Local boy makes good in Tour of Lawrence

photo by: Nick Krug

First place finisher Joseph Schmalz cruises past a line of spectators as he comes to the finish of the Men's Pro race of the Tour of Lawrence Haskell Campus Criterium at Haskell Indian Nations University on Saturday, July 16, 2016.

When fellow cyclists saw Joseph Schmalz riding in the pack in Saturday’s Meadowbrook Apartments Haskell Campus Race, they knew he was waiting for the right moment to strike.

No stranger to the Tour of Lawrence’s campus races, Schmalz pulled away from the field alongside Garrick Valverde — both Lawrence natives — with about four laps left in the 75-minute race.

Halfway through the final lap, Schmalz found an extra gear, essentially turned his bike into a Ferrari, and cruised to a 25-second victory in the men’s pro race, his fourth win in the eighth-annual event.

“It was kind of the general plan to wait and be patient, and then the last five laps, really start racing hard,” Schmalz said.

Valverde, who was runner-up in Friday’s Street Sprints, was all too familiar with Schmalz’s strategy throughout the race. The two Free State High graduates — one year apart — have raced alongside and against each other since they were 11 and 12 years old.

“In racing, if you open up more than three feet, you’re essentially riding by yourself and there’s no blocking,” Valverde said. “It was everything to stay within a foot to his wheel. He’s so strong that it was really during the tight turns in the back of the course where a big enough gap opened and that was all it was.”

The race, which weaved around Haskell Indian Nation University’s campus, was a 2.2-mile circuit with 14 turns. It moved from Kansas University’s campus two years ago, and presents its own set of challenges for cyclists despite less hills.

Several riders exchanged leads in the opening dozen laps before Schmalz and Valverde began separating themselves from the rest of the pack.

“It creates a big slinky effect along with the narrow roads here on the Haskell campus,” Schmalz said of the turns. “It makes it to where it’s a positioning battle. You have to be at the front and that’s what makes the race hard.”

It wasn’t lost on Schmalz, 26, that he was all alone against Valverde in the final laps — one of his former teammates for several years.

“I don’t get to race locally much at all,” Schmalz said. “This is usually one of my only road races I do locally all year because I’m traveling so much. It’s always good fun to come back and race. Getting to break away with one of my good friends is always good.”

Valverde added: “There’s a good buddy system there. There were some favors thrown around.”

Right before Schmalz’s victory, Jennifer Sharp, of Boulder, Colo., won the women’s pro race, edging a pack of cyclists with a big sprint after making the last turn.

Sharp, who is competing in the Tour of Lawrence for the first time, made the eight-hour drive on Friday with her husband. She said she was drawn to the Tour of Lawrence because of its strong reputation.

In the large group, Sharp biked behind the leader for drafting purposes until she made a move in the final turn. Sharp said she visualized the last lap and it played out exactly the way she had imagined.

The Tour of Lawrence concludes today with the Free State Brewery Downtown Criterium Races, which runs through Massachusetts Street. The pro races are expected to begin around 12:40 p.m.

2016 Tour of Lawrence

Meadowbrook Apartments Haskell Campus Races

Men’s Masters 40+: 1. Wamey Crosby; 2. Micah Newell; 3. Christopher Johnson; 4. Benjamin Sharp; 5. Aaron Wrabek; 6. Michael Catterall; 7. Jay Hawkins; 8. Joe Engel; 9. Seth Mincks; 10. Jason Rew.

Men’s Masters 50+: 1. Jay Hawkins; 2. Joe Engel; 3. Kris Tilford; 4. Stephen Songer; 5. Greg Vaught; 6. Allyn Smith; 7. Rick Lueckert.

Men’s Masters 60+: 1. Savee Keomany; 2. Harold Parker; 3. Andy Brown; 4. John Wentling; 5. D. Douglas Long; 6. Jay Raupp; 7. Randy Kidder; 8. Samuel Perkins; 9. Reg Robertson.

Junior’s 15-18 Men: 1. Pierce Saturday.

Women’s Cat 4: 1. Lori McCarty; 2. Meghan Comiskey; 3. Courtney Coppinger; 4. Michelle Moore; 5. Lisa Demarni Cromer; 6. Severine Tournadre; 7. Casandra Dickerson; 8. Elizabeth Hablinski; 9. Stacy Jacobs; 10. Sarah Kramer.

Women’s Masters 40+: 1. Laurel Ledbetter; 2. Cynthia Bracker; 3. Renae Weaver; 4. Jana Strait; 5. MK Thompson; 6. Kathryn Johnson.

Junior Men 9-14: 1. Nigel Vaught; 2. Peter Whalen; 3. Evan Coles; 4. Seth Wisdom; 5. Fineas Howser; 6. Jordan Scroggins; 7. Gabriel Schmitz.

Junior Women 9-14: 1. Delaney McPherson; 2. Carolina Navarro; 3. Sydney Franklin; 4. Michaela Neely; 5. Liliana Navarro.

Men’s Category 5: 1. John Newman; 2. Chris Plooster; 3. Tim Pickens; 4. Nigel Vaught; 5. Corey Lies; 6. William Briggs; 7. Daniel Robertson; 8. Mike Ivanic; 9. Darrin Teeter; 10. Stephen Whalen.

Men’s Category 4: 1. James Fox; 2. Pete Majors; 3. Kyle Sabatini; 4. Will Peterson; 5. Joshua Stevens; 6. Aaron Siebert; 7. Aaron Hansen; 8. Vince Hess; 9. Thomas Lewin; 10. Bryce Fulton.

Men’s Category 3: 1. Braxton Mundell; 2. Andrew Farmer; 3. Michael Garven; 4. Mark Smelser; 5. Matt Ledbetter; 6. Keith Guilford; 7. Ian Seibert; 8. Ross Given; 9. Caleb Smith; 10. Seth Likens.

Women’s Pro: 1. Jennifer Sharp; 2. Leah Kleager; 3. Rachel Plessing; 4. Laurel Ledbetter; 5. Nancy Karrer; 6. Catherine Walberg; 7. Ariel Wyant; 8. Lynn Wilson; 9. Marianne Melling; 10. Cynthia Bracker.

Men’s Pro: 1. Joseph Schmalz; 2. Garrick Valverde; 3. Nicholas Torraca; 4. Clayton Stone; 5. Skyler Mackey; 6. Connor Brown; 7. Shadd Smith; 8. Alex Hoehn; 9. John Purvis; 10. Benjamin Sharp.