By Jared Eborn
Stage racing in the Beehive State, much less in Salt Lake City, is a bit of a rarity. Putting together multiple races on multiple days is a lot of work and when it happens – especially when it happens at a location that doesn’t require a long road trip – the fields are nothing short of incredible.
The Bikes For Kids Salt Lake Valley Stage Race enjoyed that perfect storm of supply and demand to kick off Utah’s June racing season with a two-day cycling party on the Salt Lake Valley’s west side. Bissell Pro Cycling’s Chase Pinkham, happy to find a quality stage race in his backyard, didn’t let the opportunity pass.
Pinkham captured victories in all three stages and cruised to a GC win in the Pro 1-2 field. His combined time of 4 hours, 45 minutes and 58 seconds gave him a comfortable win over Collegiate National Champion Ski Utah-Marketstar’s Cortlan Brown at 4:46:37. Tyler Riedesel was third overall at 4:47:43.
Megan Hill and Anne Perry, both riding for Revolution-Café Rio, took the first two steps in the women’s Pro 1-2-3 race, with Hill’s 4:04:25 time 13 seconds faster than Perry. Alison Frye and Breanne Nalder were third and fourth, respectively, at 4:04:55 and 4:05:16.
“Along with Tour of the Depot, we feel Salt Lake Valley B4K Stage Race is an important event for our local race community,” race director Alex Kim said. “It gives our local racers a chance to race in a USAC stage race format while racing with their local teams and sleeping at home.”
By offering a substantial purse and local courses, the race is able to attract a large pool or talented cyclists.
“Our goal is to make this a marquis event for amateur and pro road racers in the Intermountain area- this year we attracted racers from Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Idaho and California,” Kim said. “We would love to increase the numbers from out of state while maintaining a good representation from the Utah Cycling Association. We’ve already started the planning; thinking about those small improvements to build for another successful year.”
The 2012 event was almost as hot in the thermometer and the action was on the road.
After beating Michael Booth (Ski Utah-Marketstar) and David Harward in the Friday criterium at Daybreak, Pinkham found himself in a two-man breakaway with Brown during Saturday’s circuit race in Herriman.
As the temperatures soared, creating a little extra suffering than usual, the two-man break created enough separation to have the outcome of the stage race hanging in the balance. Pinkham pulled away on the finishing stretch to add five seconds to his GC lead over Brown while Riedesel and Chris Putt were about a minute back – creating a four-man race for the final podium with only a time trial remaining.
Pinkham left nothing in doubt, however, as he hammered out a time of 17:22 in the time trial, beating Cody Haroldsen’s 17:25 while Brown finished at 17:41.
In the women’s race Hill used a strong time trial to jump up the GC board and claim the win. A main-pack finish in the Friday criterium and a third-place finish in the road race left Hill in strong contention for a spot on the podium.
With a crushing time of 19:38, Hill picked up all the time she needed and then some. Perry was second at 19:56 while Nalder clocked in at 20:17.
While the race action was the public front for the Salt Lake Valley Stage Race, the mission behind the scenes was more noble. Bikes For Kids Utah, a non-profit organization, has sponsored the event for the past few years as a way to raise funds to give bicycles to disadvantaged children.
“We are very happy with how this race has grown over the last 6 years. We have tried to make small improvements building on the successes of each year – from a citizen hill climb to an omnium to the current USAC stage race format,” Kim said. “We are very pleased to see the hard work paying off with a big increase in registrations from 2011 that has translated to an even bigger donation to the local non profit, Bikes for Kids Utah.”
In the men’s Cat 3 race, Zach Terry (Sonora Grill-Bicycle Center) edged Revolution-Café Rio’s Adam Catmull and Infinite Cycles Ira Sorensen to pick up the GC win with a 3:31:17 time.
Bountiful Mazda’s Zan Treasure, 3:36:20, was eight seconds faster than Canyon Bicycles’ Scott Allen with Matt Heitmann and Mark Zimbleman taking third and fourth.
The women’s Cat 4 race was a tight one, with Simply Mac’s Chelsea Smith holding off Kelli Winder and Sara Baker for the top step of a podium that was separated by only eight seconds.
Luke Stevenson claimed overall victory in the men’s Cat 4, while pro triathlete Heath Thurston crushed the Cat 5 field.
Full results can be found on Page XXX