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Winning at 51 never looked so good

TMG Hill Climb PU 6-3-07
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VAIL ” It’s hard to say what made Ned Overend happier ” beating the field or beating his own time.

Overend, 51, won the Hill Climb up Vail Pass at the Teva Mountain Games Sunday, clocking in at 27 minutes, 29 seconds.

“I beat last year by (29) seconds. When you are 51, and you are faster than you were the year before, that’s all you can ask for,” Overend said.



Would Overend have been happy, though, if he beat his own time and lost?

“Winning is what counts,” he said.



Overend’s time Sunday was less than a minute under the record set by Andy Hampsten during the 1987 Coors Classic.

Michael Carter, 44, was second at 28:35, followed by Josiah Middaugh, 28, at 28:54.

“It felt really good to be on the podium, but when the 51-year old came up, it’s good to know you’ve got some years,” Middaugh said.



Overend, who also competed in the mountain bike race Saturday, thought having the right gear helped him Sunday.

“There were a lot of guys out there, like Michael Carter ” he’s capable of doing well on a climb like that, but he didn’t have time-trial (handle) bars, and I think time trial bars are important. Guys may think it’s a 9-mile hill climb, but it’s very fast. There are 35 mph sections, and even higher up, there are 25 mph sections,” Overend said.

With many races on Vail Pass under his belt, Overend knew how to attack it.

“You’ve gotta pace yourself,” Overend said. “You can go too hard in the flats, and then the hardest part is at the end. Not only are you tired, but that’s the steepest part.

So I make sure when I’m hammering the flats, I keep a good rhythm ” you don’t want to get bogged down in a gear, you want to turn over a faster gear, so it’s easier to recover.”

Overend also makes sure to get proper recover after races.

“I race less now, which is important,” he said. “I don’t race as much as these other guys. I’ve been able to focus on certain races.”

Pua Sawick won the women’s race in 38:27, followed by Jenny Smith (38:35) and Chloe Forsman (39:18).

Tour de France winner Floyd Landis was eighth in the men’s field. Landis declined to be interviewed.

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.


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