Thursday, August 20, 2009

45+ Niwot Criterium

Photo Credit: Heather Haupt Enos


The downtown Niwot Criterium was contested on Sunday, August 16th, under beautiful late summer conditions. Joe Paulson and John Talley represented Vic's Espresso/Peerless in the 40 minute 45+ men's event.

The field strung out from the start, as riders at the front forced the pace to avoid getting bunched up in the tricky acute angle corners on the course. Jimmy Gibson from the Mix1 team was animating the race early, with an early solo escape. Joe was staying right up front to keep an eye on things and stay out of trouble, and on the first prime, another rider unintentionally gave him a perfect lead-out to capture the cash.

When Jimmy went out solo again, Joe knew the powerful Mix1 rider was on good form, and shot away from the pack to bridge up before the gap got too big. Hitching onto Jimmy's rear wheel as they came through the start finish, Joe saw that there were still 21 minutes of racing to go, and wondered if this was such a good idea after all. However, they were now committed, so Joe started contributing as much as he could to work the gap up.

Meanwhile, back in the pack, JT and one of Jimmy's Mix1 teammates were sitting on wheels to frustrate the chasers. The gap started to grow, and Jimmy and Joe kept pouring on the coals, splitting the primes to keep the pace high.

It was a great relief when the time counter changed to 5 laps to go, as the continuous effort was taking its toll on both riders. Just when Joe thought the break was certain to succeed, a couple of the chasers renewed their efforts, and brought the gap way down. At 4 to go, the pack was only a few seconds behind, and the catch seemed to be imminent. Glancing back, Jimmy moaned in disbelief, and dug even deeper to bring their speed up over 30 mph. Joe tried to offer a little more on his pulls as well, and suddenly the gap was creeping back up.

With one to go, they had a little breathing room, so Joe prepared himself, then launched prior to the final corner to take another blue W. Having confunded the chasers, JT was positioned to contend for the field sprint to take the final podium spot, but a lapped rider forced him to hit the brakes in the final corner, relegating him to 4th behind Chris Stout.

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