The women’s race lasts an hour and the men’s 90 minutes, plenty of time for the pre-race plans of Twilight Criterium riders to break down and force them to improvise.
But both the men’s and women’s pro race winners stayed disciplined Saturday, and sticking with their plans paid off with victories in the 30th edition of the Downtown Boise cycling race.
Ty Magner edged out teammate Luke Keough for the men’s title, and Samantha Schneider overtook Olympian and Boise resident Kristin Armstrong for the women’s championship.
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Ulises Castillo set the pace early, pushing way out in front of the men’s pro race. But the UnitedHealthcare team didn’t bite, and the entire team overtook the field in the final five laps, setting up a wall to challengers.
The five-man team took turns riding out in front, letting its two sprinters — Magner of Griffin, Ga., and Keough of Sandwich, Mass. — to draft behind them. The plan worked to perfection as Magner swooped into the lead in the second to last turn with Keough right behind him for insurance.
“Before the race, we have a plan,” Magner said. “We’ll say, ‘You’ll take five (laps) to go, you’ll take four to go and cut back into line.’ And ideally for the last lap, I’ll still have two guys in front of me and Luke. The guys are just so strong, they can go through and through and through and keep us fresh for the sprint.”
Saturday’s race marked the first in Boise for Magner since 2012. In its 30th year, the Twilight Criterium moved in front of the Capitol building with the start-finish line feet away from the steps of the state Capitol.
The 1-kilometer course wound between Jefferson and Bannock and 6th and 9th streets as racers flew past packed restaurant patios, fans hung from the windows of apartment buildings and civilian bikes were tied to everything that didn’t move.
The new location allowed an infield at Capitol Park that featured Treasure Valley mountain bike clubs, Idaho breweries and vendors hawking T-shirts with the correction pronunciation of “Boise.”
Fans hung from the railings throughout the backstretch ringing their ubiquitous bells as the sun set on the Capitol for the finish.
“You can’t hear yourself think with three laps to go,” Magner said. “There are not many crowds like that in the states. It’s incredible. It gives you adrenaline and carries you all the way to the finish.”
SCHNEIDER CATCHES ARMSTRONG
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong led the final five laps of the Twilight Criterium, set for a hometown hero finish.
But Samantha Schneider of West Allis, Wisc., caught her with a final sprint on the last lap to win the women’s pro race for the first time in Downtown Boise. Her previous best finish was third.
“It’s pretty awesome being able to come in and beat an Olympian,” Schneider said. “It’s pretty memorable. She’s riding so incredibly strong. You saw her in the front pretty much the whole race. I’m definitely pretty excited to take the win there.”
Schneider hung just off Armstrong’s wheel during the closing laps before her and a pack of sprinters made their move, sending Armstrong to a sixth-place finish.
“We’re just completely different riders,” Schneider said. “She’s a time trialist, and I’m a sprinter. For me to be competitive at the end, I have to save it for the end.”