Classic repeat for Rostel
CMU coach wins criterium title again at Mav Classic
As the pace motorcycle, its headlight shining brightly under Saturday’s twilight sky, turned off Third Street and onto White Avenue, the crowd waited in breathless anticipation.
Who would be next to make the turn?
Would it be Colorado Mesa’s Patric Rostel or the University of Colorado’s Brett Peters, who held a slim lead at the start of the final lap?
It didn’t take long for Colorado Mesa University Cycling Director Scott Mercier, the night’s emcee, to make the call over the loudspeaker.
Wearing the stars-and-stripes jersey he earned by winning last year’s national road criterium championship, an easily distinguishable Rostel emerged first — and with a sizable lead. As he made his final push down White Avenue toward the finish line in front of U.S. Bank in downtown Grand Junction, he glanced back to make sure he had the race in hand and then thrust his fist into the air as the jovial crowd cheered loudly and rattled cowbells.
He had won his second consecutive Maverick Classic criterium title in the collegiate men’s A division.
“It’s pretty special to win your home criterium,” said Rostel, a Colorado Mesa senior who was recently hired as the cycling team’s new head coach. “It was definitely a pretty cool feeling. I knew I was going to win it. I had such a big gap and I heard the crowd yelling. It was an incredible feeling.”
It’s a feeling Rostel, who hails from Berlin, Germany, hopes to replicate at the May 3-5 Collegiate Road National Championships in Ogden, Utah.
“At the beginning of the season, I was saying I’d win two races — the home race and the nationals,” he said. “I won this one. We’ll see how that one goes.”
The first one didn’t come easily, with Rostel waiting until late to make his move. With about three laps to go, he made his charge. After cruising well back of the leaders for much of the race, he crossed the start-finish line with a lead with two laps remaining.
Peters led by the slimmest of margins with one lap to go. But then Rostel used his legs to finish off the field.
“Right after that first turn, I pushed it to the end,” he said. “It was like pure will and pure pushing the bike.”
“He made a move after that right-hand turn there and held a gap,” Peters said. “I couldn’t close. He had kind of the same gap the whole time. We were both going all-out.”
For Peters, the second-place showing isn’t something he took for granted, not after crashing out on his second-to-last lap in last year’s race.
“I got this,” he said, pointing to a hip-level hole on the left side of his black and gold CU jersey.
“This is probably my best collegiate result,” he continued. “I’m happy with it.”
Saturday’s criterium was preceded by a morning time trial in Fruita. The three-stage Maverick Classic, which serves as the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference Championship and also features non-collegiate racing divisions, concludes this morning with a 9 a.m. road race in Palisade.
Strong road debut for Norris
Stacy Norris is new to road cycling. The Colorado Mesa senior made her debut one to remember Saturday, taking second place in the women’s C criterium behind Air Force’s Ashley Thrower.
The Central High School graduate didn’t spend much time training for her first road race.
“I haven’t really had time to race at all,” she said. “I haven’t done any training this semester, so I’m pretty happy.”
What brought her out for the team?
“I started biking with a couple kids on the team and they said, ‘Do you want to be on the team?’ ” said Norris, who attended Western State Colorado University for four years before transferring to Mesa. “I’ve had a blast. I made track nationals, mountain bike nationals and cyclocross nationals in my first year of biking, so I guess I’m kind of good.”
Mullervys shine in pro 1-2 race
As rain fell late Saturday night, a pair of CMU alums treated the hardy souls still taking in the action to a show.
Kevin Mullervy and twin brother Conor finished first and third, respectively, in the men’s pro 1-2 race.
Coach Slaughter still at it
Former CMU cycling coach Steve Slaughter participated in Saturday’s Maverick Classic events, finishing second in men’s masters at the time trial and then competing in the night criterium.
Masters riders competed alongside Cat. 3-4-5 cyclists at the Maverick Classic criterium.
“I’m probably 20 years older than anybody else,” joked the 52-year-old Slaughter, who is still very much associated with the CMU cycling program. “With my time trial this morning, I was done. I can only go so hard. I volunteer and help coordinate, so it takes a lot of energy.”
Slaughter is pleased with the direction of the program, which is ranked No. 1 in Division II.
“We’re setting a foundation now, so I think it’s going to stay solid,” he said. “I’m excited.”