The 2023 Iron Horse Bicycle Classic got underway on Friday at Chapman Hill with some intense short-track racing.
Not much space separated the top men throughout the race, but Toby Hassett (WE Development/FLC Cycling) led the first lap, stayed near the front the entire time and ended up winning the race.
“I felt good out there; it was a perfect course for me – short, quick punches up the hill, and full gas all of the time,” Hassett said. “Every lap there was some sort of jostling. It was pretty close the whole time.”
Riders challenging Hassett for the lead included Dane Grey (Team Durango Segment 28), Howard Grotts (Specialized Off-Road) Ivan Sippy (Team Durango Segment 28), Jack Spranger (Bear National Team) and Todd Wells (TWL), plus a handful of other riders for the first few laps.
Grey led the race for a bit, but Hassett was able to pass him on the second to last lap to regain the lead and then held on.
“On most courses I wouldn’t want to be in front the whole time, but I figured I was using less energy in front than being on a wheel,” Hassett said. “It feels super good (to win). This is my first time doing the Iron Horse after watching for years so I’m super stoked.”
Grey ended up finishing second, followed by Grotts, Sippy and Spranger in fifth.
Grotts was in the back of the pack in the first lap, but steadily passed riders and eventually finished third. Wells was in second on the early laps, but finished off the podium.
The women’s race was close early on, with Michaela Thompson (Team Durango Segment 28) Sofia Waite (Waite Endurance), Ruth Holcomb (Bear National Team) and Lauren Aggeler (Trinity Racing) battling in the front.
Thompson led after one lap and Waite took the lead on the second lap. Thompson said the two of them were kind of working together, and they pulled away from the field. On the third lap, however, Thompson was able to create a big gap. She called the separation she created “unexpected” but once she had it, she kept pushing. “With a smaller field and a shorter race, it was important to build on it,” she said.
Thompson’s consistent pace helped her win the race, even though she initially didn’t love the course.
“When I first rode it I was a little put off, but after a few laps I really liked it,” she said. “It was definitely challenging, and that made it exciting.”
Waite ended up finishing second, followed by Holcomb, Aggeler and Erin Osborne in fifth.
A good crowd was also at the event to cheer on the riders.
“It’s super fun having a local race,” Hassett said. “There were a lot of people, not a ton, but they’re all friends. It’s so awesome to race with all of your buddies cheering you on. It’s pretty rad. Durango short track is as good as it gets.
“I think it’s a really special event,” Thompson said. “I definitely always look forward to it. The Durango community is special.”