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Wells, Gould win Boulder Cup Day 1

It was no day at the beach for the hundreds of professional and amateur ’crossers who competed in the opening round of the Boulder Cup, held Saturday on a sand-laden course at the Boulder Reservoir in Colorado. Todd Wells (GT) and Georgia Gould (Luna) took wins in the elite races, which stood as the fifth of eight round of the North American Cyclocross Trophy (NACT).

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By Fred Dreier

2008 Boulder Cup, day 1: Wells and Trebon fought it out until the last lap.

2008 Boulder Cup, day 1: Wells and Trebon fought it out until the last lap.

Photo: Rob O’Dea

It was no day at the beach for the hundreds of professional and amateur ’crossers who competed in the opening round of the Boulder Cup, held Saturday on a sand-laden course at the Boulder Reservoir in Colorado. Todd Wells (GT) and Georgia Gould (Luna) took wins in the elite races, which stood as the fifth of eight round of the North American Cyclocross Trophy (NACT).

Long used by local ’cross promoters, the Boulder Reservoir owns a reputation for rewarding riders with strong legs, precise handling and good luck. The winding, bumpy course is predominantly flat and is covered in spiky goat-head thorns. Corners are dusty and loose. Long sections of sand test the lungs and the legs.

Promoters didn’t disappoint with their course design in 2008 — riders skirted the water’s edge twice, plowed through a deep volleyball court and finally embarked on a painfully long ride through a rim-deep beach.

“You have to be able to ride sand to do well here — that’s for sure,” said local Jonathan Baker (Vitamin Cottage). “And you can’t wash out in the gravel, but you have to power through the flats.”

Baker, arguably Boulder’s strongest ’crosser, appeared motivated to perform in front of the home town crowd, grabbing the hole shot and stringing out the elite men’s field. The heads of state of American cyclocross quickly cued up at the front — Kona’s Ryan Trebon and Barry Wicks Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com teammates Jeremy Powers and Tim Johnson, Wells and Jesse Anthony (Jamis) were all present.

By the second lap it was Trebon, Baker, Powers, Johnson and Wells that had survived the first wave of aggression. All eyes were on last year’s winner Trebon, who just days before the Boulder race came down with a nasty flu-like sickness. The lanky Kona rider didn’t seem too slowed by the bug, and threw in a number of powerful surges at the front.

2008 Boulder Cup, Day 1: They don't call it 'cross' for nothing. And it IS the Halloween weekend.

2008 Boulder Cup, Day 1: They don’t call it ‘cross’ for nothing. And it IS the Halloween weekend.

Photo: Steve Frothingham

“I have the (NACT) series to think about — I didn’t want Tim [Johnson] to win so I was really racing against him,” Trebon said. “I felt horrible. It wasn’t much fun.”

Wells spent the lion’s share of the race in second wheel, shutting down attacks by Trebon and Powers. The surges eventually shed Baker. Powers was next to follow. On the penultimate lap a surge by Trebon briefly shed Johnson

“Ryan attacked and I bridged. I told him as soon as I could breath I would take a pull,” Wells said. “By the time he slowed down and I took a pull he was gassed and I got a gap.”

Trebon and Johnson took turns trying to bring the GT rider back on the final lap. After Johnson crashed in the volleyball pit Trebon appeared to make headway on Wells in the long beach section, but the Kona rider was unable to shut it down by the line.

The victory marks the first big cyclocross win of the year for Wells. The 32-year-old Durango, Colorado, resident just finished his best-ever campaign in cross-country mountain biking, which saw him place 10th in the World Cup standings and represent the U.S. at the Beijing Olympics.

“My goal is ’cross nationals each year because the mountain biking season is so long it’s tough to take these early races serious,” Wells said. “It’s nice to get a win early.”

Gould is Golden

2008 Boulder Cup, day 1: Womens runner up Rachel Lloyd

2008 Boulder Cup, day 1: Womens runner up Rachel Lloyd

Photo: Rob O’Dea

2008 Boulder Cup, day 1: Trebon and Powers.

2008 Boulder Cup, day 1: Trebon and Powers.

Photo: Rob O’Dea

Like Wells, Gould was in Beijing to represent the United States in cross-country mountain biking — she finished 8th. But there was no question Gould deserved No. 1 at the Boulder Reservoir. The Luna rider sprung to an early lead on the opening lap and never looked back, finishing with a sizable gap on second place Rachel Lloyd (California Giant Strawberry).

“This is a tough course, there’s really no recovery,” Gould said. “You have the section with the sand and then barriers, and the road section is the only place to pin it. There was no place to take it easy.”

As she did at last weekend’s U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross opener in Louisville, Kentucky, Lloyd doggedly followed Gould, who was riding without the aide of teammate Katerina Nash. Nash is in Europe for the 2008 European Cyclocross Championships. Lloyd spent the majority of the day just a few seconds behind Gould, before the Luna widened the gap on the final lap. Lloyd was the only woman to ride the entire beach section, however it was debatable whether it ate into Gould’s advantage.

“I felt like it was saving my legs,” Lloyd said. “I rode it but I don’t’ know how much faster it was.”

Behind the two the fight for the final spot on the podium was waged by Colorado mountain biker racers Kerry Barnholt (Tokyo Joe’s), Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Gary Fisher) and Kelli Emmett (Giant). Barnholt, who represented the United States at the 2008 UCI Cyclocross world championships, out sprinted Emmett for third.

Further back series leader Amy Dombroski (Velo Bella) struggled in the sand. The Vermont native sprung to an early third-place placing, but faded to sixth. The finish was good enough to maintain her series lead with three NACT races remaining.

“All of these other girls weren’t at the first two [NACT] races, so holding the jersey is definitely my goal,” Dombroski said. “My plan was to try and stay on Georgia and Rachel’s wheels, because they’re riding wicked strong. I was there for about 500 meters or so.”

Race Notes

The Boulder Reservoir race with its lengthy beach section proved a platform for the nation’s best cyclocross riders to showcase their sand-riding skills. So what’s the best way to make it through long sections of the loose stuff?

“You stay on the gas and look far ahead,” said Tim Johnson. “If you look really far down the line you’ll probably be able to make it.”

“You gotta get up to maximum velocity before you hit the sand, then lean back and go BRAAAAAP! as long as you can,” said Barry Wicks. “It’s all about holding your momentum.”

“I go hard into it and see how far you can get — sometimes it’s just faster to run it,” said Georgia Gould. “You don’t want to get off after you’ve come to a complete stop. If you can get off before you stop then you can keep that momentum instead of wasting three seconds.”

“You should pick the good line that’s already in the sand because you can pretty much coast through it if you have enough speed,” said Wells. “Save some energy before the pit so you can give it a big burst.”

2008 Boulder Cup
Preliminary Results

Men

1. Todd Wells, GT
2. Ryan Trebon, Kona
3. Tim Johnson, Cannondale-Cyclocross.world.com

Women
1. Georgia Gould, Luna
2. Rachel Lloyd, California Giant Strawberry
3. Kerry Barnholt, Tokyo Joe’s

Photo Gallery

Results

2008 Boulder Cup
Preliminary Results

Men

1. Todd Wells, GT
2. Ryan Trebon, Kona
3. Tim Johnson, Cannondale-Cyclocross.world.com

Women
1. Georgia Gould, Luna
2. Rachel Lloyd, California Giant Strawberry
3. Kerry Barnholt, Tokyo Joe’s