cycling utah August 1999
By David R. Ward
Nissan sponsored a race, and then its team showed its appreciation by sweeping the top honors in the Women's Category 1-3 race. Heather Albert, fresh off her fifth-place finish in the women's national road race, continued her good form by winning the Nissan Xterra Criterium held on July 17 at Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake City.
About halfway through the race, Albert sprinted off the front to grab a prime win, and in the process initiated the solo breakaway which led to her victory.
"It was a prime lap. I got the prime, pushed it to get up the hill, and kept going." With her teammate, Daphne Wilhelm blocking, Albert quickly widened the gap, and the rest of the race was soon for second place as Albert continued to increase her lead over the chase group till she crossed the finish line.
Wilhelm, meanwhile, dutifully sat on the wheel of every other person who led the chase group, effectively disrupting any attempt to organize a successful pursuit of Albert. With two laps to go, Wilhelm also took advantage of a gap gained through sprinting for the final prime, and soloed away to grab second place overall. This gave Team Nissan the two top spots. Kelly Crawford won the group sprint to take third.
The Men's Category 1-3 race was a showcase of local talent who have gone on to greater success. Included in the lineup were Burke Swindlehurst (Saturn), David Zabriskie (Nutra Fig), and Steve Tibbitts, in town on a two week visit from a summer of professional racing in Europe. Not surprisingly, the winning move of the race came from this elite group of three.
Zabriskie allowed very little time to pass before taking control. Only a few laps into the race, Zabriskie pushed off the front of the peloton and got a small gap. "It seemed to string out on those downhills a little bit . . . and I just went real hard," Zabriskie said in explaining his early attack.
After allowing Zabriskie to solo for several laps, Swindlehurst decided it was time to join up with his former teammate. With others in tow, Swindlehurst bridged the gap, creating a lead group of five. However, while words were exchanged between the other three members of the breakaway group about who should be pulling through, Zabriskie and Swindlehurst simply put more into their pedals and moved away, leaving the stragglers to be swallowed up by the peloton.
Working together like the two experienced professionals they are, Zabriskie and Swindlehurst continued to increase their lead to almost two minutes by the end of the race. In a show of friendship, they clasped hands and crossed the finish line together to garner first and second places. Swindlehurst stated, "It just seemed like the cool thing to do."
Meanwhile, back in the pack, Mike Peterson (Utah Premier) and Paul Quinlan (9th and Ninth) powered a second breakaway with just a few laps to go to contest third place. On the uphill stretch to the finish, Peterson sprinted away from Quinlan to grab third.
While Team Nissan and the local boys who made it big dominated the top Men's and Women's categories, the 9th and Ninth team made a clean sweep in the Masters race. In an exciting race of attacks and counterattacks, a break of six riders eventually formed toward the end of the race. This included four 9th and Ninth teammates, Dirk Cowley, Terry McGinnis, Paul Quinlan and Rich Vroom.. Also in the break were Darryl Davis (Rhodes) and Mark Shaffer.
Clearly outnumbered, Davis and Shaffer had to respond to numerous attacks to keep the break together. Having expended themselves in that effort, they had too little left for the final uphill sprint to the finish. Cowley, carrying excellent form into this race, outsprinted his two teammates to take the victory. McGinnis followed for second and Vroom finished third.