Keogh steals Cirque with bike throw
PORTLAND — Quinn Keogh’s never-say-die attitude got put through its paces Saturday night at the Cirque du Cycling criterium in North Portland. But it eventually paid big dividends as the Rubicon-Orbea rider won the race from a small break group.
Keogh hopped into the winning breakaway after crashing hard on the unique eight-corner course, then fought for the win all the way to the line even though it looked like Gentle Lovers’ Sam Nicoletti had the race sewn up. Nicoletti’s premature celebration opened the door for Keogh to sneak past by less than a tire width to win in a photo finish.
The pair joined Donald Reeb (HPChiro/Scott’s Bicycles) and Austin Arguello (Team Exergy) off the front during the last half of the race and quickly started building a gap that grew to more than 30 seconds by the finish. Nicoletti appeared to have the advantage as the quartet barreled over the slightly downhill closing straightaway. But when he threw his arms up for a traditional salute about 10 feet from the line, Keogh kept pushing and made up the margin — and just a little bit more — with a bike throw .
Nicoletti, the reigning OBRA Criterium Champion, explained his costly over enthusiasm in the finale. “Everyone always asked me why I never threw my arms up,” he said. “I was going to do it this time.”
Although Nicoletti’s poor timing opened the door for the win, Keogh’s all-day effort probably propelled the lead quartet into position to win in the first place. But before he could do that he had to endure a crowd-induced crash on the northern end of the course.
“There was a spectator who was tossing water,” Keogh said. “We were coming through once and I think she lost the cup or bottle she was tossing from. It went into somebody’s bike and they stopped it up. I was on my front wheel long enough to remember it distinctly, and then I tumbled over somebody’s bike.” …
After taking a free lap and getting pushed back in at the rear of the bunch, Keogh moved back to the front and countered off a move by teammate Aaron Tuckerman, Gentle Lovers’ Steven Beardsley (also taken down later in a crash) and several others.
“I just kept on it for a couple laps really hard,” Keogh said. “Guys kind of fell off and came up, and I just kept sitting up there and holding a high pace until some guys came up who would roll through. We started working together well, got a good gap and held it at about 30 seconds for the last 15 laps.”
Crashes in the field also slowed the chase and added to the leaders’ advantage. Then as the 60-minute event began winding down, Keogh said, riders in the breakaway started thinking about what it would take to win.
“Sam Nicoletti didn’t need to work too hard, so he was pulling a little soft,” Keogh said. “Austin Arguello was pulling a little soft. I think he just wanted to make sure he saved some legs. Reeb and I were both pulling really hard.”
Keogh said the more obvious cat-and-moue games started playing out several corners from the finish before Nicoletti finally jumped before the last corner.
“Sam was the first to go,” Keogh said. “Austin got on his wheel. Sam held it, but I took Sam in the throw at the finish.”
It wasn’t quite that matter-of-fact for those watching, but after a look at the photo finish, officials gave the win to Keogh.
In the 45-minute Cat 3 race that started an hour before the Pro/1/2 event, LifeCycle Bike Shop’s Scott Hill outsprinted Ironclad Performance Wear riders Jeff Harwood and Andrew Willis and the rest of the bunched field for the win.
Cirque du Cycling Criterium
Saturday, June 12
1. Quinn Keogh (Rubicon-Orbea)
2. Sam Nicoletti (Gentle Lovers)
3. Austin Arguello (Team Exergy)
4. Donald Reeb (HP Chiro/Scott’s Bicycles)
5. Pete Groblewski (Gentle Lovers)
1. Scott Hill (LifeCycle Bike Shop)
2. Jeff Harwood (Ironclad Performance Wear)
3. Andrew Willis (Ironclad Performance Wear)
4. Steven Hunter (Portland Bicycle Studio)
5. Clint Culpepper (Team Beer)