An injury took out one of Durango and USA Cycling’s top riders before races began last weekend in Puerto Rico. A slew of Durango women filled the podiums.
Ruth Holcomb won the International Cycling Union (UCI) Junior Series race for riders ages 17-18 on Sunday in Salinas, Puerto Rico. The 18-year-old from Durango finished her cross-country mountain bike race in 1 hour, 14 minutes, 12 seconds to claim 90 UCI points. She edged another Durango rider, Lauren Aggeler, as the 17-year-old placed second in 1:16:51.
It was an American – and Colorado – sweep of the junior women’s podium with Tai-Lee Smith of Summit County third (1:17:41), Sofia Forney of Lakewood fourth (1:18:56) and Bailey Cioppa of Durango fifth (1:19:32).
“The race went super well,” Holcomb said. “The heat was super challenging, and it was super important to stay cool out there. After the first half of a lap, I just kind of attacked and was able to hold off the field. It was an awesome course out there with some fun features and steep hills.”
Holcomb, who was selected by USA Cycling for this week’s Pan American Continental Championships, will get to race the same course Thursday in the team relay and Friday in the junior women’s race.
“I’m super excited for the Pan Ams races, and it was definitely great to build some confidence last weekend,” she said.
Durango’s Riley Amos, who was also slated to race at the Pan American Championships in the men’s under-23 race, had to pull out of the UCI points race last weekend in Puerto Rico after a crash during a practice ride of the course. While hitting a rock drop, a strong crosswind took his bike out from under him. Amos landed shin-first on a lava rock that split his leg down to the tibia bone. He received 21 stitches in a Puerto Rican hospital. The leg is still not weight-bearing, meaning he likely won’t race this weekend.
“Thanks to everyone who helped me off the course and helped take care of me, and I’m looking forward to a, hopefully, speedy recovery,” Amos said in a post to Instagram. “Just another bump in the road. I’ll be back stronger and hungrier than ever.”
All of the riders in the elite races had to deal with extreme heat, something the Americans weren’t as prepared for after a winter of training with the Cactus Cup in Phoenix the week before the first real race in heat.
The men’s Tropical Mountain Bike Challenge victory went to Mexico’s Jose Gerardo Ulloa Arevalo in 1:27:52. That was six seconds ahead of Chile’s Martin Vidaurre Kossmann.
The top-American in the men’s UCI race was Russell Finsterwald of Colorado Springs, who placed ninth in 1:34:16. Durango’s Cole Paton was 12th in 1:34:59, while Stephan Davoust placed 15th in 1:35:37. Cobe Freeburn added another Durango result, as he placed 23rd in 1:39:10. A total of 59 racers finished with only 21 on the same lap as the winner.
Savilia Blunk of Fort Lewis College kept up her strong start to the 2021 season with a second-place finish only nine seconds behind winner Daniela Campuzano Chavez Peon, who finished in 1:27:44. Third went to FLC alumna Sofia Gomez-Villafane, who finished in 1:31:25 a week after she won the three-stage Cactus Cup.