An hour into the Men's Pro race at the 51st Nevada City Classic, there were six cyclists gathered in the lead pack.
The lead changed with each successive lap, and none of the riders seemed to be able to break away from the group.
Ten minutes later, Ian Boswell made the turn at the top of Broad Street and sped down the long hill.
He was all alone.
It would take several seconds, enough time for Boswell to reach the other turn at the bottom of the course, before the rest of the pack made it to the top of Commercial Street and headed back down the other side.
By then, the race belonged to the 20-year-old cyclist out of Bend, Ore.
"There are a lot of strong guys out here," said Boswell. "I was just trying to keep it smooth through the whole course."
The smooth approach turned out to be key, as other riders fell off throughout the race, having expended too much of their energy in the early laps.
It took 30 minutes for the herd to thin and for the leaders to begin pulling away. After a half hour, only 15 riders were left with a shot at winning the race, barring some unforeseen disaster.
However, 30 minutes and one lap later, one cyclist distinguished himself - Evan Huffman. As a group of 14 stayed tightly packed behind, Huffman tore down the street with the kind of ferocity that makes people stand up and pay attention.
"This is a big race," said Huffman. "And I was feeling good today."
He led by a half of a lap for the next half hour, but it was a pace that he could not keep up.
As his energy waned, he fell back into the group of six leaders, leaving the door open for his competitors to ride through. Boswell took that challenge and left everyone else, including Huffman and third-place finisher Nate English, on the other side.
"It quickly became a race for second place," said Huffman. "That was kind of a bummer."
When Boswell crossed the finish line in first place, he became the first man in 30 years to accomplish that feat in consecutive years.
The last person to do it was Greg LeMond, who won three times in a row from 1979 to 1981. Five years later, he earned the first of three Tour de France victories in his career.
Asked about his own Tour de France aspirations, Boswell was reserved in his thinking.
"That's a long way away," he said. "If I get there someday - awesome. For now, if I race in Nevada City for the next 20 years, that's fine."
Judging from the boisterous cheers that erupted from the crowd, it seems that it would be just fine with the people of Nevada City if he kept coming back.
Though the first-place podium lifted him just two or three feet above the ground, it was clear that for this day, Boswell stood tall as the king of Broad Street.
To contact Sports Writer Anthony Barstow, e-mail email@example.com or call (530) 477-4243.
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