Mikalya Harvey of New Zealand broke away from the lead group at the base of the climb and later pulled away with two miles to go to take the women’s pro cat 1/2 title. The 18-year-old Harvey has been successful on junior circuit, but this is her first win in the pro category and also her first race on American soil.
“This was a pretty tough race,” she said. “Before the last climb, I just sat on the main bunch and drafted. As soon as we got to the climb, the pace picked up quick. It was me and another girl from Columbia. … About halfway up the climb, I managed to break her, then I was by myself the rest of the way.”
Harvey is from the South Island of New Zealand in a place called Wanaka, where she does climbs close to the steepness of Roan Mountain on the nearby Crown Range. She says that some of the climbs can range from 40 minutes all the way up to an hour and a half, so she was well-prepared for the haul up Roan Mountain.
On the men’s pro cat 1/2, Belarus native Andrei Krasilnikau took the crown in a sprint to the finish around the last curve over last year’s runner-up Winston David. As the men were rounding the last turn, a school bus went under the finishing banner and managed to pull it down, breaking the supporting PVC piping holding up the banner. Luckily, the race staffed reacted quickly enough to make sure the cyclists had a banner to go under.
“I trained in the Swiss Alps for two and a half years doing climbs like this. There’s not a lot of climbs like this in Belarus. Belarus is pretty flat,” said Krasilnikau. “I’m more of a time trial kind of rider. There are so many different areas, but I am a good climber, too… It was a beautiful day up here. Not very humid or windy.”
The brutal climb of over 2,400 feet in the final four miles of the course was not enough to scare off more than 250 brave riders that registered for the race. The Johnson City Omnium continues today with the Franklin Woods Community Hospital Criterium in downtown Johnson City, beginning at 8 a.m., and the pro cat 1/2 going off at 3 p.m.