Saturday’s El Tour de Tucson 109-mile women’s winner Alex Wrubleski was so good, the first results marked her “M” for male because of her 37th overall place.
That’s fine with the resident of Regina, Saskatchewan. She made a point Saturday to mingle with the guys.
“I just wanted to stay with the leading (peloton), sit in with them” she said. “I knew how fast they would be and if I could (survive) the attacks, I would be OK. It was good experience, a good training run.”
Wrubleski finished in 4 hours, 19 minutes, 3:44 behind winner Micheal Grabinger. She defeated two-time defending champion Suzanne Sonye of Boulder, Colo., by 23:11, the huge gap no doubt partly due to Sonye’s late training for El Tour. Sonye won last year in 4:22:30.
“There were a couple of girls that started with me near the front, but after that I didn’t see anyone,” Wrubleski said. “People were telling me I was in the lead.”
Wrubleski, who will race for a pro team in the United States in 2007, converted to cycling from speed skating. “Cycling was used for cross-training,” she said. “I started getting into a few races and started getting into it.”
She’s a fan of El Tour after her debut. “I’ve never seen anything like this before,” she said.
Grabinger is still thrilled about his El Tour win.
Last year he was happy finishing fourth in the Tempe SOMA half-ironman, but ahead of him were three world class triathletes, including Tim DeBoom, a two-time Hawaii Ironman champion.
“There was such a gap between these guys and me, and I didn’t think I had that many years to try to catch up,” said the 29-year-old. “I realized cycling was what I love.”
Catching up to road cycling elites took about one week of training. Grabinger went to Flagstaff in August from South Dakota and won the state championship time trial and road race titles.
He picked up triathlon during his stint in the Army in Germany. “Cycling and triathlon are huge over there, and I had to run anyway in the Army,” he said. “I figured I had two of three (cycling and running), so I might as well jump in the pool and learn to swim.”
Californians take tandem
Chris DiMarchi of Chino, Calif., and Gilbert Correa of La Verne, Calif., were the tandem winners in the 109 after overcoming Tucsonan Evan Unger and Mike Cubison of Boulder, Colo. They won in 4:16:35 to the latter’s 4:19:09.
The third tandem was Marty Sheehan and John Niedart of St. George, Utah (4:22:38), followed by mixed tandem champions Tyler Ford and Mimi Ford of Tucson (4:33:24) and Mark Norton and Sherri Norton of Fullerton, Calif. (4:41:50).
Gunn, Vaughan in top 10
Defending champion Curtis Gunn surged to claim a sixth-place finish in 4:16:29, almost five minutes slower than his winning time of 2005 (4:31:23).
Gunn, noticeably limping before the race, badly strained and bruised his shoulder and left knee in a fall in a New Zealand stage race 10 days ago.
Tucsonan Denny Vaughan, the 2006 masters division 40-44 age group national champion and a veteran top 20 El Tour finisher, was ninth in 4:19:04. It was Vaughan’s third top-10 finish and his best time in the 109-mile segment.
Other locals in the top 25 were Scott Leonard of Vail (14th, 4:19:06), Garrett Ford of Tucson (19th, 4:19:07), Kurt Garbe of Tucson, (22nd, 4:19:07), Scott Blanchard of Tucson (23rd, 4:19:07) and Peter J. Brown of Tucson (24th, 4:19:07)).
Tucson’s Candice Blickem was the highest local finisher in the women’s division at 14th in 4:52:47.
Debby Price of Oro Valley was 16th in 5:02:44.