Tight races highlight Boulder UCI race
By Bryan Jew, VeloNews Senior Writer
With no SuperCup races west of Chicago this year, a UCI race in Boulder, Colorado, on Saturday was the next best thing, and Mongoose’s Marc Gullickson and Kona-Voicestream’s Gina Hall came away with the big wins.
The men’s race came down to the wire, as Gullickson had his hands full with another local favorite, Travis Brown (Trek-VW). Gullickson had just returned home to Boulder after three weeks on the East Coast for a SuperCup and some UCI races, while Brown had only done a handful of local races this fall. But when the dust cleared after the first half of the race, it was Brown hanging right with the 1999 national champion.
The UCI designation drew only a handful of out-of-towners, most notably Jonny Sundt (K2) and Will Black (Lone Star). The strong local field made up for the lack of visitors, though, and a fast early pace led to the emergence of six leaders on the rocky and dusty course – Gullickson, Brown, Alex Candelario (Big Shark-Cannondale), Frank Mapel (Yeti-Pearl Izumi), Christian McCarthy (FRCC) and Sundt.
A hard attack by Mapel would eventually set up the countermove that sprung Gullickson and Brown four laps into the race. When Mapel was caught, Gullickson took off, followed by Brown and Candelario. The others couldn’t match the pace, and Candelario soon fell back to join Sundt and Mapel in the chase behind.
The lead pair’s gap grew slowly, but by the time it hit 30 seconds with four laps to go, it was clearly down to a race between the two mountain-bike pros. Behind, Candelario crashed and got passed up by Todd Wells (Mongoose), and Sundt took off solo hoping to lock down third place. But Sundt couldn’t hold off a hard-charging Mapel on the last lap, and would have to settle for fourth.
Up ahead, neither Gullickson nor Brown could shake the other. “Once we got away we both tried a couple of attacks, but neither one of us could get away,” said Brown, “so it came down to that strategic cat-and-mouse at the end.”
An attack by Brown with two laps to go failed, but the Trek-VW rider thought he had one last card to play. “I was trying to set him up for the corner before the double barrier. I found a line inside that I thought was pretty good, but he saw me take it one lap and that last lap he took that inside line and I couldn’t get around him,” said Brown. “I think that was the race right there. After that, it was just a drag race to the finish, there wasn’t enough places pass.”
Leading through the remainder of the course and first into the final turn, Gullickson was able to easily outsprint Brown at the finish.
“It was good to be riding with someone up there,” said Gullickson. “Of course, I wouldn’t have been so nervous if I’d been by myself, but it’s good to be in the position going for the win with someone and having to think about it a little more.”
Having a UCI race in his backyard was a nice break for Gullickson, who will be back on the road to Pennsylvania next week and then Chicago after that. “For me, it was a more important race, because I’m trying to keep my UCI points,” he said. “It’s just too bad there’s not a bigger national series, but I’ll travel to the UCI races and just treat those as the national races.”
Hall, too, spent most of October on the East Coast, and was also happy to do something a little closer to her California home. “[One] reason I wanted to do this race was to support the UCI race on the West Coast … it’s the only one,” she said.
Although Hall was the only SuperCup regular to make the trip out to Colorado, she still had her hands full, particularly with local rider Melissa Thomas (Rocky Mounts). Two laps into the race, it was Thomas and Hall alone at the front, chased by Heather Szabo (Rocky Mounts-IMBA), Kerry Barnholt (SoBe-HeadShok) and Lisa Matlock (Jamba Juice).
Hall knew it wouldn’t be an easy race. “I knew that Melissa was gonna be strong, and she definitely was strong, and it wasn’t easy to beat her,” said Hall. “I definitely needed to sit on her wheel. I could tell she’s got a lot of power.”
For two laps in the middle of the race, Hall did just that, sit on Thomas’s wheel. And even when Hall attacked midway into the race, she couldn’t shake the Colorado rider. But when Hall went again, this time with two laps remaining, she finally got the gap she needed, and soloed away to the win. Behind, Szabo took third, followed by Barnholt and Matlock.
“I’m happy with the win, I’m really excited,” said Hall. “I didn’t expect to win, I just thought I’d come out and see how it went. And definitely Melissa put up a good fight.”
1. Gina Hall, Kona-Voicestream, 43:46; 2. Melissa Thomas, Rocky Mounts, at 0:19; 3. Heather Szabo, Rocky Mounts-IMBA, at 2:13; 4. Kerry Barnholt, SoBe-HeadShok, at 2:34; 5. Lisa Matlock, Jamba Juice, at 2:51; 6. Kelli Emmett, Clif Bar, at 3:22; 7. Anne Lannan, Veritas, at 3:39; 8. Margell Abel, Veritas, at 4:36; 9. Lora Heckman, Laurel Street, at 4:56; 10. Leslie Lowery Abate, BWCT, at -1 lap.;
1. Marc Gullickson, Mongoose-Hyundai, 1:01:20; 2. Travis Brown, Trek-VW, at 0:01; 3. Frank Mapel, Yeti-Pearl Izumi, at 0:24; 4. Jonny Sundt, K2, at 0:27; 5. Todd Wells, Mongoose-Hyundai, at 0:38; 6. Will Black, Lone Star, at 1:09; 7. Alex Candelario, Big Shark-Cannondale, at 1:12; 8. Brandon Dwight, Trek-VW, at 1:16; 9. Steven Zdawczynski, Ellsworth, at 1:21; 10. Chuck Coyle, THF, at 2:30.