Sturm can’t defend but shows up well in the high end area
Under blue skies in Silverton, professional mountain biker Erin Huck of Boulder prevented 2019 champion Sarah Sturm of Durango from winning the 49th Professional Women’s Iron Horse Bicycle Classic race with a time of 2 hours, 43 minutes and 17 seconds to hold a Sturm in charge. , which was only five seconds back.
After an early morning start at Animas City Park in Durango, the women’s peloton traveled at a relaxed pace through the Animas Valley to begin the 47-mile run which includes 5,700 feet of climbing.
The pace picked up as the course headed north toward the Purgatory Resort, but the group of suitors stayed together until the attacks on Coal Bank Pass began.
“I took advantage of a kind of tailwind and threw an attack,” said Huck, 39. “Sturmy and I were together for a while. She backed up and I continued, but caught up with me on the downhill before Molas, then we drove over Molas together.
With the decisive ascent of Molas Pass, with a summit elevation of 10,912 feet, Sturm, a mountain biker, cyclo-cross racer and rising gravel star, and Huck, a 2021 Olympic mountain biker hopeful, come together. are challenged and have equaled the pedal strokes.
“Sarah and I were kind of taking turns on the suffering bus,” Huck said. “I felt good at Coal Bank and she was in pain, then in Molas, she was feeling good and I was in pain.
At the top of Molas Pass, Huck went faster thanks to her more refined descent skills, letting gravity pull her down into the Silverton Caldera.
“I think I just sent him downhill and managed to get a little gap and suffer until the finish,” Huck said.
Sturm, 31, said she was not used to getting off on a road bike because she mainly raced off-road in races like the Belgian Waffle Ride or the Co2uT Desert Gravel race, where she had been placed second seven days earlier in the 190 mile ride. across the high desert.
“I’m just not used to going down on road bikes, and she was stronger than me on that last corner for a long time,” said Sturm. “Then I just tried to go as hard as I could, but I knew how long the finish straight was.
Sturm said ahead of the race that she would prefer the race to be more than a sprint, but there was a brief moment on Greene Street where she thought she could beat Huck on the last streak. Her legs had a different response.
“I saw her get up and I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s it,’” Sturm said.
The peloton was dominated by riders who raced mostly off-road. Third place on the podium went to Evelyn Dong (2:44:45) of Utah, who is also a regular at mountain biking and gravel events across the country.
Dong held on as Huck and Sturm took the lead on the climbs but ultimately couldn’t match the pace of his comrades. Dong said the high-altitude course, which reaches twice as high as 10,500 feet above sea level, was difficult.
“I think it’s pretty easy to tell what your limit is,” she said. “There is only so hard you can do.”
Madigan Munro, 19, of Boulder was fourth (2:46:30), while Durangoan Ruth Holcomb crossed the line in fifth (2:48:52).
“Sarah and Erin really lit it up, and me and Madigan and Evelyn tried to go with them but don’t quite have that rhythm,” said Holcomb, 18. “I probably went a little too hard on Coal Bank, but I managed to bring him back on top. I attacked on Molas again and was able to escape until a quick sprint at the end.
Many riders in the women’s field will compete in the mountain bike race at Horse Gulch on Sunday as part of the Queen of the Mountain all-round competition, where points are tallied from both weekend races to claim the winner’s title .
It will be a challenge for runners after covering nearly 50 miles and climbing over 5,000 feet in elevation at a high pace. The route features challenging terrain including the steep climb up the Telegraph Trail.
Sturm will not participate in the mountain bike race on Sunday, but Dong, Munro and Holcomb will try to challenge Huck.
“I’m a little nervous about this because I think it’s going to be really hot and dusty,” Huck said.
Both Sturm and Holcomb noted how thrilling it was to participate in their hometown bike race.
“This is probably my favorite race of the year,” said Holcomb. “It’s always the toughest race of the year too, but having everyone cheering all the time and still hearing my name and stuff, finishing up and being with everyone I know is super fun.
Sturm was in good spirits, despite losing control of the road race title on the final stretch of the race.
“I am really proud of myself. I think I’m stronger this year than a few years ago, ”she said. “There was just more competition, and I’m really, really happy to be so close to Erin and Elevlyn because they’ve been running at full speed, and Erin is trying to make it to the Olympics, so I got her. support for sure. “