Winter Park’s Alison Powers pedals to the top of the pack
August 11, 2008
Alison Powers, Winter Park’s skier-turned-bicycle racer, has just won her first national championship title.
The 29-year-old Powers won a gold medal while racing in the elite women’s time trial Wednesday, Aug. 6, during the 2008 USA Cycling Junior, U23 and Elite Road National Championship in Orange County, Calif.
Powers’ victory came against a field of 33 of the nation’s best female cyclists. She outpaced the entire field, finishing the 33-kilometer course in a time of 49:18.90.
The win by Powers in the elite division of USA Cycling’s national championships came as a surprise to many. Most of the experts had picked Mara Abbott of Team Columbia as the favorite because she was last year’s U23 national time trial champion.
But in Wednesday’s race, Powers whipped her soundly by 1 minute, 39 seconds with Abbott finishing in a time of 50:50.00. Third place went to U.S. National Team’s Chrissy Ruiter of Bend, Ore., with a time of 51:05.50.
While her victory in the national time trial may have surprised some, Powers told interviewers after the race that it had been her main goal for the past seven months.
Powers explained that she had set sights on winning the national title last January after she learned that the national championships were going to be held at the same time as the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China. She knew that Kristin Armstrong, Amber Neben and Christine Thorburn, who had won the top three spots of the national time trial podium last year, would be part of the U.S. Olympic Team.
While growing up in Grand County, Powers had centered all of her athletic ambitions on alpine ski racing. Selected by the U.S. Ski Team in 1997, she began a ski racing career after graduating Middle Park High in 1998. However, a 2001 ski racing accident injured her knee and she called it quits in 2004.
Believing her competitive days were over, Powers became a ski coach in Vermont but decided to stay in shape by bicycling. On a whim in the spring of 2005, she entered her first cycling road race as a novice, but to her surprise discovered she had a real talent for the sport. She was soon winning races and advancing up the racing categories.
Moving back to Colorado in late 2005, Powers continued to improve her results and joined a Boulder-based amateur cycling team. With the team’s sponsorship, she broke into the elite level of women’s bicycle racing and ended the 2006 racing season ranked fifth in the nation.
Thanks to those results, Powers signed a contract with Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light, which is a professional bicycle racing team headquartered in Madison, Wisc.
In her first year as a professional cyclist on the Colavita/Sutter Home team, Powers finished the 2007 racing season ranked 103rd in the world. Some of her top results included winning a gold medal in the Pan American Championships’ time trial in Venezuela, taking third place in the Memorial Davide Fardelli Time Trial in Italy and an overall seventh-place finish at Le Grand Tour du Montreal.
Powers’ 2007 results were so spectacular that she was selected to train and race with the U.S. National Team in Europe this spring. She was also picked for a “discretionary nomination” to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Cycling Long Team.
Beginning her second year as a pro cyclist, she traveled extensively this past spring in Europe as a member of the U.S. National Cycling Team. During France’s 2008 Tour de l’Aude Cycliste Feminin in May, she took second- and third-place finishes during that nine-day stage race which featured many of the top women riders in the world, including several Olympic and World Champions.
Returning home to America in June, Powers rejoined her Colavita/Sutter Home teammates to race in the 2008 Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling, which is one of this nation’s premier bicycling series held in Pennsylvania. During two of its three races, she earned third- and fourth-place finishes against a field of some of the world’s elite women cyclists.
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