With a little help from some friends: Teammates make the difference in Steamboat Stage Race
Steamboat Springs — Cycling is a sport utterly defined by teams at its highest levels, and when the USA Pro Challenge rolled through Steamboat Springs last month, team strategy was at the center of every race decision made.
It’s a bit different at the Steamboat Stage Race, or at least it usually is. The Labor Day weekend event has often been an every rider for him or herself affair, but Monday, the top riders showed having a friend (or four) in the field can make all the difference in the world.
Those on hand to see the top men’s division race certainly got a taste of team tactics.
Michael Burleigh, a Telluride cyclist with the GS Ciao team, entered the day with a tight three second lead on the up-and-coming young Oregonian Adrien Costa, on a team, California Giant/Specialized, but alone on the weekend.
Try as he might — and he tried, almost constantly — he couldn’t get away during Monday’s stage — a one-hour criterium in downtown Steamboat Springs.
“It’s enormous,” Burleigh said, considering the impact of having a team to rely upon.
He had five other GS Ciao riders with him.
“This is a team sport practiced by individuals,” he said. “It tends to be individuals who get the glory, but it’s definitely a team sport.”
GS Ciao set the pace for much of the stage — the team’s five riders thundering away at the front. They sprinted ahead to ensure Costa couldn’t sneak in and claim a mid-race time bonus, and they set up the sprint at the end, too, as GC third-place finisher Josh Yeaton led out George Simpson to win the stage.
“Our first goal was to keep Burleigh in the lead, so we rode defensively,” Simpson said. “Josh led into the last corner and punched it, and I had nothing left to do besides finish it off.”
It was Burleigh’s third consecutive year in the race and his first win after previously finishing fourth and second. He ended up holding on to that three-second edge on Costa, who in turn had 2 minutes and 32 seconds on Yeaton.
“This is one of the best races on the Colorado calendar,” he said. “They do a fantastic job. It’s a well supported, great race, and it’s in Steamboat, so it’s a great weekend.”
Top women team up
The action was different but the story was the same in the women’s top division, where the DNA Cycling presented by K4 duo of Breanna Nalder and Lauren De Crescenzo dominated the race.
They had control from the start, placing first (Nalder) and third (De Crescenzo) in Saturday’s Stage 1 time trial.
The only rider between them was Steamboat Springs cyclist Amy Charity, who dropped out after the stage to prep for a training camp next week ahead of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia.
Nalder and De Crescenzo will both race there, as well, and showed all weekend how they earned that honor. They were a part of a small breakaway group in Sunday’s Stage 2 road race on Twentymile Road, and then Monday they rode hard at the front of the field downtown, setting a pace fast enough to prevent anyone from staging an upset bid.
Nalder ended up winning the GC easily, 1:07 ahead of anyone else, while De Crescenzo took the stage easily, bursting from the field after Nalder set a ferocious pace for the final three laps.
“I love this race. I love this town. I love the courses,” said Nalder, who was in it for her third time after placing third in 2013 and second in 2014.
De Crescenzo was second in the overall and Jannalyn Luttrell third.
Barkley Robinson was the highest-placing local racer in the top divisions, finishing 23rd in the senior men’s 1-2 division, 8:16 back of Burleigh. Matt Charity was 58th in that division.
Derek Teuscher was 21st in the men’s 40+ Cat 3 division. Simon Demby-Myers won Stage 3 in the senior men’s Cat 4 race and finished ninth in the overall. Garett Marino was third in the senior men’s Cat 5 GC and Eric Einfeld fifth.
Mark Satkiewicz was sixth in the men’s 40+ Cat 4 division and Nelson Carmichael ninth. Rick Schuette won the men’s 50+ Cat 4 with Brian Tate third and Jim Barker fifth.
Reilly Mewborn won the junior women’s 15-16 GC, and Waverly Gebhardt was second. Tyler Terranova won the junior men’s 15-16 group, ahead of Noel Keeffe in third and Wyatt Gebhardt in fifth. Evan Barbier won the junior men’s 17-18 class in a Steamboat sweep of the podium, with Simon Zink in second and Zach Mikkelson in third.
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A paper sign taped to the window of the Sears Hometown Store in Central Park Plaza marks the end of the road for the business’ 46-year-run in Steamboat Springs.