Veteran mountain bikers Overend and Juarez dominate youngsters. Marti Shea wins her seventh Mt. Washington ascent.

Pinkham Notch, N.H. – August 20, 2011

Ned Overend of Durango, Colorado, celebrated his 56th birthday today with beautiful weather, lots of exercise, a $1000 prize, and one more reminder to the cycling world that age has taken away very little of this former world champion’s strength or stamina. Less than two miles up the dizzying 7.6-mile road to the summit of the highest peak in the northeastern U.S., Overend pedaled away from his two closest pursuers. Extending his lead continuously, he won the 39th annual Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb in 55 minutes three seconds.

As if Overend’s age weren’t enough to make the point, the runnerup a minute later was Tinker Juarez of Whittier, California, himself 50 years old. Like Overend, Juarez, who clocked 56:14 for today’s ride up the Mt. Washington Auto Road, is a three-decade veteran of mountain and off-road bicycling competitions at the international level. Together, the two veterans left the 20-, 30- and 40-somethings behind them to sort out the rest of the top finishing places.

The women’s race similarly demonstrated the value of experience and stamina over youthful ambition, as 48-year-old Marti Shea, of Marblehead, Massachusetts, won her seventh bike race up Mt. Washington. Earlier this summer Shea had already won Newton’s Revenge, the other cycling race up the same road, in her personal best time for the climb, one hour four minutes 12 seconds. Today she finished in exactly the same time, more than six minutes ahead of Kristen Gohr of Reading, Mass. Gohr, 40, clocked 1:10:39.

“It’s good to win,” said Overend as he cooled off at the summit. “I wanted to win, and I wouldn’t travel this far for it if I didn’t think I had a chance. Comparing past times with the others, I figured I should be the favorite, but I’m not getting any younger!”

Overend, who won the inaugural World Mountain Biking Championship in 1990 and won the U.S. national off-road biking championship six times between 1986 and 1992, added that he tried to ride today’s race as a time trial, concentrating more on his own performance than on his position relative to others. “But I did look back to see where Tinker was. If you’re fading, a 30-second lead on Tinker is nothing.”

Following Juarez, just as he did in 2010, was Timothy Ahearn of Woodstock, Conn. “It’s pretty impressive what (Ned and Tinker) can do,” said Ahearn. “I had hallucinations of staying with Ned for two miles, but that was crazy!” Ahearn’s third-place time was 58:22.

This was Ned Overend’s first Mt. Washington victory in four attempts here. In 2005 he finished fourth, narrowly edged by two younger pros while all three trailed former Tour de France star Tyler Hamilton. He finished second behind Hamilton in 2006, and then, by just two second, behind rising pro Phil Gaimon in 2009.

Juarez took the runnerup’s place on the podium for the second time in a row, having been beaten last year only by Boulder, Colo., rider Nico Toutenhoofd. This year, while Toutenhoofd returned less well trained and finished behind several other of the top riders, Juarez beat Toutenhoofd’s 2010 time.

“I had more confidence today,” said Juarez. “I knew what to expect. When Ned pulled away, though, I knew he was going to take it. Once you get a decent gap here, it’s hard for anyone to make it up on you. I love this climb!”

Shea, who today defended the Hillclimb title she won for the first time in 2010, exhibited even more confidence. “I tell myself I will not lose here,” she said afterward. “I’m on the line, I’m ready to go. Watch it!”

Besides her two Hillclimb wins, Shea has won Newton’s Revenge in each of the five years in which it has been contested. In each race, she has ridden among the first male riders and enjoyed being able to pace herself with them. “I love riding with the guys,” she said, “because they make me feel that I can go harder.”

Excited by the win, Shea reflected on the possibility of eventually breaking the women’s course record of 58:14, set in 2000 by French cycling star Jeannie Longo. “Today I was on record pace for four miles,” she observed. “I just have to figure out how to keep it up for seven and a half!”

The men’s Mt. Washington record is beyond nearly anyone’s reach. It is 49:24, set in 2002 by Tom Danielson, who this summer was the first American finisher overall in the Tour de France.

In all, 600 riders competed in the race. Overend and Shea each won $1000 for first place. All proceeds of the Hillclimb benefit the Tin Mountain Conservation Center in Albany, N.H.

TOP FINISHERS:
Men:
1. Ned Overend, 54, Durango, Colo., 55:03
2. Tinker Juarez, 50, Whittier, Calif., 56:14
3. Timothy Ahearn, 36, Woodstock, Conn., 58:22
4. Chris Yura, 32, Philadelphia, Pa., 1:00:22 [NOTE: THIS IS NOT 1:22, BUT ONE HOUR AND 22 SECONDS]
5. Chris Hillier, 25, Etna, N.H., 1:01:30
6. Robert Douglas, 45, Honeoye Falls, N.Y., 1:01:58
7. Peter Ostroski, 22, Intervale, N.H., 1:02:09

Women:
1. Marti Shea, 48, Marblehead, Mass., 1:04:12
2. Kristen Gohr, 40, Reading, Mass., 1:10:39
3. Sari Anderson, 32, Carbondale, Colo., 1:17:20
4. Liz Feeney, 48, Philadelphia, Pa., 1:17:48
5. Dominique Codere, 52, Montreal, Quebec, 1:18:55
6. Cristine Lamoureux, 45, Montreal, Quebec, 1:22:40
7. Heather Norris, 36, Westhampton, Mass., 1:23:40

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