Maverick Classic criterium a big hit with fans, cyclists
Colorado Mesa University cycling director Rick Crawford wasn’t so much concerned about how his team raced as how CMU’s first downtown criterium ran.
The first-year coach was just hoping to lay the groundwork Saturday night for future downtown criteriums.
“To be honest with you, the energy here has exceeded my expectations,” Crawford said. “They’re making so much noise down there, these guys are pumped up. These college kids haven’t seen anything like this ever.
“The critical mass I was hoping to achieve with this race in terms of participation from riders, the participation of the Grand Junction community coming out to support it, it’s a home run. It’s definitely paving the way for future races.”
Close to 2,000 fans showed up to watch the historic Maverick Classic, according to Crawford’s estimation. The Mad Cow Classic road race is at 9 a.m. today on Reeder Mesa Road in Whitewater.
“I’m really pleased with this,” Crawford said. “This is a very great initial effort. The team that put this together did magic in such a short time frame. There is a lot of team spirit in this town. I’ve never had staff like this to work with. It’s usually just me and a couple grunts out there sweeping the course.”
The Mavericks did pretty well.
Patric Röstel crossed the finish line just in front of two other cyclists to win the Collegiate Men’s A race.
Röstel has participated in criteriums in Germany in front of 30,000 people, but was impressed with Mesa’s first downtown crit.
“This stretch (along the finish line) was like the same feeling (in Germany),” the junior said. “I’m looking forward to next year. I think it will be a lot bigger.”
CMU sophomore Jacob Hadar, from the Roaring Fork valley, won the Men’s B race and teammate Cullen Easter held the pack back and took second.
“This was unbelievable,” Hadar said. “I was thinking during the last few laps that Cullen was back there working for me. That got it for me.”
University of Denver freshman Cyrus Pearo won the Men’s C race in his hometown.
“It’s really nice to have the home field advantage even though I’m not racing for Mesa,” the Grand Junction High School graduate said.
“Being familiar with downtown, sleeping in your own bed, staying at home, eating home-cooked food is definitely an advantage. It is nice. It’s nice to just to make something happen in front of the home crowd.
“The only other (criterium) race I’ve done, we don’t have near the crowd. The setting in general makes it feel like a legitimate event.”
Former Mesa cyclist Conor Mullervy, 23, took second place in the 40-minute Men’s Pro race.
“It’s awesome,” Mullervy said. “I’m super excited. Now that we’re riding for Exergy, I didn’t know if we’d be able to come back.
“I heard they were having a crit downtown, which is what I’ve always wanted to do the past five years I was in school. This is where I wanted to race. We’ve raced in Fruita, the Speedway, everywhere but here. I wish I was racing in the collegiate race. It was awesome when we saw an opening in our schedule and come back to our old school.”
Michael Giem took first place and CMU cyclist and coach Richard Geng placed third. Mullervy’s twin brother, Kevin, was seventh.
“Kevin and I jumped out in front,” Conor said. “We figured we’d mess with some people and put a little pressure on them. The race was only 40 minutes and we’re used to an hour, hour and a half race, so if we could keep the speed high we could win it.”
Geng, 26, didn’t plan to challenge in the Pro race, but couldn’t hold back.
“It’s so much fun, you can’t go easy,” Geng said. “If you have a little bit left in your legs, you want to throw it out on the road. The people screaming at you, it’s almost like a tail wind.”
Geng is going back to Germany after he graduates from CMU in May.
“Seeing this makes me truly satisfied,” Geng said. “I’ve raced professionally and done things other people might be jealous about, but coming here is the best decision of my life. I’m leaving with such a great feeling.
“When I first came here 2½ years ago, we had a little crit in a parking lot. Now, there are thousands of people cheering for you in downtown Grand Junction. This is an accumulation and accomplishment of the last few years.”