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New Colorado criterium champs Triplett and Bingham build success from different beginnings

July 15, 2013

State champs medal

[updated 7/16/2013]

Jennifer Triplett (Boulder Orthopedics) and Brad Bingham (Horizon Panache) took first in the Pro-1-2 women’s and men’s categories of the 2013 Colorado State Criterium Championships at Sunday’s Longmont Criterium.

The victories demonstrated not only the pair’s strength as cyclists, but showed an athlete can start racing as a junior or an adult and find success either way.

Junior champ

This year the Longmont race celebrated its 27th edition. Riders competed on a 0.7 mile L-shaped course near downtown, speeding under towering Cottonwood trees and along streets lined with bungalow-style homes still adorned with Fourth of July flags.

The men’s Pro-1-2 race began hot with riders including Groove Subaru-Alpha Bicycle’s Russell Stevenson, Jon Tarkington (Natural Grocers Cycling Team), and Alex Lewis of Horizon Panache attacking but never pulling far away from the field. Racing continued in a cycle of attacks and reabsorption of the would-be break-aways by a hungry chasing field.

In the final lap Lewis picked up the pace at the front where Bingham and Primal’s Drew Christopher joined him. “Drew jumped right before the last corner and pretty much led me out which was awesome,” Bingham said. “I felt a little bad getting him on the line there but he’s a good friend. We have a little bit of rivalry going back and forth.”

Light-headed from his effort, the Horizon Panache rider almost lost his balance on the finish line as he raised his arms to barely shoulder height before planting them back on the bars. The new champ was elated about topping off a winning weekend for Horizon Panache; teammates scored victories the day before at the Firestone Classic criterium and in the omnium at the U.S. Grand Prix of Sprinting.

The win didn’t mark a first state championship for 26 year-old Bingham, who stated he netted more than one championship as a junior.

Brad Bingham seeks balance as he wins the 2013 Colorado State Criterium Championship race in Longmont

Adult start

Triplett is 35 years-old and began competitive cycling at age 25. She’s a previous track masters national champion, has stood on several elite track national podiums, and has earned first in multiple criteriums. Prior to cycling she threw punches in the ring. In 2001 she traveled to the first women’s boxing world championships as an alternate.

“Getting beat in the head lost its appeal after a while,” Triplett wrote after the criterium championships, “and the perfect storm found me commuting to work by bike and quickly realizing I enjoyed the hour commute more than the work itself and I re-prioritized my life around cycling.” She’s using her talents for others too, riding as pilot on a tandem with a blind stoker, Shawn Cheshire, for the U.S. Paralympic team. The duo will ride at the World Championships this August in Canada.

The new female champ won Sunday almost three seconds ahead of Gwen Inglis on Team Kenda p/b RACC. As Triplett told it, Margell Abel (Natural Grocers Cycling Team) attacked the field with a few laps remaining. Then Anne Donley (Rise Above Racing) had a go and opened a gap with half a lap remaining. Natural Grocers’ Kate Powlison chased and caught Donley with Triplett who subsequently rode away to first place.

Triplett and Bingham embraced cycling at different ages. But that didn’t appear to create different post-race experiences. Seemingly magnets for ambitious youth, each attracted a couple of young fans. They also each enjoyed the special attention of another type of fan – their respective fiancés.

Women’s Colorado criterium championship podium – Kate Powlison 4th, Gwen Inglis 2nd, Jennifer Triplett 1st, Molly VanRheen 3rd, Margell Abel 5th (l – r), the top five Colorado-based riders.

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