Iron Horse Bicycle Classic has already launched careers – The Durango Herald
Past winners have reached greater heights in cycling
In the 2017 Iron Horse Bicycle Classic men’s road race, Albuquerque’s Mark Aasmundstad rode solo, several minutes ahead of the peloton. The group were caught off guard and as the finish line at Silverton got closer and closer, Durangoans Sepp Kuss and Howard Grotts got on the move.
By the time the riders reached the top of Molas Pass, Kuss had caught up with Aasmundstad and had a good lead ahead of Grotts. Kuss won the race, a performance that left his competitors in a “sense of respect.”
Today, Kuss rides for the professional cycling team Team Jumbo-Visma in races as important as the Tour de France. While a victory in the Iron Horse road race does not guarantee future success in his career, Kuss’s victory in 2017 proved that the former mountain biker can compete on the road. And that was a sign of the depth of competition during the race.
âPeople certainly know the Iron Horse, that’s for sure, and especially in the Rocky Mountain region. It’s a really great race, âsaid Todd Wells, former mountain biking Olympian and regular Iron Horse competitor.
Wells said the depth of competition during the race – from Olympians to national champions and Tour de France riders – lends credibility to the event.
âSepp Kuss could win the Tour of Spain this year, and he’s the No.1 assistant for the guy who is likely to win the Tour de France,â Wells said. “All the great athletes who have come and raced the Iron Horse, that just adds to its legacy.”
The COVID-19 pandemic canceled racing last year, so the reigning road racing champions are still Sarah Sturm and Griffin Easter from 2019. Sturm, who is likely to resume racing this weekend. end, said her sponsors appreciate the fact that she competes in local races. .
âI think my sponsors just like knowing that I do local races,â Sturm said. âLocal representation, especially in a city like Durango, is really important because Durango is on the map for many brands of bikes.â
Big bike makers like Specialized and Trek are interested in the Durango market, Sturm said, because there are such a large number of riders who either live here or visit it regularly.
âIt certainly doesn’t hurt to do local races and do well in local races in this area, especially when legends like Ned (Overend) and Todd (Wells) and Carmen Small and Mara Abbott have all graced the starting line, âSturm said.
Abbott is one of the biggest names to have won the Iron Horse, and she’s won the women’s road race six times. The now retired professional cyclist claimed the last victory in 2016 just months before placing fourth in the road race of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Abbott was also the first American to win the Women’s Giro d’Italia (now called the Giro Rosa) in 2010, one of the most prestigious races on the women’s cycling calendar.
This year, the Iron Horse could once again be part of an Olympic legacy, as Erin Huck of Boulder is expected to compete in both road bike and mountain bike races. Huck has just returned from a successful stint of Mountain Bike World Cup races in Europe and is considered one of the favorites to be part of the U.S. Team’s Women’s Mountain Bike Team for the Games. Olympic Games in Tokyo, although the selection will not be made until next month.
Huck said the Iron Horse was not an important part of his Olympic preparation, but rather a chance to have fun in a low pressure environment.
âThe promise was it would be fun, and I can’t be too stressed out about it,â she said. âI mean, the reason for doing them is just to ride a bike, have fun and enjoy the kind of environment that Durango offers because there are so many bike enthusiasts out there and it’s impossible to not having a good time. “
While it is impossible to list the accomplishments of all past Iron Horse podiums in one article, the results sheets from previous years read like an index of America’s top professional cyclists, many of whom live in Durango.
Grotts has won both road and mountain bike racing and was also an Olympian in 2016. Although he has retired from racing full time, Grotts is expected to compete in this year’s races and could. be a competitor again.
Payson McElveen, who won the road race in 2016, quickly became one of the best-known names in mountain biking thanks to his race results and his exquisite short film and podcast projects. He’s just won the Rule of Three Gravel Race in Arkansas and is getting ready for the Unbound Gravel Race in Kansas, so he won’t be competing in the Iron Horse this year.
Although Christopher Blevins did not win the Iron Horse, his hard crash in the 2016 sprint on Greene Street made its own history among the race’s memorable finishes. Blevins is currently in California so he won’t be at this year’s race, but he is also considered one of the favorites to be selected for the men’s mountain bike race in Tokyo this summer.
The 2019 men’s road racing champion is also living his life as a professional cyclist. Griffin Easter is currently training and racing in Europe with the Start Cycling team. The Fort Lewis College alumnus said there was “magic in the air” the first time he experienced Iron Horse as a freshman, though 2019 was the first time he followed the line.
âI was just a spectator, but the atmosphere, the colors, the energy and the life attracted me,â Easter said. âThe race itself has such a long history. It was such an honor to take the win and to have friends and locals cheering on the finish.
Easter won’t be the event this year, but has said he looks forward to returning.
âI will always make Iron Horse a weekend and an event to come back to,â he said. âI love Durango and I love Iron Horse. They go hand in hand.