Steamboat Springs Stage Race opens Saturday with time trial
August 29, 2013
Steamboat Springs — There will be more than 300 competitive cyclists in town for this weekend's Steamboat Springs Stage Race, but you might be hard pressed to find one who is more excited than 19-year-old Jake Barker.
"Oh my gosh, this is such an amazing event," the Steamboat Springs native said Thursday. "It blows my mind that they do this kind of event right here … in my hometown."
Barker is one of about 30 local cyclists who will compete this weekend. Barker, a sophomore at Middlebury College, currently is in Category 3, but he is hoping that the experience he gains in Steamboat Springs will help him climb the ladder to more elite classes and improve his chances of racing at the collegiate nationals this year.
The Steamboat Springs Stage Race will feature some of the top riders in the region competing in a fast-paced time trial along the Yampa River, a scenic road race among some of the best backdrops in Routt County and a thrilling criterium in the heart of downtown. The event features classes for every rider regardless of ability or age.
"To have an event like this is unbelievable," local professional racer Amy Charity said. "I know the roads. I train on them every day."
But while the event has found a strong following among local cyclists, its popularity also stretches across the state and to other states in the region. This year, 374 riders are registered, and event organizer Corey Piscopo said many more will come to our town to watch, cheer and support the riders.
"This event's reputation is really starting to pick up," Charity said. "I hear so many riders (at other events) talking about Steamboat Springs and this event. They look forward to coming, and it's a great way to end the season."
Piscopo said the race offers cyclists a great opportunity to compete in one of the most striking settings anywhere in the country. He said the event is a change from competing on the Front Range where courses lack Steamboat's mountain backdrop and relaxed atmosphere.
"I think the diversity will help put this event on the map," Piscopo said. "We have the perfect setting here and great courses that you just can't find on the Front Range."
Events will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday with the Aspire Time Trial. In the time trial, racers will compete against the clock and leave the starting blocks based on intervals. The course will begin on Lincoln Avenue before heading out U.S. Highway 40 to Routt County Road 131. The racers then will cut across Routt County Road 22 and return to the finish line on Routt County Road 14 (River Road). The 17-kilometer course will feature mostly flat or rolling terrain.
The first wave of the Moots Road Race will start at 7:30 a.m. Sunday on 13th Street and take riders out Routt County Roads 33 and 27. The event will turn around near the Hayden Station power plant and return riders along the same route. Advanced riders will complete an extra loop that extends the course from Twentymile Mine with a turnaround shortly before Oak Creek. All of the riders will return to the finish area near Critter Court. The senior men professional Categories 1 to 3 racers will complete an 80-mile course along with the senior men's 35-plus Categories 1 to 3 riders. The rest of the categories will complete a 62-mile loop, and the junior classes will race 35 miles. The women's pro division is slated to begin at 7:46 a.m. with the top men's classes leaving at 11:30 a.m. Other start times and course maps can be found here.
The events will come to a close Monday in downtown with the criterium — the most spectator-friendly and fast-paced event of the weekend. The course will use Oak and Pine streets between Fourth and Eighth streets with riders completing a number of laps.
"The criterium has to be my favorite event," Barker said. "It's high paced, high intensity and super exciting. It's fun to race in and has to be the best event to watch."
The day will get started at 7:30 a.m. and will include a kid ride at 12:30 p.m. for racers 10 and younger. The race is free, and parents can register their children at Ski & Bike Kare through Saturday.
Racing will continue through the afternoon with the women's pro race slated for 3 p.m. and the men's pro race starting a 3:55 p.m.
All of the cyclists will be looking to collect top finishes in their divisions in each of the individual events, but the top prizes will be reserved for those with the best results in all three events.
"It's great to win a stage," Piscopo said. "But the idea of the stage race is to post the best overall time for all three events."
The top cyclists will share a cash purse of $10,000. The race also plans to donate a portion of the money from entry fees to the Routt County Humane Society, LIFT-UP Food Bank and the Community Agriculture Alliance.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com