Steamboat Springs The first key, Amy Charity explained, is timing.
She thought she found that Monday afternoon just after the field in the senior women’s Steamboat Stage Race had broken up in a sprint for a small time bonus.
“After a sprint like that, people often sit up a little bit,” the Steamboat Springs rider said. “I thought it might be a good time to take them by surprise.”
The second key is hammering it as hard as possible, “stand up and go with all you have,” she said.
That, too, she did, or at least tried.
Charity pedaled with all she had, trying to break free from the pack and make up the miniscule difference that separated her and Julie Emmerman — three seconds, and then after the midrace time bonus, four seconds — from first and second place.
It worked, but only briefly. Charity cut away from the field and gained a short lead midway through the downtown Steamboat criterium, but Emmerman’s sole focus Monday was staying on Charity’s tail, and she broke away herself, fighting and then catching up, neutralizing the hometown hero’s best chance to jump from second to first.
Emmerman stuck hard to Charity throughout Monday’s final stage and emerged as the general classification winner, taking the event for the second time in four years. She also won in the race’s first year.
“I had to stay alert and pay attention to what she was doing,” Emmerman said. “I knew exactly where she was at all times.
“It was awesome to win, especially when it’s this competitive of a field. I love Steamboat. I used to race mountain bikes here in the Mercury Tour, so I have good memories of Steamboat, and anytime I can come back, I love to do so.”
The three-day Steamboat Stage Race wrapped up Monday on the downtown streets of Steamboat Springs, nearly 360 riders in 11 classifications taking turns running laps on the downtown streets.
The race for the women’s overall crown was the highlight, the pinnacle of the week’s drama. Charity had a small lead after the first day’s time trial, but she fell three seconds behind Emmerman after barely losing out on a sprint to Sunday’s road race finish. The competitors eyed each other throughout Monday’s stage, but in the end nothing changed.
Emmerman won. Charity was second, four seconds back, and Heather Fischer was third, 37 seconds off the pace.
“She had a smart and very simple tactic,” said Charity, coming to terms with being so close.
“If you’d asked me six months ago if I’d podium here, I wouldn’t have thought I would,” she continued. “Still, I was going for the win, and now I’m fired up for next year.”
On the men’s side, Louisville rider Jesse Goodrich used a dominant Stage 2 on the road to build what turned out to be an insurmountable lead. He entered the day with a 47-second advantage. A powerful group of riders managed to track down every rider or group — including for one lap, Steamboat’s Barkley Robinson — that attempted an escape. That ensured Goodrich’s time would stand up, and he was able to ride the last laps at ease.
Todd Lodwick put together perhaps his best day of the weekend to win the men’s senior Category 3 criterium. The five-time Nordic combined Olympic skier said he set out to both protect his third-place position on the podium and help a friend to the top spot.
The second goal didn’t work out, but the first did, and he won Monday’s stage along the way.
“The cool thing is how many people showed up for this,” said Lodwick, who also competed three years ago. “It was a lot of fun. It’s good offseason training for us, and winning never gets old.”
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com