Jerry McBride/Durango Herald
The streets from Durango to Silverton belonged to Mindy Caruso this weekend.
The Albuquerque cyclist finished her sweep of the three omnium events, winning Monday’s time trial to take home the prize as the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic’s top female rider for 2012.
Caruso sped up County Road 250 (East Animas Road) in an unofficial 34 minutes, 38.06 seconds, topping runner-up Angela Des Cognets’ time of 35:35.05 by nearly a minute.
According to Iron Horse director Gaige Sippy, no pro rider ever has swept all three omnium events since the IHBC began awarding an omnium prize in 2009. The race was set to begin using omnium scoring in 2008, but the road race was snowed out.
In the moments after the race, Caruso had yet to be struck with the enormity of her accomplishment, not only as omnium champ, but completing one of the most dominant weekends in the history of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic.
“I’m not sure it’s really sunk in yet what’s happened,” she said. “I guess just the combination of it has just been an amazing experience.”
Caruso did point out that the women’s field was thinned somewhat by the Exergy Tour stage race in Idaho this weekend, but Des Cognets downplayed that notion, adding that there were plenty of capable riders in the field, pointing to collegiate road race national champion Heather Fischer, four-time IHBC road race champion Mara Abbott, cycling veteran Meredith Miller and Kasey Clark as quality cyclists Caruso outrode this weekend.
“I still think it is an amazing accomplishment because the women that are here are just phenomenal cyclists with a great depth of experience,” Des Cognets said.
The winner said the biggest battle she faced Memorial Day was the one she waged with her own body. Caruso, who admittedly prefers time trials, said the amount of energy exerted to win both Saturday’s road race and Sunday’s criterium sapped her a bit Monday.
“I think I was just battling fatigue more than anything,” Caruso said. “I was a little bit tired (Monday). ... I had trouble getting into a real groove on the course. It’s a beautiful course, and it’s fun to ride, but it’s a really hard time trial.”
Des Cognets of Golden said she was a big fan of the time trial course and the camaraderie between this particular pro women’s field, which seemed atypically affable from the early going in the road race on through the weekend.
“Everybody is just very, very nice and respectful, and I see such a great community among female cycling now,” she said.
Fischer finished in third place, charging across the line in 35:48.09 while wearing her University of Colorado kit. Next in line was Clark, who wrapped her ride in 35:51.05. Terry Moore rounded out the top five.
Fischer’s third in the road race, second in the criterium and third in the time trial placed her second in the omnium.
Caruso was gracious in victory, thanking the race officials and spectators for an enjoyable weekend, one in which her husband, Matt, also picked up a category win in the criterium and a runner-up finish in the time trial.
After a handful of misses across the omnium events over recent years, this weekend finally was Caruso’s time to shine in the Durango sun.
“I don’t know that I’ve had (that kind of weekend),” she said. “Not at this level, I haven’t had that, so that’s pretty impressive. I know a lot of the stronger pros are racing in Idaho this weekend, but it’s still something I’m really, really proud of.”