SILVERTON - Anthony Colby saw a classic opportunity. And the Durango cyclist wasn't about to let it pedal away.Rather, Colby seized his chance to break away from the chase peloton late in Saturday morning's Iron Horse Bicycle Classic road race from Durango to Silverton.
Still two minutes behind a solo breakaway by Durango's Ben Kneller in the pro men's division, Colby used his classic maneuver to drop the main pack as the 50-mile race headed down Coal Bank Pass.
Then, Colby set his sights on Kneller, who already had started up the final climb of Molas Pass.
Colby, a former Fort Lewis College cyclist now riding for the Colavita-Sutter Home pro team, charged up Molas and reeled in Kneller, just as Kneller started to struggle at the top of the final ascent in the 38th annual IHBC.
"I caught Ben at the top of Molas, right at Andrews Lake," Colby, 30, said after he roared down Molas Pass and sprinted down Silverton's main thoroughfare to win the 2009 Iron Horse road race in 2 hours, 20 minutes, 4 seconds.
"When I caught up to him (Kneller), I could see he was ... shaking," Colby said. "So I just booked it on past and went for the descent."
In a move that matched a similar championship attack by Boulder's Phil Zajicek two years ago, Colby produced the same result - first place.
Two years ago, Colby watched as Zajicek's breakaway from the peloton led to his 2007 Iron Horse road race victory. Colby finished second. (The 2008 road race was wiped out by snow.)This year, Zajicek watched as Colby put his name on the elite list of Iron Horse winners.
Zajicek and a gang of six other cyclists crossed the Silverton finish line about a minute behind Colby. They all finished in the same official time of 2:21:01.
"Colby came around me like I was standing still," said second-place finisher Alex Hagman, another former Fort Lewis College cyclist. "It was a good move ... a really good move."
Hagman nipped Zajicek at the finish, with the Boulder cyclist taking third place.
Greg Krause of Littleton, Jonathan Garcia of Fort Collins, Dan Bowman of Durango, Cameron Brenneman of Santa Fe and Kevin Nicol of Lafayette finished fourth through eighth, respectively.
"I cramped near the top of Molas," a beaming Kneller said after the race. "It's fun to have ... this kind of competition. It was a great field."
Kneller, the defending Iron Horse time trial champion, said he launched his early breakaway with current FLC rider Ian Burnett to try to create a big lead before the climbs.
"I just didn't think I could climb with those guys," Kneller said. "I tried to work a little space in there."
Slowed by cramping, Kneller had to dismount at the top of Molas Pass and regain his physical composure for the final 10 miles into Silverton. Kneller finished 11th.
"I jumped on that first (early) break," said the 6-foot-4 Burnett, FLC's tall and rangy rider.
"I wanted to get as much of a lead as I could before the passes. Then I just tried to hang on," Burnett said.
The anticipated precipitation stayed away with dry roads for Saturday's racers and tour riders.
"Really, it was perfect weather," said Durango's Matt Shriver, the head coach of Fort Lewis College Cycling and a former pro rider. "We had ideal conditions ... nice and cool, and the roads were dry."
Shriver dueled with the top pros Saturday, eventually finishing 26th (2:27:58).
"It's still fun to get out and mix it up with the guys," Shriver said.
"This is such a good event. It brings a lot of people together."
But the day's biggest smile belonged to the soft-spoken Colby, a Durango cyclist who treasures Durango's cycling legacy.
"For me, it's a huge race," Colby said. "With all the time I spend thinking about this race, getting ready for this race ... it's huge. I was psyched for it."
He's also humbled by his victory, Colby said.
"It's an honor to win (the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic). It's an honor to be there with Ned (Overend) and John Tomac and the others. They are my idols."