“I’m really proud of their races”
By Than Acuff
While the Crested Butte Devo (CB Devo) high school bike team saw great success in their Division III conference races throughout the season, roster shortcomings and additional circumstances held them from defending their state title, finishing fourth at the state championships in Glenwood Springs on Saturday and Sunday, October 21–22.
It was a prolific regular season of racing for the young team of riders. CB Devo won all four of their conference races throughout the season despite having just one rider to score points for the team in the girls’ race classes.
“The fact that we won all of our conference races is an anomaly,” says coach Jenny Smith.
In addition, Finn Veit came into his first year of racing at the varsity level as a junior and won all four races to take the overall points series title, while Temple Robertson and Brie Bender finished the season in second place overall in the freshman boys and freshman girls classes.
Seven athletes rode well enough all season to qualify for the state championships with Veit, Bender and Robertson joined by senior and Legacy rider Lance Lakoski and Sam Bullock racing in the varsity class and Ethan Armbrecht and Ben Geisler lining up in the sophomore race at state.
“Of the seven that qualified, four had never raced at states before,” says Smith.
Smith was happy with their build up to state as training was positive and focused following the October Break and everyone had raced on the course before, though not everyone is a fan of the course.
“Some of them like it and some of them don’t,” says Smith. “It’s got everything in it, and it tests all of your skills as a rider. You must stay focused the entire time.”
CB Devo’s weekend of racing kicked off on Saturday with Bender lining up with 83 other riders from around the state for the girls’ freshmen race and rode her way to a 20th place finish.
“That was really good for her first state championship,” says Smith.
Robertson then took it one step further for the CB Devo team. After joining the lead pack of three riders in his freshman class race, three soon turned into two riders and then Robertson seized the opportunity to take over the lead and never looked back for the state title.
“When the opportunity came to take the lead, he took it,” says Smith. “He raced really smart. He rose to the occasion.”
The team then took the rest of the day to relax and pre-ride the course one more time before a day of racing on Sunday which opened for CB Devo with Armbrecht and Geisler rolling into the start area for the sophomore race.
Nerves and adrenaline proved troublesome for the entire field as the mass wave start of 160 riders resulted in a crash early in the race. While Armbrecht had to pick his way around the mess, Geisler got held up behind the mayhem and the two riders were in 60th and 70th place when the racers turned onto the first singletrack section. Nevertheless, both CB Devo athletes continued to battle, passing people when they could to climb through the ranks with Armbrecht finishing his first season of bike racing in 27th place at the state championships and Geisler placing 41st.
“I’m really proud of their races,” says Smith. “They still have a lot of development to do but they’re both in a really good place moving forward.”
The weekend wrapped up for CB Devo with the varsity race as Lakoski, Veit and Bullock all rolled up. Another crash near the start caused trouble for one of the CB Devo riders and Bullock got severely hung up. Meanwhile, Veit was out front in a battle with a lead group at the top of the first climb while Lakoski held onto his spot.
Lakoski remained consistent throughout all three laps, and after a high school career rife with setbacks, he closed out with a 28th place finish.
“It was a great finish for him and we’re all just really happy for him,” says Smith.
He’s not done racing either as Lakoski will be lining up for a Leadville 100 qualifier race in Texas in two weeks.
Bullock overcame the initial setback to make up some spots over the course of the race and ended his first year of racing varsity with a 64th place result.
“He has been punching above his weight class all season and this was his year to get experience,” says Smith. “He will come back with his feet firmly planted in the varsity class.”
Veit’s experience was something no one expected. Veit is just a junior but saw tremendous success throughout the year in his first year of racing varsity. While Veit was where he should be at the start in the throes of a battle in the lead pack, Smith sensed something was wrong.
“He just didn’t look like himself,” says Smith.
When the racers entered the first feed zone, Veit had to take an extended break. Once he got back on his bike, he was in last place and yet still managed to pass 57 riders to finish the day in 42nd place.
“He’s got two state titles, won four consecutive races this year and when you have that, odds are you’re going to have a bad day,” says Smith. “Unfortunately, something went wrong at state. The guts he showed to get back in there and race was pretty impressive. I’m really proud of him.”
Local kids Eli and Ty Nolan race for Colorado Rocky Mountain School and Eli finished 10th in the varsity race while Ty took 10th in the JV race.
Once team points were tallied, CB Devo finished fourth in Division III and Smith firmly believes that is the direct result of their roster situation.
“I’m quite pleased with our result and the future is really bright,” says Smith. “The reason we didn’t finish above fourth is because we only have one girl rider. We just can’t compete without more girls on the team.”