Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ned Wins Again!

Back in the high life again
Overend, 55, wins fifth Iron Horse Classic road race
By Ryan Owens - Durango Herald Staff Writer

Bouré Bicycling Clothing’s ageless cycling wonder and owner, 55-year-old Ned Overend, acknowledges cheers from the crowd as he wins his record fifth Iron Horse Bicycle Classic Durango-to-Silverton road race.

SILVERTON – Not that anyone around these parts is surprised by anything Ned Overend does on a bicycle anymore, but it had been 19 long years since the man known as “Deadly Nedly” took home a road race title at the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic.

But at 55 years old and in the 40th installment of the race, the Durango cycling legend proved one thing to the pro men’s field and any potential doubters.

He’s still got it. And then some.

Overend made his move on Coal Bank Pass, building a sizeable lead and holding off Greg Krause, Drew Miller and Howard Grotts on Molas Pass in 2 hours, 18 minutes, 54 seconds to win his record fifth Iron Horse Classic Road Race title Saturday, maintaining his lead over four-time women’s champion Mara Abbott in the process.

As other riders began to struggle in both major climbs, Overend said he just “felt better and better.”

“(It’s been) too long. ... Howard made the move, and I went with him and hung on as long as I could. ... I felt stronger and stronger on Molas,” Overend said.

It was Overend’s first Iron Horse win since 1992, setting the record for the longest gap between road race victories and breaking a mark held by Michael Carter, who had 17 years between victories.

He’s only the second rider older than 40 to win the race, Carter being the other, and is the only one older than 50 to take the crown. Overend also won in 1983, 1986 and 1987.

The big move of the race came on Coal Bank Pass. Overend and Grotts left the lead peloton as the climb began, with Grotts looking like he might drop Overend halfway up, building a 10-second lead.

But Overend, the ultimate crafty veteran, chased down the former Durango DEVO standout near the summit and put some distance between the 19-year-old Cat 2/3 rider on the descent. He maintained the lead during the climb up Molas Pass, and the rest is history.

Ned descending Coal Bank Hill

“I used some experience to catch him on the descent and go by him,” said Overend, the defending singlespeed national champion. “Those 30 years came in handy for that. ... I was going downhill faster and through those corners faster. I’ve probably done it a couple hundred more times than him.”

Grotts, who easily won his category in 2:20:12, said riding at the front with Overend in his first IHBC race after jumping from the junior category was almost surreal.

“He’s always going to be fast and strong. It’s fun to ride with him. ... I really didn’t know what to think ... It was good coming over the top of (Coal Bank) and hearing that we had a 30-second gap,” the-soon-to-be Fort Lewis College cyclist said. Grotts just finished his collegiate season at Colorado School of Mines.

Overend said he enjoyed seeing the young Durango native make a serious run at the title, adding that Grotts’ time will come.

“Youngest kid and the oldest kid in the pack out there together. Could’ve been a story either way, huh?” he said. Read more...

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