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Grajales and Conklin conquer dirt, dodge brush fire to win 2015 Boulder-Roubaix

April 11, 2015
Cesar Grajales shows Boulder-Roubaix's effects after his win

Cesar Grajales shows Boulder-Roubaix’s effects after his win

[updated April 17, 2015]

Cesar Grajales, now racing for the bike manufacturer Team Stradalli Cycles, won the men’s pro-1-2 Boulder-Roubaix 2015 edition by escaping from a small break-away that formed during the third of four laps. A break-away proved decisive in the women’s pro-1-2 race as well. That victory went to Lucy Conklin (Rally Sport) who sprinted away from the lead group of four near the end of the final lap around the 18.7 mile circuit with alternating pavement and dirt surfaces.

Lucy Conklin won Boulder-Roubaix with a 12 second cushion

Lucy Conklin won Boulder-Roubaix with a 12 second cushion

Boulder-Roubaix lacked the cobbles that personify its namesake, the Paris-Roubaix one-day classic, but it dished out its own modicum of suffering.

Over fifty percent of the loop consisted of hard-pack dirt roads. Transitions from pavement to dirt and corners peppered with loose gravel unseated riders. By the end of the afternoon, multiple sets of knees and elbows had etched blood into the course’s northeast Boulder rural byways, and uneven surfaces left riders testing their flat-fixing skills or bumping along on deflated tubular tires.

Additionally, some fields clocked more miles than they had bargained for at their blue-sky starts.

Cool heads and tactics after a neutralized women’s race

The pro-1-2 women completed about 62 instead of 56 miles due to a mid-race diversion from the original route.

Officials reportedly made the change for one lap due to a brush fire in irrigation ditches along the course.

“The first lap we definitely rode [past] the fire but we thought it was a controlled burn so we weren’t really concerned about it,” Kristen Legan (Evol Racing) explained after the race. “And then the second lap they came up on the moto and said we would probably be diverted.”

As part of the diversion officials neutralized the race not long after a chase group had reigned in a solo rider off the front and a subsequent attack resulted in a four-woman break containing Conklin, Legan and her teammate Kate Powlison, and Gwen Inglis (Stages Racing). At the officials’ direction, the foursome stopped to await the field behind them.

When asked about the diversion experience, Conklin said, “It was a little bit frustrating…A part of me was a little worried because my heart rate was coming down, the adrenaline was wearing off. And then I just realized that that was happening to all of us. So I thought, ‘Don’t sweat it.’”

The field’s offer to send the break up the road after neutralization sorted out the situation as well. “Then we [break riders] could just say ‘OK, all that work wasn’t for nothing and all four of us are going through the same thing right now, so just don’t stress yourself out’ – because that will just fatigue you more than anything,” Conklin later said.

And so the four break members sped away after a period of neutralized riding and re-established the gap they previously held.

The Evol Racing riders later indicated they took the delay in stride as well. “The officials did a good job of keeping everyone as informed as they could…It didn’t hurt our race, I don’t think,” Powlison said. “But we had to ride a little bit extra. The legs will feel that.”

Only several of the ten categories on course were required to follow the detour, and the re-distributed fields resulted in confusion at the finish.

However, when another rider crossed the finish line ahead of her, Conklin knew the woman had somehow not taken the diversion and couldn’t lay claim to the victory. The Rally Sport rider celebrated with a fist-pump under the finishing truss. Powlison came in second with Legan next in third.

Conklin had looked forward to the event more than any race thus far in the road season; she enjoys racing on the dirt and called Boulder-Roubaix her kind of course. She also felt especially good about her result because she raced without teammates in a pack that included some handy sprinters among well-represented teams like Evol and Stages.

“For me,” she said, “it was a really tough race.” While trying to stay away with the break, she imagined the possible scenarios that could play out in the race, including how she could best respond to maximize her chances for success.

“And so I really tried to race conservatively and then when I put in efforts tried to make them more attacks than just pulling people,” Conklin later said. “And it worked out for me today so I was happy about that. They were great girls to race against so it was exciting.

“But it hurt. It hurt a lot.”

Grajales pulls himself into winning break

In the men’s race Grajales set himself up for a shot at the win by bridging across alone to a small break with two laps of the dry circuit remaining.

“From the beginning I was feeling good. Then the right break-away was gone and I thought, ‘Oh my God, there is the race,’” the Colombian said before the podium ceremonies. “So I had to go across solo. I went for it. It was like a hard TT, but I made it.”

Like Conklin, Grajales believed the race suited him. “I like this kind of race because it is like pure power. There’s not really a rest.

“It feels really good to win again, to be on the podium again. It’s motivation for the rest of the year,” he said. “It’s not an easy race. We had a lot of good guys, a big field. So it feels good.”

Taylor Warren (Colorado Collective) beat Camilo Zambrano (Sonic Boom Racing p/b Lucky Pie) in a sprint for second.

For full results from every category at Boulder-Roubaix, including collegiate races, see

Collegiate men's A podium legs circle the "pavé" Boulder-Roubaix prize

Collegiate men’s A podium legs circle the “pavé” Boulder-Roubaix prize

Gallery (more to come)

From → Road Racing

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