Steamboat Springs Some last-minute studying of criteriums on YouTube last week paid off Monday for Steamboat Springs cyclist Amy Charity, as she crossed the finish line with a strong time at her inaugural criterium on the final day of the Steamboat Springs Stage Race.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I got here today,” Charity said. “I didn’t want a lot of tires in front of me, and I could hear my husband screaming ‘Attack, attack,’ so I decided it was time to get out in front.”
Finishing with a time of 37 minutes, 49 seconds, Charity’s win at the downtown criterium also secured her a first-place finish overall in her senior women’s division of the stage race. After a total of 5 hours, 17 minutes and 46 seconds of racing during the four-day race, the 34-year-old Charity said it was nice to finally finish in downtown Steamboat.
“The hometown aspect of this race made it so much fun for me,” she said.
Athletes in the stage race compete in events for four consecutive days and are ranked by their total time.
Monday’s criterium — the name for an event involving a short distance on a closed course on public streets — had cyclists competing in 0.08-mile, counter-clockwise loops on Oak, Pine, Fourth and Eighth streets downtown. The event marked the end of the four-day stage race. The downtown loop had only a gradual incline, which was a relief for Olympic gold medalist Jeannie Longo, who was the fastest woman in the criterium and took first place overall in the women’s pro division.
“It was really great to be able to do the easier course today,” Longo said. “Today was short and easy, but my first day here was different because I was tired and still getting used to the altitude.”
More than 300 spectators lined the streets throughout the day to cheer on the riders who, as they raced, created an unmistakable whoosh that almost drowned out the ringing of cowbells and at least one vuvuzela.
Steamboat resident Alex Pond watched as the men’s pro division raced by.
“You can tell the intensity is high just by watching this big group of guys pedal so close to each other,” he said.
Peter Stetina, a 23-year-old from Boulder, finished first overall in the men’s pro division despite not finishing in the top three at Monday’s criterium. He said the stage race was a welcome change of scenery.
“I race several times a year in Europe on rough, cobbled streets, so it’s a joy to be able to ride around on these smooth streets back in my home state,” he said.
Race promoter Corey Piscopo said there were more spectators and participants this year, and he would like to build on that in the future.
He said organizers soon will start planning next year’s race as they discuss potential course improvements as well as the number of racers they plan to have.
“Everything was elevated a level this year,” he said. “There’s a lot of momentum for bike racing here, and we want to keep that going.”
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