By Preston Yardley
The Utah Valley University cycling club raced March 29-30 at the Tour De Sol in St George, boasting one of the biggest and talented teams at the event.
Among the field of competitors were 80 people from Las Vegas, Nev., Utah, Arizona and California.
Freshman Bradly Thurgood started the team off as the first rider in the opening stage time trial. Tanner Soelberg followed by taking 12th. Soelberg became the highest general classification rider, followed by Preston Yardley and Joe Stewart in the top 30.
Later in the evening was the crit on top of the old airport bluff in St. George. Nathen Hansen was quite nervous starting the race, but flexed his guns to survive in his first crit. Nathen Curtis looked quite comfortable moving throughout the 80 riders.
Preston Yardley attacked on a lap that slingshotted Soelberg into a lead group of three. He maintained the lead for three laps until the peloton caught him. Robert Chapman, Hansen and Curtis all looked out for each other and made sure the team was accounted for before continuing on.
Each of the Wolverines made sure they were in front of the Aggies. The experience enabled the team to learn a lot, as it was the Wolverines’ first crit. Every UVU cyclist finished safe, and five members finished in front of Utah State.
The 40-mile road race was on Sunday with less than promising weather conditions. A 20 mph side wind plagued the main group of riders for the first 15 miles of the race.
Once they paced gunlock, the wind stop and the attacks started. Joe Stewart and Soelberg were in perfect position and separated with a small group of the front of the peloton. Yardley and Curtis were right behind Stewart and Soelberg’s group.
Where eagle climb started, Yardley attempted to bridge up to Stewart and Soelberg. All three of the UVU cyclists were all within the top seven heading into the biggest climb of the race.
The leading Wolverines didn’t have a single Aggie challenging them, and they had a clean shot to the finish.
Meanwhile, behind the leaders, Curtis, Thurgood and Koi all caught up with UVU alum Danny Walters. Walters helped the Wolverines slowly separate from the USU riders, allowing seven UVU riders ahead of the Aggies.
A windy, fast descent made then end of the race challenging. Soelberg got an unexpected flat front tire, which left it to Stewart and Yardley to finish the race near the front. Yardley took third, followed by Stewart in seventh.
Other riders battled through to beat USU. The Wolverines have the first five spots within their conference and are looking forward to the conference title after being beat last year by the University of Utah. If the wolverines win it would be their fourth Conference title.