially with Philadelphia being such a big race for the team.” He remains optimistic about the remainder of the season, though. “With luck I’ll be good for Fitchburg, Cascade and Altoona. Hopefully I’ll come around for those.”
Boulder Stage Race
Boulder, CO. May 13-15
1. Andrew Bajadali, Vitamin Cottage, 5:08:51
2. Chris Baldwin, Navigators, 5:09:07
3. Ian Macgregor, TIAA-CREF, 5:09:43
4. Chris Brennan, 5:10:43
5. Michael Lange, 5:10:54
1. Ann Trombley, Excel Sports, 3:55:09
2. Mari Holden, T-Mobile, 3:55:37
3. Kerry Barnholt, Subaru-Gary Fisher, 3:56:10
4. Kim Anderson, Colavita-Cooking Light, 3:57:22
5. Brooke Ourada, T-Mobile, 3:58:24
For complete results, see the Excel Sports Boulder Stage Race website.