Race Report and Results: Scott Kornfield Classic, Louisville, CO - Vic's Espresso
Joe Paulson, Bill Simmons, and John Talley turned out with forty-some other riders in ideal conditions to contest the 50 minute 45+ Scott Kornfield Classic criterium in Louisville this morning. All three were feeling the effects of yesterday's 80 mile effort at Hugo, and agreed that sitting in and resting for the first half of the race, and then marking crit threats who hadn't raced yesterday was the plan for the day. Good thing, because the Mix1 riders set a high pace from the whistle, and the first trips up the start/finish hill revealed how heavy the Vic's riders' legs were. It had the makings of a long morning.
Fortunately, with each lap, the legs started to wake up and feel progressively better. When the lap counter showed 5 to go, the blue boys were moving into position and watching out for any last chance attacks. A few attempts were made, but the fresher legs in the peloton brought everything back, and it started to look like a field sprint was in the cards.
With two laps to go, Joe crested the climb and saw Bill coming past. Bill looked over, and the expression on his face seemed to say, "All aboard the Simmons Express." Joe jumped on board, Bill glanced back in confirmation, and started to tow downhill. He worked his way toward the front, then took over the race lead approaching the final corner.
Joe thought, "Does Bill think this is the last lap?", but the pace Bill set, just high enough that no one was inclined to poke their nose in the wind, showed that he knew what he was doing. Bill continued his heroic pull through the start/finish and up the rest of the climb, with Joe tucked in trying to get as much draft as possible. Over the top, Joe glanced back to see Bob Pinkerton so close behind that it looked like they were sharing a tandem.
Down the descent they went, Bill cranking away as they swept through the turns. Joe glanced back again; Pinkerton was still up close and personal, with the field lurking behind. Meanwhile, JT had worked into a position a couple riders behind. Seeing Joe look back, JT wanted to move up to help, but discovered that he had become the most popular guy in the field. Guys were telling teammates, "That's Joe's lead-out man!", and everyone was fighting for his wheel. JT figured he'd just leave 'em hanging, waiting for his move.
Coming out of the third to last corner, the road started to kick up. Joe swore he could smell smoke coming from Bill's engine, and knew that the Simmons Express was running out of track, and it was almost time to go wheel surfing. Sure enough, riders started to come around, so Joe ramped it up, and fought for position into the tight second to last corner. Coming through unscathed, he jumped on Brad Olson's wheel, and set up for the final corner in third.
Everything seemed to be going smoothly, and Joe was just reminding himself to be patient in the sprint up the long finish climb, when a flash of blue caught his eye as Excel Sports rider Peter Ismert went blowing by on the inside of the corner. He had attacked from back in the field, and was now off the front, steaming for the finish line. Olson and the Green Mountain rider in front Joe jumped after him, and Joe jumped with them, but Ismert had opened a huge gap.
The riders in front didn't appear to be closing fast enough. After the team's near-miss yesterday at Hugo, Joe was not interested in sprinting for second place. Going all in, he lit it up 250 meters from the line, and sprang away after Ismert. Joe was closing in fast, but Ismert looked back with about 50 meters to go, saw him coming, and made a final push for the line. It was almost enough, but Joe found a little more top end, and overtook him inside the last 20 meters, crossing the line with Peter's anguished "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" ringing in his ears.
Eugene Polumbo led the rest of the field in, with JT right behind him for a solid fourth place finish. Great teamwork, and a great result to close out a big weekend of racing!