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By Joe Zauner
Navigator’s Burke Swindlehurst and Becky Broeder (Intermountain) both held on through the final stage to take the overall titles in Montana’s Ecology Center Classic on Monday. Ryan Guay and Joy Shaffer (Los Gatos) took the race’s finale, a miss-and-out through the streets of Missoula.
While a miss-and-out might be unusual in a stage race, organizers said the format has a lot of crowd appeal.
The Navigators squad was at the head of the field throughout most of the men’s race Monday, setting tempo for Swindlehurst, who had a 54-second lead going into the final stage over Colby Pearce (5280/Subaru).
Indeed, the only noteworthy break came at about 30 minutes when Jim Rucker (Saturn for Seattle) soloed for a lap and was joined by Pearce. They were caught by a Navigators-driven peloton just one lap later.
Swindlehurst, who broke his wrist in April pre-riding the time trial course at the Sea Otter Classic, said the final miss-and-out stage was worrisome.
“I don’t have a lot of articulation in my wrist,” he said. “It’s hard to get out of the saddle and really go hard. I almost took myself out a couple times.”
An early indication of the outcome of the race came with six laps to go when Guay won a $150 crowd prime, edging out David Richter (Recycled Cycles).
Swindlehurst was the eighth rider pulled from the race. After about 50 minutes the field was whittled down to five competitors: Guay, Richter, Pearce, Jon Baker (Pro Peloton Velo) and Glen Mitchell (Navigators).
Richter, a notable Seattle-area sprinter, was a likely favorite going into the final lap. Though he has never won this stage of the Ecology Classic, he has finished second here twice. But the Navigators had numbers on their side. Sitting in third position going into the final turn, Richter picked his man… Mitchell and missed the sprint as Guay scampered off for the win.
“I marked the wrong Navigator,” Richter said after the race. “I thought Mitchell was the man to beat and I was wrong.”
Guay said he was pleased to win in front of his new hometown of Missoula and in front of his parents who traveled from Colorado to see the race.
“I haven’t had a good history of performing in front of my parents,” Guay said. “I’m either in a real big race or working for my team or I don’t do as well as I want to, so this means a lot.”
The format of the Ecology Center miss-and-out adds two seconds to a rider’s overall time for every lap the field completes after the rider is pulled. Swindlehurst’s eighth-place performance guaranteed him the general classification win over Pearce by 43 seconds. Rusty Beall (HealthNet) was third, 1:59 back. Of note was the performance of junior rider Zak Grabowski (Hot Tubes), who finished seventh, 4:25 back.
Swindlehurst said his win was bittersweet. He said was glad for the victory, adding that the competition was difficult, but he was disappointed that the bigger North American trade teams didn’t show.
“I would have liked to have seen the bigger teams compete,” he said. “This is such a great race in such a great part of the country. You know, bicycle racing is as much about where you race as anything else. This is a cool environment and the bigger teams missed out on that.”
In the women’s miss-and-out, Eryn Hanna (Los Gatos) was the rider to beat early in the race. After two laps of racing she began a seven-lap solo effort that netted 16 seconds. Alison Beall (Worlddiff.com) bridged to Hanna, but the field was just five seconds behind her. She was reabsorbed while Hanna pressed on, staying clear of the field for one more lap, which earned her a five-second time bonus.
The final five-woman selection in the race was Shaffer, Broeder, Beall, Liza Rachetto (Intermountain), and Katheryn Curi (Los Gatos). Shaffer led coming out of the final turn and edged Rachetto and Curi, who finished second and third respectively.
Broeder finished fifth, which was more than enough to secure the overall. She is a former professional triathlete who lives and trains in Missoula.
“To win at home is a really big thing,” Broeder said. “There’s such a big cycling and triathlon community here. We train together, party together, raise families together. We’re a tight community and it’s good to bring the win home.”
1. Joy Shaffer (Los Gatos)
2. Liza Rachetto (Intermountain)
3. Katheryn Curi (Los Gatos)
4. Allison Beall (Worlddiff.com)
5. Becky Broeder (Intermountain)Final Overal
1. Becky Broeder (Intermountain)
2. Liza Rachetto (Intermountain)
3. Eva Karau (Team Stampede)
4. Katheryn Curi (Los Gatos)
Mary Kneeland (Intermountain)MEN:
1. Ryan Guay (Navigators)
2. David Richter (Recycled Cycles)
3. Colby Pearce (5280/Subaru)
4. Jon Baker (Pro Peloton Velo)
5. Glenn Mitchell (Navigators)Final Overal
1. Burke Swindlehurst (Navigators)
2. Colby Pearce (5280/Subaru) at 0:43
3. Rusty Beall (HealthNet) at 1:59
4. Ryan Guay (Navigators) at 2:08
5. Marc Bomhof (ALB Cicilismo/Headwinds) at 2:34