Classic memories: Nevada City’s annual cycling race steeped in history (VIDEO)
The Nevada City Classic bicycle race has been around for longer than all but one other criterium race in the United States.
Since 1961, when Charlie Allert organized the race, the Classic has built a rich and storied history and featured some of the best riders in the world. So with the 59th installation of the Classic set to take place Sunday, we take a look back at some of the moments and riders that have helped shape the highly regarded race.
Greg LeMond was the first and only American rider to win the Tour de France, and he did it three times (1986, 1989, 1990), but before that he was a three-time Nevada City Classic winner (1979-1981). LeMond dominated the Nevada City Classic three times, including his first win, at the age of 17, when he won the Junior Race on Saturday and returned on Sunday to win the senior race, lapping the field in the process.
After Bob Tetzlaff won the first two Nevada City Classics, Bob Parsons burst on to the scene and won the race five years in a row (1963-1967) — a feat that has been yet to be matched, consecutively or otherwise. Parsons would have his streak snapped in 1968 by Dave Brink. Parsons finished fifth that year.
The Moninger Dynasty
Scott Moninger never won back-to-back Nevada City Classics; rather, he spread his four wins (second most all-time) out across a span of 12 years (1994, 1997, 1999, 2006).
“He was the premiere American racer at the time and he was the epitome of a Nevada City Classic winner,” said Duane Strawser, who has raced in the Classic and been the race organizer since 2001. “He dominated this course.”
Ron Miller’s fateful final lap
The Nevada City Classic has never had a local winner in the Men’s Pro race. Several locals have come close, but none closer than Ron Miller, and none with such heartbreak.
Miller had the race all wrapped up with a decent lead on the final lap, but crashed going into a turn and was unable to recover before being passed.
“He had the race won,” said Strawser. “He came down 30 seconds ahead of everybody else and crashed in the final turn and got passed. We’ve had locals hovering in the 20s, but Ron was the closest local by far.”
Nash by a nose
One of the tightest finishes in Nevada City Classic history came in the Womens Pro race in 2012, when Katerina Nash eked out the victory over Flavia Oliveira by an inch.
“We had all the best finish line camera technology and it was 45 minutes of the officials looking at all the angles and it came down to Nash winning by an inch,” said Strawser. “To the best of our recorded history that was the fastest and tightest womens’ race we’ve ever had. Our radar gun had them at 54 mph. Two women an inch apart at the finish line. That is as good and amazing as it gets.”
It was Nash’s third straight win in the women’s race, but was by far the closest.
Lance Armstrong had competed in the Nevada City Classic once before, but when he came in 2009 he caused quite a commotion. Strawser estimates that 30,000 spectators came to see Armstrong win his only Nevada City Classic title.
“The energy was off the charts,” said Strawser. “That was a special day despite what has happened since.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was originally published June 2016.
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