Durango’s sporting area code expands

Durango’s sporting area code is global. It’s not just (970).

It’s not (970) or (303) – remember (303)?

It’s more like an international (800) number. And it takes a global satellite to track the number and location of Durango’s multitalented sporting stars.

Like Carmen Small.

Small, the native daughter of Durango sports, phoned home this week from Padava, Italy, where she made cycling history.

The professional cyclist and former standout athlete at Durango High School used a dramatic sprint Saturday to win the prestigious 2012 Classica Citta di Padava women’s bicycle race – one of the top European racing events on the calendar.

Riding in red, white and blue for USA Cycling’s National Development Program, Small broke away just 200 meters from the finish line. She pushed her pedals ahead of runner-up Simona Frapporti of Italy to win by 3 seconds.

According to web accounts of the race in Italy, Small was part of an 11-rider break that left the peloton with a two laps to go in a nine-lap circuit race in Padava.

Small, a college volleyball player turned triathlete turned pro cyclist, broke from the group on the final lap with only Frapporti in tow.

They pedaled together until Small’s finishing sprint.

Monia Baccaille of Italy was third, leading the bigger breakaway group across the finish line some 15 seconds behind Small.

Small’s U.S. teammates included Kasey Clark of Lafayette, Robin Farina of Charlotte, N.C., Ashley James of Dousman, Wis., and Alexis Ryan of Ventura, Calif. Ryan finished 15th. Farina and James were 83rd and 91st, respectively.

Just a few days earlier, Small’s phone was ringing in the Netherlands, where she posted another series of strong results with the USA Cycling squad.

For Small, the big win in Italy will bolster her rising hopes for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Kristin McGrath, another native daughter of Durango sports, who won the Queen of the Iron Horse title last spring, is one of 13 women nominated to the U.S. Olympic long team for road biking. The final Olympic selections will be made from the nominations.

Two are from Durango: Small and McGrath.

McGrath’s telephone has been ringing of late in Southern California – San Dimas, to be exact.

McGrath, another former top DHS athlete who went on to play two college sports at Tennessee (soccer and swimming), just wrapped up the tough San Dimas Stage Race in Southern California. Riding for her pro team, Exergy Twenty12, McGrath was eighth overall in the three-stage race that was won by Olympic favorite Kristen Armstrong, a teammate of McGrath’s.

But wait – there’s more.

And they’re extending the boundaries of the Durango sports area code.

They are mountain bikers – Durango mountain bikers.

They are Todd Wells and Willow Koerber Rockwell.

Wells is a two-time member of the U.S. Olympic Team – 2004 in Athens, Greece, and 2008 in Beijing, China.

Rockwell is chasing a possible U.S. Olympic team spot less than a year after the birth of her daughter.

The pro mountain bikers have been making phone connections this week from Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, site of the first World Cup mountain bike races of the new season.

Now, what’s that number again?

dstrode@durangoherald.com