Heading into the 45th Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, much of the attention was focused on seasoned riders and professional veterans such as Ned Overend, Todd Wells, Rolando Gonzalez and Benjamin Sonntag.
However, when it was all said and done, the road races were dominated by Fort Lewis College riders from recent past, present and, with Monday’s time trial win – the future.
Aspen teen and Fort Lewis College bound Kevin Callahan was the first men’s professional rider to reach Old Shalona Hill and cross the finish line en route to winning the 13.7-mile Iron Horse Men’s Pro BP Time Trial on Monday.
Callahan’s time of 33 minutes, 49.6 seconds was more than a minute better than the competition and secured him a third-place spot on the podium in the overall men’s omnium.
“I learned a lot by racing here last year, so I had a good idea of how to pace it,” Callahan said. “I felt really good this morning and, when I heard how tired the other guys were feeling, I felt like I had a good shot. I left enough in the tank for the hill, and I was able to hammer that.”
Second-place rider Spencer Downing, 20, finished in 35:19.3, and Andy Farley came in third with a time of 35:32.9. With a ninth-place finish in the road race and two second-place finishes to follow, Downing secured the omnium title by one point ahead of Fort Lewis sophomore Cormac McGeough and Callahan, who both finished with 71 points.
“It’s such a cool weekend, and obviously the omnium isn’t as big as the road race, but it’s an honor to win anything here,” Downing said. “Next year, hopefully I can bring a bit more focus to the road race. I think I can make it over the top with some of those guys up front, and that’s a reasonable goal.”
The day started with a surprise, as riders went through their warmup routines only to arrive to the County Road 250 and 32nd Street starting line and learn there was about a 30-minute delay.
While an 18-year-old might not need as much warmup time as his elders, it was still an uncomfortable situation for Callahan.
“I got there and I thought I was going to go in two minutes, but they said it would be more like 30,” he said. “That has never happened to me before, so it was a nice learning experience to get through the delay and still have a good performance.”
With recent Fort Lewis graduate Payson McElveen winning Saturday’s Coca-Cola Road Race and McGeough taking Sunday’s Morehart-Murphy Subaru Circuit Race, Callahan’s win made it somewhat of a Skyhawks road racing sweep.
McGeough fought sickness to compete Monday knowing that all he had to do was race to place in the omnium, but he finished well behind the pack with a time of 44:07.02.
“I probably had no business being out here,” McGeough said. “But I knew all I had to do was participate to place in the omnium, so I just had a nice little bike ride through the valley.”
When the entire crowd disappeared and the riders began heading back to town in a group, the future teammates, Callahan and McGeough, waited to take back off together.
“I told you (Sunday) we were saying goodbye to a lot of good riders, but this is one of the guys we’re reloading with,” McGeough said as he pointed to Callahan.
“I’m super psyched to be coming to Fort Lewis, and I think it’ll be such a blast,” Callahan said. “I applied to Fort Lewis, they said they’d be happy to have me, and that was it. It was the only place I had in mind.”