Lucky thing two of the new Florida State Road Championship jerseys were Carl Sundquist's size. The Florida Olympic cyclist was awarded two of them the weekend of Sept. 26-27: one for winning the Master 30-34 road race at the Ferndale course northwest of Orlando, and one for winning the Senior 1,2,3 event.
The last time bay area cyclists saw Sundquist, he was checking out of Olympic headquarters at the Tampa Hilton, headed for Barcelona, where he placed 12th in his 4,000-meter track race. He competed on the track in Colombia, getting altitude training that obviously left him road-racing-fit.
Three seniors broke away from the field at Ferndale, staying away for most of the 88-mile race that included 10 climbs up Sugarloaf Hill. Sundquist, 30, of Pembroke Pines rode in the middle of the pack, joking and smiling for photographers. Alongside him were BBC riders Gary Larzobal, Dave Stedje and Brian Eldridge, all from Tampa.
Bridging up to the lead riders by following others who started to roll away, Sundquist attacked remaining challengers on the hill, making use of his speedy Zipp 3000 tri-spoke wheels. Officials clocked him at 50 mph. Riding in alone, he finished with a crowd-pleaser _ he put his stomach on his seat, legs stretched out behind him.
Carrollwood's Brian Eldridge finished in eighth place, with BBC teammate Larzobal finishing 13th, a minute behind.
Women's racing saw Bradenton pro triathlete Mary Cook force the pace up Sugarloaf on the first lap, presumably as part of her Hawaii Ironman training program. Mary Higgins of Ocala, a veteran of European women's racing, including the Tour de France Feminin (women's tour), was the only rider who could climb at Cook's pace.
Content to let Cook lead each lap, the more tactically experienced Higgins was just biding her time until the final climb up Sugarloaf, where she rode away from her breakaway partner. Higgins finished alone, several minutes ahead, with Cook coming in second and Debbie Vanderlaan third.
Top bay area women were Tampa's Kim Morrow in fourth place, Bradenton's Kathy Oates in fifth and Tampa's Robin Thomas in seventh.
Clearwater triathlete Mike Sandford added another page to his cycling success story when he rode away from the Category 4-5 field to win by at least 5 minutes. Sandford, who rides for Chainwheel Drive, began riding more this season because of a heel-spur injury caused by running. Tampa's Mark Stewart, a USF student, placed fifth.
Junior action featured Pasco County's Deric Wilkerson, riding for Chain Gang, breaking away to win. Tampa's Nathan Rogut outsprinted Miami's Carlos Rice for second in what race officials called the most exciting sprint finish of the weekend. Flying through the last corner, the two juniors went head-to-head for the last kilometer, with Rogut edging the former junior national champion. Rice placed fourth at this year's junior national championships at the Major Taylor Velodrome in Indianapolis.
Representing Suncoast Road Club was John Capel of Seminole, who placed third in the juniors race. SRC's Brett Andringa of St. Petersburg placed second in the Category 4 road race and fourth in Sunday's junior race.
Horse Farm Hundred: The 12th Annual Horse Farm Hundred will be Sunday in Gainesville. Two rides through the rolling horse farm country are offered by the Gainesville Cycling Club _ a 50-miler and a 100-miler. For tour information, call (904) 377-1728.
Conchman Triathlon: The Sixth Annual Grand Bahama Conchman Triathlon at Taino Beach, Grand Bahama, is Oct. 24. Race distance is 1K swim, 25K bike, and 5K run. For race information, call 1-800-448-3386 or (407) 898-2425.
Westcoast Criterium: Team Del Monte and the Suncoast Road Club will host the Westcoast Criterium in St. Petersburg on Nov. 8. Categories include juniors, masters, women, and seniors. For race information, call (813) 328-1628 or (813) 867-0413.