After three tough events hosted by Mesa State last weekend, the Rocky Mountain Conference thought it could breath a collective sigh of relief coming into this weekend’s short hill climb and criterium, hosted by the Colorado School of Mines. That was, until they woke up Saturday morning and took a look outside.
Strong winds out of the west, gusting to nearly fifty miles per hour, buffeted racers as they registered for the Lookout Mountain Hill Climb. The wind even played thief, blowing over $400 out of a cashbox and across the parking lot; thankfully it was all recovered. Despite a scheduling conflict with the legendary Koppenburg road race, turnout was high. With only four race weekends remaining on the Conference calendar, teams gunning for the Conference omnium championship made sure to bring their best.
Trevor Connor of Colorado State University took home top honors in the men’s A time trial, and Natalie Koch took another win in the women’s A’s. The University of Wyoming’s Adam Looney and Mesa State College’s Silvia Moelk took the B races, with the University of Denver’s William Bryan clinching the men’s C race.
Course record holder Tom Danielson (Garmin-Transitions) made an appearance, but with the fierce winds he was well off his own record on the climb. “Couldn’t have gone much better as I averaged 400 watts, but because of the wind was very slow,” he posted from his Twitter account Saturday afternoon.
Sunday saw lighter winds and a physically, if not technically, demanding criterium course in Golden. A blunt headwind up the climb made breaking away nearly impossible, and most fields ended in bunch sprints.
Early attacks in the women’s B race were all neutralized by the wind, which served only to send riders off the back rather than propel them off the front. The final sprint was close, with the University of Colorado’s Heather Fischer narrowly edging CSU’s Ashley Nice. Mesa’s Silvia Moelk crossed the line in third.
The men’s C field saw the only successful attack of the day as CSU’s Mike Downs took advantage of a brief slowing of the group on the last lap to create a gap. Downs narrowly held them off; his 15-yard lead dwindling to just half a wheel in the closing seconds. Garrett Alexander of Fort Lewis College and Benjamin Techner of Mines lunged for second and third.
The ladies of CU were determine to grab the women’s A crit by the horns, spending much of their time setting the pace on the front. Despite numerous break attempts from FLC, CU’s work paid off as they set up Flora Duffy for the sprint victory. FLC’s Missy Erickson slotted into second ahead of Netana Hotimsky of Mesa.
FLC’s Nate Byrom, winner of last weekend’s Mesa State criterium, pulled a repeat in the men’s B crit and once again treated spectators to his soon-to-be-classic Flappy the Skyhawk victory solute. Consistent finishers Adam Looney and James “PJ” Nelson, both of the University of Wyoming, came through in second and third.
Despite a lack of breakaway success throughout the day, the men’s A’s did their best to initiate separation nearly every time up the climb. In the end nothing stuck, and Mesa State set up their powerful leadout train in the waning laps. Mesa’s Kevin Mullervy opened up the sprint but was overtaken by FLC’s Jesse Dekrey and CSU’s Caley Fretz. Dekrey took the win ahead of Fretz, who was forced to coast across the line after breaking a few spokes in the finale. Mullervy held off the rest of the field for third.
Next weekend the RMCCC heads to Colorado Springs for another hill climb time trial and criterium hosted by Colorado College. With the team and individual omnium competitions still up for grabs, more hotly contested racing is expected.
Caley Fretz is a student at Colorado State University