Riders hit the road in Smithsburg

June 18, 2011|By WILL ROBINSON | Staff Correspondent

SMITHSBURG — More than 270 cyclists rolled into Smithsburg on Saturday to compete in the first stage of the 2011 Tour of Washington County, an event that continues to garner interest from competitors worldwide.

“The entire talent pool has gotten deeper, as this is the only event like this for amateurs in the Mid-Atlantic,” said tour co-director Joe Jefferson. “We have riders from Pittsburgh, Chapel Hill, Mexico and the Iranian national team.”

The riders are separated into four groups: Senior IV, Senior III/IV, Women’s Open and the elite Senior I/II/III group.

Following a 4.5-mile prologue Saturday morning, competitors rode a hilly road loop, which started on Old Forge Road and ended on Leitersburg-Smithsburg Pike. Most competitors completed six laps for a total of 37 miles, but the elite riders legged out 10 laps for 64 miles.

The Senior I/II/III race was highlighted by a 50-man sprint to the finish line.

“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” said Jefferson. “A fifty man sprint? That was bananas.”

Among the Senior I/II/III group were 2008 Tour of Washington County champion Josh Frick, of Germantown, Md., and USA U23 national team member Nate Wilson.

“This is my third time at the Tour, I’m pretty familiar with the race and the area,” said Frick, who started in the “pole position” but finished outside the top 30. “We do laps around Washington and Frederick county a lot. The road surface is great, and the locals are pretty bike-tolerant.”

The Antietam Velo Club, host of the Tour of Washington County, was represented by eight riders spanning the men’s groups. Dennis Crockett had AVC/Team Hagerstown’s best finish at 26th in the Senior IV race. John Parks, who started 85th in the Senior I/II/III race, finished 31st.

“I felt good at the start, but the pack swarmed around me after the first hill,” said Parks. “I think the guys that raced (in Friday’s Kick-Off Classic Criterium in downtown Hagerstown) were feeling it, especially after the humidity set in. I know I was. But overall, it was a good, tough race.”

Among those who raced in Friday’s criterium was AVC/Team Hagerstown member Mike Spinnler, the oldest rider in the III/IV group at 52. Spinnler went on to finish 59th overall.

“It was faster than I thought,” Spinnler said. “I was dropped from the pack after 12 miles, so I had 25 miles to ride solo. I went into time-trial mode from there to bust it out.”

There will be no rest for the weary, as the riders who completed the road course will be rewarded with two more races Sunday, the 10-mile time trial in Boonsboro, followed by the Williamsport criterium. The action begins at the Boonsboro Free Library at 7 a.m.

“They call the time trial the ‘race of truth.’ It really takes it out of you, especially after this road course,” said Spinnler.

The individual winners of the Smithsburg road course were: Benjamin Fogle in the Senior IV, Jonathan D’Alba in the Senior IV/III, Ainhoa Perez-Diez in the Women’s Open and Cory Scott in the Senior I/II/III.

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