By Randy Garner and Ryan Barrett
The 23rd Annual Cook-Sanders, Associates, and the Spence Law Firm High Uintas Classic Stage Race drew over 200 cyclists to the small town of Evanston in southwest Wyoming over the weekend of June 18-19.
The High Uintas Stage race was a bit different this year, than years past. Due to record snowfall in the recent winter, the race’s usual course through Bald Mountain Pass was still closed when the June 18 road race took place.
Instead of the traditional “Over the Top” route, organizers of the road race opted to hold a “Chain Up, Hammer Down” race that would take competitors south on highway 150, to the snowline, which would serve as a halfway point. Cyclists would then turn around and race back to the starting line for the finish in Evanston.
“The climb from Kamas, to Bald Mountain Pass is 30 miles and 3,300 feet. Evanston to the snowline is 39 miles, and about 2,400 feet is much more difficult than the North Slope,” said organizer, Paul Knopf.
Overall, Knopf said he, and the Evanston Cycling Club considered the race to be a success.
“Despite the fact that we have had an angry Old Man Winter, and angrier Mother Nature, I think it was a good success, and it worked out well for all of us, and our community”.
Organizer Paul Knopf said he is also pleased with the turnout for this year’s race. “Considering this has been the year of the perfect storm — the pass is closed, winter lingers, people haven’t had a chance to train, it’s been cold, rainy, and snowy — I think 226 is reasonable,” Knopf said.
“Two hundred and twenty-six is a good number considering all of the circumstances,” he added.
Due to the course change, the race was decided primarily in the wind, rather than on the climb. The Men’s Pro 1-2 event came down to an elite group of six. Sam Krieg of Ski Utah-MarketStar lead out the sprint and teammate Michael Booth took a convincing win.
“The last time I did the race was in 2007, when I was first getting into racing,” said Chase Pinkham. Pinkham took second in all three stages of the event, placing first in the Men’s Pro 1&2 General Classification.
“This year, it was a good course. It was still very difficult, but with the headwind on climb on the first stage, it didn’t really break up very much so it was a little bit less difficult than the ‘Over the Top”.
“It was a great race; it was hard, and a little faster than the “Over the Top”. It was a good race overall”.
The Women’s Pro 1-3 event unfolded similarly with a group of five coming to the line together. Hillary Crowley (Primal Utah) took the sprint in front of Ski Utah-MarketStar teammates Laura Howat and Alison Frye.
Bryson Perry of Sandy, Utah competed in the High Uintas Stage race as a member of the Life Time Fitness team. Perry took second overall in the Pro Men 1-2 General Classification. Perry won the Stage Two time trial, in front of Chase Pinkham (Bissell Pro Cycling) and Krieg.
“It (the road race)was definitely easier than ‘Over the Top’, and very different. It had some climbing, but it wasn’t hard climbing it was more just gradual climbing. It played out very differently,” Perry said.
Though Perry said the road race was easier, the Sandy cyclist said he couldn’t have placed second were it not for the help of his teammates.
The Women’s Pro 1-3 stage 2 time trial was won by Ski Utah-MarketStar’s Laura Howat, also giving her the G.C. lead.
The Stage 3 men’s Pro 1-2 criterium was held in a deluge. Under heavy rain, the race became one of attrition with riders constantly falling off the back, rather than a traditional breakaway and pack scenario. When the dust settled, it was again Michael Booth proving he was the fastest sprinter. The G.C. remained unchanged, however, with Pinkham taking the win in front of Perry and Krieg.
The women’s Pro 1-3 crit was won by Sinead O’dwyer. The G.C. went to Howat, in front of Chantel Olsen (PCIM) and Crowley.