ASPEN The opportunity was too good to pass up for Jessica Phillips and the pro women cyclists.
I was getting really frustrated when they first announced this (USA Pro Cycling Challenge) race in Aspen, said Phillips, an Aspen native and pro road racer.
Part of me was excited, of course. But I thought this isnt really fair. This is what we do (pro women cyclists). And now we have to sit here and cheer on the guys? she said rhetorically.
She wasnt about to sit and cheer.
So I ... wanted to put on a race to show that women go fast, too, said Phillips, a former all-around athlete at Aspen High School and 2002 national road race champion.
She promptly organized the Aspen/Snowmass Womens Pro Stage Race, a three-day event with the final criterium scheduled right before the USA Pro Challenge road stage ended in downtown Aspen on Wednesday.
A time trial, a circuit road race and a criterium were staged this week with Durango cyclists making headlines in the crit and the overall standings.
Former Fort Lewis College racer Lauren Hall, whos headed to Europe to race next week, pushed the pace early Wednesday in the hour-long criterium for her Colavita team.
And Durango-based Kristin McGrath also pushed the field with her Peanut Butter team leader and Olympic champion Kristin Armstrong.
In the end, Anne Samplonius of NOW Cycling squeezed through to win on the final lap of the crit.
Armstrong was right behind in second, giving her the overall title, helped along by McGrath. And Hall finished third in the criterium, with McGrath fourth and third overall in the general classification.
We talked before the race and said lets go out here and put on a great show for such a good crowd, said Hall, who lives in Dolores and recently was featured on the ESPN website.
They havent had a pro race here since the Coors Classic, so we wanted to go out and show them a race, she said.
Jessica Phillips did a great job pulling all these women together. And she rode in it. Shes an amazing person, Hall said.
McGrath, who lives and trains in Durango, was ecstatic after the race.
Were stoked to come away with the (overall) win and a couple of stage wins, said McGrath, a former two-sport standout at the University of Tennessee.
The first day, I was really excited about how it went, McGrath said after winning the uphill time trial to the picturesque Maroon Bells.
But really, this whole race has been really well-organized, she said. The energy is awesome, and that makes us that much more motivated.
Phillips said the key was organizational help on the ground and assistance from the pro womens teams.
They really stepped up, and they came here to race, said Phillips, who was 14th overall.
We had Jeannie Longo (the French cycling legend) compete. And Connie Carpenter was our announcer, said Phillips, a former national road racing champion and national time trial champion.
But the day got even better for Phillips after the crowd-pleasing womens criterium.
Her fiance, Tejay Van Garderen of the HTC-Highroad mens team, took the overall lead in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge by finishing second in Wednesdays stage from Gunnison to Aspen.