Steamboat's Winter Sports Club cycling team rolls into a new season

Riders fare well in Nathrop

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— The members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s elite cycling program are geared up and already rolling on a new season.

Program director Ben Clark said the team has been training since April and recently returned from the Chalk Creek Stampede in Nathrop with several top results.

“All of our athletes fared well in their categories despite a lack of good training weather this spring,” Clark said. “I’ve got a dedicated group of athletes, and they have been doing their best to prepare for these races despite the conditions outside.”

This year’s team included six elite racers. The athletes train and race mountain and road bikes. Clark said the two sports are so closely tied that it makes sense to do both.

Clark said most of the team’s endurance and interval training during the early season is on road bikes. That could change as the season progresses and more mountain bike trails open in the area. The team also spends a couple of days each week doing physical training with Manic Training to build upper body strength.

The team opened the season in April in Fruita at the Rabbit Valley Rally. The event included an off-road time trial and a cross-country race. Alex Schaffer was fourth in the time trial, and Jeffrey Gay was sixth. Linnea Dixson led the way in the cross-country with a second-place finish in Category 1 women. In the men’s Category 2 cross-country race, Schaffer was 10th, Erik Petersen was 14th and Gay was 15th.

Five of those cyclists made the trip to Nathrop to compete May 15 and 16 in a short track cross-country and a cross-country race.

Gay finished third, and teammate Evan Weinman was fifth in the short track cross-country race May 15. The next day, the racers took part in a cross-country race, which was held on a grueling east-west oval with two long straightaways connected by a loose, rocky ascent on the east side and a twisty, sandy descent on the west.

Clark said the course favored riders with lots of base miles and a smooth cadence. It was a test for his riders who have not had a lot of time on the bikes and are more accustomed to the courses found in the mountains.

Dixson finished third in women’s Category 1 division. In the men’s Category 2 division, Gay finished 11th, Weinman was 13th, Dane Dixson was 15th and Petersen was 16th. Sam Chovan, a SSWSC rider who attends the University of Denver, placed 14th in the men’s Category 1, and Ian Gale was fifth in the Super D race, which is a blend of downhill and cross-country.

Clark said it’s been a strong start for the Winter Sports Club program and that the team plans to attend all seven Mountain States Cup events this year. The team also is gearing up for the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships, which will take place at Sol Vista Ski Area from July 15 to 18.

The team is training for the Chile Challenge, the next Mountain States Cup race, which is June 4 through 6 in Angel Fire, N.M.

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