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Day two Superior Morgul Classic crit win for Mara Abbott; Alison Powers keeps overall lead

May 18, 2014
Mara Abbott leads the women's pro-1-2 field at the 2014 Superior Morgul criterium

Mara Abbott leads the women’s pro-1-2 field at the 2014 Superior Morgul criterium

On Saturday Mara Abbott (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team) joined seventeen women in one of the biggest pro-1-2 local road racing fields in Colorado to replay some treasured cycling history and update a bit of her own.

Abbott won the second race of the three-day Superior Morgul Classic, the Summit Criterium. She crossed the finish line solo after extending a lead she had gained while taking a prime in the closing laps around the 0.8 mile suburban circuit. Teammate Alison Powers claimed the field sprint for second.

Powers started the crit in the overall leader’s jersey after clocking the best result in the individual time trial Friday evening. Going into day three Powers retains the overall lead with Flavia Oliveira (FCS|Zngine p/b Mr. Restore) holding second. The three-day event scores overall results using the omnium system.

The Superior Morgul Classic has taken place every year since 2010 in the Town of Superior just southeast of Boulder. It’s designed around a venerated piece of American cycling history, the Morgul-Bismark loop. The circuit was one of the stages in what many consider the greatest American road race, the former Red Zinger / Coors Classic. Both put on women’s races as well as men’s; notable overall winners included Connie Carpenter Phinney and Jeannie Longo.

Day three of the Superior Morgul Classic traces the Morgul-Bismark loop, however road construction will again alter the course this year.

Criterium race action

After climbing from the start line the riders turned into an alleyway between residential driveways then continued onto wide road. A descent and turn led them back uphill to the start/finish line.

Abby Mickey leads the field on the descent

Abby Mickey leads the field on the descent

The strongest among the field emerged in the initial two-minute laps. Twenty16’s Abby Mickey, Maura Kinsella (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), Abbott and Powers, Oliveira, and Tibco’s Patricia Schwager drove the pace early on, stretching out the field. Small splits appeared periodically at the front, but the group quickly came back together.

Powers for the most part remained tucked in behind Abbott or among the field. “Alison is doing the full omnium and I’m not,” Abbott said after the race. “So it was important that we kept her in the omnium points.” With both women racing extremely well so far this season and a field without full-strength teams, they intended to keep their heads up and see what their combined strengths could yield.

Both women said their knowledge of crit racing rules helped on a course where four categories intermingled and sorting out who belonged to which category proved challenging.

“Because we lapped so many people and we were so many different fields, it was like: Wait, we just lapped our own field, so now we start over. I don’t think some of the other girls realized that,” said Powers, the current national criterium champion.

As the race neared its fifty minute conclusion Abbott took charge at the front; the women at the end of the line struggled to hold on and several dropped away. Abbott secured a prime with five laps remaining. Nobody latched onto her wheel. She gained ten seconds in that lap and went on to finish on the circuit’s hill with a cushion of 28 seconds.

Abbott said the finish line across a hill factored into her result. First, she got her gap there when she sprinted for the prime. Then the hill hampered efforts to catch her.

“I think when people are chasing – especially if they don’t have teammates, the hill makes it harder to chase because it breaks up the race and it’s harder to get a rhythm,” she said. “So I think once I was off the front it also helped me, not necessarily because climbing is my strength but just because it makes it a harder race to chase on.”

It was Abbott’s first crit win in probably five years or more, a different kind of conquest to add to her recent history of successes. As an ace climber she’s more accustomed to showing her strength in hilly road races or uphill time trials.

“It was super fun,” the 2013 Giro d’Italia Femminile winner said, “and to be able to back it up with Alison winning the sprint, it was kind of perfect.”

For full results see the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado website.

Mara Abbott wins the Superior Morgul Classic Summit Criterium

Mara Abbott wins the Superior Morgul Classic Summit Criterium with lapped riders watching

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