Joshua Johnson pulled ahead in the final lap to claim the title in the Men’s Pro division of the Quad-Cities Criterium as race participants and spectators celebrated the event’s 50th anniversary Monday.
The 22-year-old from Fort Wayne, Ind., said the competition was fierce in his third year participating in the 35-mile road race that winds through the Village of East Davenport.
“It’s always a good field, but a lot of fast guys came out this year,” Johnson said.
Among the “fast guys” were Grant Erhard of St. Louis, who Johnson trailed by a large gap most of the race.
Johnson led a small pack including Micah Engle and David Goodman that ultimately broke away from the other racers to close the gap and overtake Erhard in the race’s final moments.
Engle, of Dillsburg, Penn., came in second while Goodman, of Suwanee, Ga., finished third.
The hardest part of the race for Engle was the “intensity of the hill,” he said.
“This is definitely a top notch race,” Engle said.
Racers start on 11th Street in the Village of East Davenport, climb the Glenwood Avenue hill, speed back down 12th Street and round the sharp corners of Mound Street.
Racers cycle 40 laps around the course – a distance of about 35 miles, race director Tom Schuler said.
“This is the highest level of racing in the United States,” Schuler said.
The Men’s Pro race lasted 75 minutes; the women’s race lasted 40 minutes.
Rosemary Penta, 36, of Louisville, Ky., won the title in the Women’s Pro division. She held off runner-up Vanessa Curtis, of Iowa City, to take top honors.
“It’s an awesome way to cap off the weekend,” she said.
Many riders put in intense training in the time leading up to an event like the Quad-Cities Criterium. Curtis said she trains six or seven days a week and puts in about 200 to 300 miles a week.
“I definitely put a lot of time into this, but I love it,” Penta said.
Schuler said it is not uncommon for serious competitors to ride tens of thousands of miles a year. A former Giro d’Italia participant, Schuler said he rode 20,000 miles in one year.
“That’s as much as people drive their cars,” Schuler said. “It’s what you got to do to compete at this level.”