Sunday, July 12, 2009
Longmont Criterium 2009
The Longmont Criterium is called Colorado's longest running criterium road cycling race, going on 23 years now. The race consists of repeated loops of a 0.7 mile course in downtown Longmont, between Coffman Street and Thompson Park. If you get lapped, you get the hook! Racers like this course because it is flat and portions of it are shaded by the old downtown trees. Action is fast and furious, with racers averaging 30 mph! It's not just one race -- many take place throughout the day, depending on racer skill and age.
The skies were overcast for a lot of the races but luckily only a few raindrops were felt. Other than that, it was hot and somewhat muggy.
Due to the tight course and high speeds, there are crashes sometimes. At a fast corner, a well-placed hay bale:
Remnants of a crash at 5th and Pratt, in the category 4 race:
At the vendor area, it's good to see some local businesses participate in feeding and hydrating the crowd:
Appropriately enough, the Tour of France is going on right now, and some of the best USA emerging cycling talent was on display right here in Longmont. I'll go out on a limb now and say that at least four riders from today's race will be in the Tour of France someday.
The most well-known rider today was 19 year-old Taylor Phinney. Phinney rides for Lance Armstrong's Under-23 Trek-Livestrong team and is already one of the fastest cyclists in the world. He was on the USA 2008 Olympic team in Beijing, and in June, became the first American to win the prestigious Under-23 Paris-Roubaix race in France, competing with riders three or four years older. He has ambitions to be in the Tour De France in two years and I'm guessing he won't be appearing in Longmont again. Here is talking to one of his ex-Garmin teammates, and lining up at the start.
The other major Under-23 squad at today's race was the Garmin-Holowesko Partners/Felt team. Their counterparts on the pro Garmin team are competing right now in France.
Representing Garmin today was arguably the USA's best young climber, Peter Stetina, and all-rounder Danny Summerhill. Finally, another emerging USA rider, Tejay Van Garderen was also racing today, and he'll soon be joining the most successful pro cycling team in the world, Columbia-HTC. Let's see if I will be able to link back to this blog entry in a few years when all of these names will be competing in France, on the world's cycling stage.
It wasn't just USA talent on display. An Australian junior team, Real Aussie Kids, were also back in Longmont this year, and no doubt some of these riders will also make it to Europe.
From the pro race, a group of riders try to "breakaway" from the pack, heading south on Coffman Street. It didn't work, and they were reeled-in a few laps later:
And at the furious finish of the pro race, retired pro Dan Schmatz of the Michelob Ultra team takes first; Taylor Phinney comes in third. Full results are here.
If you like cycling races and missed this one, a smaller criterium is coming up in Longmont's Prospect neighborhood on August 8.