Steamboat cyclist tops team in hometown stage of Colorado Classic
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Amy Charity made a triumphant return to professional cycling in the Colorado Classic.
After not riding for four years, the Steamboat Springs resident competed Thursday in the first stage of the only women’s UCI 2.1 designated pro road race in the nation, finishing first among her teammates and 27th overall.
“I’m back,” Charity said. “Turns out it’s never too late to do this stuff.”
At 37, Charity retired after three years of professional cycling. In her short career, she earned a team time trial National Championship while on the U.S. National Team and rode in the World Championships.
Following a four-year hiatus, Charity joined the DNA Pro Cycling Team this season. Charity, at 42, was one of the older riders in the Colorado Classic field, but she was also one of the fastest. She came across the line with a time of two hours, two minutes and 50 seconds, the fastest of all the DNA riders.
Melania Beal was the next DNA rider to cross the line, clocking in at 2:26.14. Heather Fischer, Brenna Wrye-Simpson and Kimberly Lucie all came in after the 2:30 mark.
Charity thinks her skill on gravel is one of the reasons she was selected to participate in the Colorado Classic out of the many DNA members. She’s been riding gravel a lot lately, which she thinks gave her an edge over her teammates, which specialize in criterium, or closed circuit racing.
The next three stages, which take place in Avon, Golden and Denver, are primarily circuit races, making the one lap Stage 1 unique.
Steamboat offered a 5-mile section of gravel that challenged many of the riders. It included two climbs, the second being an opportunity for riders to earn the Queen of the Mountain title. Following that, there was a short rocky descent before hitting pavement once more.
Early on, Charity and the DNA team led the peloton, but as the race went on, the team dropped back and eventually split up.
“The race was aggressive. There was a lot of attacks,” Charity said. “We had people off the front, so it made it so the sprint wasn’t as relevant for us and then, it wasn’t as fast as I expected for the first QOM (Queen of the Mountain) and then everything blew up on the corkscrew.”
Ahead of SBT GRVL this past Sunday, a gravel race Charity was a partner in producing, she was featured in a video about the corkscrew near Oak Creek, a climb any local rider is familiar with.
Charity said knowing the terrain was certainly helpful at times, but as she climbed the corkscrew, she wished for blissful ignorance.
“I think knowing the course well is both a blessing and a curse, because I knew what was next,” she said. “I knew after the corkscrew we still had that last QOM and how hard that was. It was great to know it. They really picked an incredible loop.”
Since the next three races favor her teammates, Charity may not finish in the front again, taking more of a supportive role for the more technically-inclined riders.
“We’re gonna really go for jerseys,” Charity said. “The next three stages really suit my five teammates, so I think we’ll go for really aggressive racing and stage wins and jerseys. For me personally, we’ll see what they have in mind for me.”
Charity doesn’t know how long she’ll remain in professional cycling this time around, but she’s glad she returned for this event.
“I just couldn’t pass up racing in Steamboat,” she said. “The Colorado Classic, I think, is doing more than just bike racing. It is literally a movement for women’s cycling.”
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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