By Eddie Clark
(April 7, 2012) BOULDER, Colo.—One of the hardest, if not the very hardest, one day road race in Colorado was again hosted on the rural farm roads of Boulder County with nothing less than exceptional conditions and competition. In fact, over 800 road racers took the start line to contest this Colorado spring time classic.
"It turned out way better than we expected. Yesterday it was so windy out here the sand was like bb's, and luckily it just blew in this amazing weather that we got to have today. I'm really thankful for all the volunteers and all the sponsors that help make it happen, and thanks for all the people that come out and show how much they love racing on these roads" said DBC Events promoter Chris Grealish regarding the splendid outcome.
In past years, the race has seen conditions bordering on freezing to muddy, and to opposite extremes of hot, loose and dusty. Fortunately, this year's race featured dirt roads that were mostly hard packed dirt with plenty of bone jarring and bolt loosening small pot holes to keep racers on their toes. The weather was also in cooperation with plenty of sunshine, mild temperatures, and only a light wind.
Starting in the brisk morning air at 8:45am, the Men's Cat4 race took off for 2 laps around the 18.7 mile course. Consisting of nearly 57 percent unpaved roads, the course also included plenty of sharp turns and short but stout hills which served as worthy attack points for the racers.
The Men's 35+ Cat4 winner, David Bertino, shared his pre-race advise for his team "To quote the (rock band) .38 special song, hold on loosely and don't let go." Which was precisely what he did as his Real D/Amgen team went to the front and laid the power down in the finals hills approaching the finish. With a softened up pelton and 200 meters to go, Bertino was able to uncork his sprint for the win.
At 11am, the very talent stacked Men's Pro12 field racing commenced in earnest for 4 laps totaling 74.8 miles. California Giant Berry Farm/Specialized racer and Boulder local Robin Eckmann opened his racing account with a prompt attack on the first section of pavement on Nelson Road at just a few miles into the race. Before long a group of five established itself with Eckmann at 20-30 seconds in front of the peloton.
With two laps to go Horizon Organic/Panache played their hand with its strength in numbers to reel in nearly all of the early break away excepting Eckmann and Julian Kyer (Juwi Solar). At that point, Sean Sullivan (Elbowz Racing) brought Frank Pipp (Bissell) up to the early attackers with Mike Creed (Optum) and a small assortment of others desperately hanging on in vain. The break would stick to the finish as the field splintered behind them. On the run into the finish line, Pipp was superior and won by a margin of 6 seconds while Eckmann capitalized on his day of hard work to win the breakaway sprint for second place ahead of third placed Sean Sullivan.
While Frank Pipp calls Boulder his home, it was just his first time competing in the Boulder Roubaix. "There was three of us (Bissell teammates Chris Baldwinn and Eric Young), and we knew we had to be careful and not let anything get too far up the road because it's a local race and there's not too many teams that are going to line up and chase. So from the start I was at the front to cover moves. I knew I felt good. My wife and newborn baby girl were here so I had a little extra motivation to do well. I'm impressed, this was a cool race" recounted Pipp regarding the race and his win.
Perhaps the best quote of the day came from Alison Powers (NOW/Novartis) immediately after her Women's Pro12 victory, "Whoa I'm tired!". It was for good reason too since Powers spent the last half of the race on a solo breakaway that she used to gain 2:12 on the field by the finish.
"My teammate (Anne Samplonious) and I wanted to make it hard and make peoples legs hurt. I saw that when Anne went hard gaps started opening so on the next side wind dirt section I went hard, and then I had a gap and I had to keep going. It was nice because Anne was in the field and I knew if I got caught she could go. So I just went as hard as I could and sort of hoped they would catch up so Anne could go solo, but instead I got a good workout today, it was fast." said Powers regarding her second victory at the Boulder Roubaix.