A year later, it’s the same ol’ suspects atop the podium at the second brilliant edition of Conquer the Village in Traverse City.
There are very few races put on as well as Conquer the Village, and more racers took the start than ever before on what is likely the most demanding course in the state. In every race of the day, which began at 10 with the Beginners and continued into the afternoon, the climb to the top of the ridge blew up fields and decided races almost right from the gun.
The mercury’s rise also contributed to the tough day, with many racers riding in any sort of heat for the first time this season. By the time the Sport races finished up, it was well over 70 degrees and, on the climb at least, there was barely a stitch of wind. It wasn’t much of a concern for the race favorites, which included Wakeley, Justin Morris, Derek Graham, Craig Webb, and Nate St. Onge. The women’s field was packed onto the line as well, with Laura Webb making a late appearance alongside Brockmiller, the Einstein Racing duo of Beth Craven and Stacy Smith, and the indomitable Bobbie Liegl.
The Elite and Expert fields tore off together, with an early crash splitting the bunch perhaps 100 yards from the start. Wakeley, Graham, and a swarm of Experts led the way to the wall of a climb that essentially decided the podium within a few minutes of the gun. About a dozen riders made the selection on the heels of a flying Jorden Wakeley, with Ty Schmidt, Nate St. Onge and Tom White flitting up near the top of the first section to stay in touch. The group strung out over the top, and it took some serious descending to stay in contact with the leaders. Wakeley was already rolling away, with Graham giving chase, ceding just over a minute two laps in.
The chasers were riding tough, but riding alone and unable to work together, Graham and Morris began to give up ground, while some consistent riding from St. Onge kept him in sight but just out of reach of Craig Webb.
The women’s race was a closer affair, with Brockmiller in control with Craven dangling just out of touch. Brockmiller had the base in her legs and turned a 45 second gap into nearly 1:30 with a lap to go. Craven rolled in second place on the day, a brilliant showing. Brockmiller not only repeats her win of 2013, but gets back on top after playing runner up to Craven just a week ago. The pair could be swapping podium spots quite a bit this year. Behind, Laura Webb rode like a human metronome to finish third on the day, putting in consistent lap times to stave off the charge of Bobbie Liegl and Stacy Smith.