WILMINGTON - MIT graduate student Cameron Cogburn broke away from the pack to take first place in the Wilmington-Whiteface 100K mountain bike race Sunday.
Cogburn finished the 69-mile event in 4 hours, 6 minutes, 21.20 seconds. That put him well ahead of second-place finisher Gered Dunne of White River Junction, Vt., who finished in 4:11:14.22. Derek Treadwell of Topsham, Maine who had a time of 4:22:40.96 for third place out of the 331 finishers.
The race was a qualifier for the Leadville 100 mountain bike race and part of a series that includes events across the country. The Leadville 100 is high-caliber event that traverses the high-altitude, extreme terrain of the Colorado Rockies.
Nordic combined Olympic gold-medalist Billy Demong of Vermontville celebrates with his 2-year-old son Liam at the finish line at Whiteface Mountain after Sunday’s Wilmington-Whiteface 100K mountain bike race. Demong finished in eighth place.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
The Whiteface race started and finished at the ski area. In between, racers went on a long loop out toward Jay Mountain. The race included some singletrack, but also lots of hilly dirt and paved roads.
"(The course) played to my strengths," Cogburn said. "I just got away after the halfway point, coming through the feed zone, all the guys stopped. I didn't have a drop or anyone here, so I carried all my stuff and just kept going. Killed it up the hill and just tried to hold it from there."
Cogburn is mainly a road racer, who said he has finished in first place in the Whiteface Mountain Uphill Race and Wimington-Whiteface Road Race. He also took first place in USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships for Division II colleges in Utah this past May.
Cogburn had been with a pack of about 10 cyclists for about half the race before he broke away to take a big lead. Among those in the lead pack were six-time Leadville 100 winner Dave Wiens of Gunnison, Colo., who has defeated both Floyd Landis and Lance Armstrong in the Leadville 100.
"There was a group of about 10 or 12," Wiens said. "I got dropped on the steep pavement on Jay Mountain. On all the climbs, I could barely hang on. I think it was Cameron and Billy Demong (who) were both in the front. They were pushing really hard, but then Cameron he went off by himself. Nobody wanted any part of that, I don't think. I don't know what happened to Billy, but the pace it either slowed down or I started feeling better. Maybe a little bit of both."
Demong of Vermontville is an Olympic gold medalist in nordic combined skiing who bikes competitively in the summer months. He wound up finishing in eighth place in 4:23:51.22 after he fell off the pack in the second half of the race, which meant he rode the last stretch by himself.
"Honestly, the first half I felt awesome," Demong said. "I was starting to count my chickens a little bit, and then reality set in on the way home and I kind of blew up a little bit. But then I was able to settle into my own rhythm and just kind of stayed where I was. I started awesome, finished pretty good, had a little rough spot, but all in all a great event."
One hundred of the mountain bikers qualified for the Leadville 100. Fifty of the qualifying spots were awarded based on performance in each division for men and women, and the other 50 were distributed randomly from a pool of all racers, who finished under the maximum cutoff time of 8 hours. Since the Leadville 100 lottery had already taken place, this was one of only five nationwide Leadville Series qualifying races in which cyclists could still qualify and compete in the Leadville 100.
Demong was among those who qualified but he said he compete this year. Instead, he plans to train for the upcoming ski season. This will be an important year for him, with the 2014 Sochi Olympics scheduled for February.
"I've got some more serious stuff to start focusing on," said Demong, standing in the rain. "I like my water frozen."
The first woman to cross the finish line Sunday was Crystal Anthony of Beverly, Mass. She finished 15th overall and 4:42.00:71.
"It was pretty awesome. I just kind of went out and rode my own race," she said. "I just tried to stay with the group for the first part of the race and then over the hills, and just keep plugging away."
Anthony beat Rebecca Rusch of Ketchum, Idaho, who has been the top woman finisher in the past four Leadville 100 races. Rusch finished in 4:49:50.46.
"I'm always happy when the women's field gets stronger and stronger and stronger," Rusch said. "It's good for everybody, so second is not the first loser."
Anthony took the lead right from the beginning.
"She went right from the saw her and then I never saw here," Rusch said. " I was kind of trying to chase and I didn't know where she was and didn't have time splits, so I doing my own race."
While most mountain bikers competed in the 100k race, there was also a 50k race that started and finished at Whiteface.
Caitlin Curran of Burlington, Vt., took first place in that race beating Lake Placid's Colin Delaney and Joe Paterson of Lake George.
Curran had a time of 2:14:39.64, while Delaney finished in 2:14:55.73 and Paterson finished in 2:18:18.07.
Delaney likely would have won if he didn't have a mix up in the final section of the race on Whiteface Mountain. He was the leader coming into the final stretch, but due to some confusion with the course layout, wound up going backward on the final loop for about three-quarters of a mile.
Despite the mixup, he seemed satisfied with his performance.
"It still was a great day," he said. "It felt really good. It was fun course. That was the first time that I've done this race in any capacity. ... I didn't have any expectations coming in and I just wanted to ride hard and I was just able to do that."