CRITERIUM KICKS OFF RACE WEEKEND
SUPERIOR, COLORADO, May 28, 2011 - Solid teamwork and cunning strategy were the difference makers for the winners of the pro men's and pro women's Summit Criterium on day one of the two-day Superior Morgul Classic bike race on Saturday in Superior, Colorado.
The men's 75-minute affair was dominated by the Boulder-based Horizon Organic-Panache team, which slotted three riders in the decisive six-man breakaway, including eventual race winner Josh Yeaton.
The women's race was also a numbers game, with Primal-MapMyRide teammates Megan Hottman and Casey Clark accounting for two-thirds of the winning move, along with Catherine Johnson (Big Ring Cycles). Hottman broke away with five laps to go in the 50-minute race, taking the win. Clark was next across, with Johnson settling for the third step of the podium.
"Once the break formed we knew we were in a good position," said Hottman, 32, a lawyer who focuses on cycling-related litigation when she's not racing bikes. "We were getting splits and the gap went from 30 seconds ahead, to 30 seconds from lapping the field. That was all we needed to hear."
Indeed, once it became clear there was no threats coming from the bunch behind, Hottman and Clark started teeing off on Johnson, attacking and counter-attacking. Johnson fought back gamely, but the pressure was too much on the rolling Town of Superior circuit that included a punchy climb up through the start finish line.
Hottman took off with five to go and never looked back.
"We live in Golden and used to drive to Durango for the Iron Horse, but the travel was no fun," said Hottman, praising the second-year Superior Morgul Classic. "When this event popped up last year we were so excited because it's right up the road, and it's great for the local cycling community."
No doubt the Horizon Organic-Panache team concurred. The regional development team led by former Olympian Colby Pearce place five riders in the top 12 of a 54-rider field, led by Yeaton, a 21-year-old University of Colorado-Boulder undergrad originally from Anchorage, Alaska.
Yeaton and teammates Scott Moninger and Alex Welch stacked the decisive break that also included Keith Harper (Juwi Solar-First Solar), Garret Suydam (Big Ring U-25) and Russell Harding (Natural Grocers).
After working together through the mid-portions of the race to assure they wouldn't be brought back, the six escapees started the cat-and-mouse games. Harper was the most aggressive, taking off with Yeaton on his wheel early in the last lap. But Moninger bridged across, setting up an unbeatable 2-on-1 during the dash to the line.
"I got off the front with Harper, but I didn't work because I had teammates behind," explained Yeaton, who also rides for the CU cycling team which is coached by Pearce. "I waited, Scott bridged, and then he led me out. I took off at 200 meters and it worked out perfectly."
Harper, 42, a website designer, held on for second, with Moninger trailing home in third, his mind now focused on the event's bigger prizes, the Morgul Bismarck Road Race and the event's overall Omnium title. Overall the race offers a $25,000 prize purse distributed between pros and amateurs.
"Our team goal today was to score points toward the omnium," said Moninger, 44, a much-decorated high-level professional for two decades who has now transitioned into a mentor role with his new team. "The team is in a great position for the overall now and we have a lot of bodies. But going up the wall it's whatever you have in the tank."
Racing at the Superior Morgul Classic continues Sunday with the Morgul Bismarck Road Race. Amateurs and pros will take on the famed 13.5-mile loop with 750 feet of vertical gain per lap. Pro men will do 6 laps starting at 11:20 a.m. The top women will tackle the circuit 4 times starting at 12:36 p.m.
The Superior Morgul Classic is a second-year event that brought cycling back to the famed Morgul Bismarck circuit, which featured prominently in the Coors Classic, and was the primary setting for the cult-classic Kevin Costner cycling movie, American Flyers.
Always a popular training route with Colorado's large cycling community, the Morgul Bismarck has been brought back into the racing fold. Overall the Superior Morgul Classic offers $25,000 in cash and prizes distributed between pros and amateurs. The event is further bolstered by a bounty of racer perks, including two free beers for everyone (of legal age) who races.