By John Peel, VeloNews correspondent
Scott Price seemed to be smiling all the way from Durango to Silverton on Saturday. The Team Landis rider’s grin was even wider after he won a three-man sprint in the 30th annual Iron Horse Bicycle Classic road race. Price, 31, nipped Federico Ramirez (Cafe de Costa Rica/Pizza Hut), part of a four-person Costa Rican contingent, and Durango favorite Ned Overend (Specialized), who at 45 was looking to add to his four Iron Horse road race titles that he began accumulating in 1983. The three riders, along with Price’s teammate, Drew Miller, crested Molas Pass, the course’s last long climb, together. They played cat-and-mouse on the 8-mile descent into Silverton, nearly allowing a chase group to catch up. Miller led out Price on the short, final sprint to the finish, then pulled over to let the tall, lanky Price outsprint Ramirez and Overend. Price, of Phoenix, earned his third straight Iron Horse road race title in 2 hours, 14 minutes, 6 seconds. Price seemed to control the pack, looking fresh and ready to go with any possible break. But if he looked relaxed and smiling, he said, it was more of a strategic maneuver than the way he actually felt.
“I’m not complaining, because I won, but I wasn’t having that great a day,” Price said.
He vowed to keep competing in the 47-mile race, which includes 5000 feet of climbing and ascents of Coal Bank Hill (10,600 feet) and Molas Pass (10,900), as long as Overend is racing. “He’s such a cardiovascular mutant. He still almost drops us and wins the race,” Price said of Overend. Overend said it might be his last Iron Horse, but the 1990 World’s mountain bike champ, now a top off-road triathlete, has made similar statements before. Twenty minutes after he finished, Overend was whisked back to Durango with the help of a police escort along a highway closed to vehicles so he could catch a plane. Sunday he will be inducted into the Bicycling Hall of Fame in Somerville, N.J. – probably the only inductee still racing this weekend.
Ramirez, 25, led by as much as 35 seconds at the top of Coal Bank, the first major climb, but couldn’t hold his break as Price, Overend and Miller finally began a chase and caught Ramirez about a mile from the top of Molas.
Miller, who in a show of team unison crossed the finish line with Price to share top spot at last year’s Iron Horse, was four seconds off Price’s winning time. Ramirez’ Costa Rican teammate Jose Bonilla was fifth and U.S. Olympic mountain biker Travis Brown (Trek/Volkswagen), who was raised in Durango but now lives in Boulder, was sixth. Bonilla, Brown and 1998 Iron Horse road champion Burke Swindlehurst (seventh) all finished eighth seconds off the winning time.
The Costa Ricans, ranging in age from 19 to 25, will also compete in Sunday’s Iron Horse mountain bike race. The women’s race was a two-person duel, with Carolyn Donnelly of Albuquerque pulling away from Australian Mary Grigson (Gary Fisher) on the final mile of the Molas Pass climb to win by 38 seconds.
Donnelly, 36, started racing the Iron Horse in 1988 and had placed second, third and fifth, but never won. A graduate student in engineering, Donnelly did win the Division I women’s road title at the National Collegiate Cycling Association championships in Colorado Springs last week. At last year’s Iron Horse, she took second to Grigson, an Australian Olympic mountain biker who lives in Wheat Ridge, Colo.
But this year, Donnelly got her Iron Horse win, covering the course in a winning time of 2:40:43.