Every day on the way home from Boulder High last year, Yannick Eckmann trekked up the small hill on 9th Street past North Boulder Park.
Eckmann, who races for California Giant/Specialized, rode that same small hill to victory Sunday in the North Boulder Park Classic criterium, which looped around the park for 70 minutes.
The 19-year-old Eckmann battled with Horizon/Panache teammates Jorge Espinoza and Colby Pearce after the three broke away early and had a solid 40- to 50-second lead on the peloton for most of the race.
Eckmann, who lives a few blocks away from the park, rides parts of the course on easy or recovery days, he said.
"I know pretty well how this road feels and where to go and everything," said Eckmann, who also finished fourth at Saturday's Sunshine Hill Climb.
After lapping the peloton with three laps to go, Espinoza and Pearce were able to work with teammate Braden Bingham for the sprint finish, but couldn't hold off Eckmann. He hung behind the three teammates before launching himself on the final stretch to win.
In the lead group of three riders, Eckmann hung back and let Pearce and Espinoza do most of the work since he didn't have support from his teammates.
"I tried to play it so I'm not doing as much work so I could be more fresh for the end," Eckmann said. "The plan definitely changed for me (after the breakaway). It's like, 'OK what do you do? How do you play it so it's in your favor?"
For the last half of the race, Pearce and Espinoza tried to lose Eckmann, but he kept closing the gap. In the end, the two teammates couldn't shake him and couldn't outsprint him. Espinoza finished second, Pearce third and another Horizon/Panache teammate and University of Colorado alum, Josh Yeaton, finished fourth.
"(Eckmann) was just really strong and a faster sprinter than all of us," Espinoza said.
In the women's pro race, Boulder cyclist Julie Emmerman took a chance breaking away from the peloton on her own with a few laps to go.
That risk paid off as Emmerman (Rally Sport Cycling) held on to win the women's pro race ahead of Cari Higgins (Exergy Twenty16) and Kimberley Turner (Naked Women's Racing).
Emmerman, who also took second at Saturday's Sunshine Hill Climb, said she hadn't planned on taking off on her own before the race. The best case scenario was that she won, and the worse case scenario was that she got a good workout in, she said.
"I thought the best chances I have are going to be in the breakaway," said Emmerman, who owns a clinical psychology practice in Boulder. "If I keep attacking, attacking, attacking, the other girls will get tired and I'll have more sustainability, so that's kind of worked out but I didn't know it would be that way."
Second-place finisher and Boulder cyclist Higgins rushed to the criterium after three days of competing at the MN Fixed Gear Classic in Minneapolis. She raced on the track Thursday, Friday and Saturday, winning the endurance omnium title, and flew back to Boulder at 6 a.m. Sunday to make the North Boulder Park Classic, she said.
"But I wouldn't miss this race for anything," Higgins said of her hectic weekend. "I love this race. Results are a bonus, but it's just more fun to race seven blocks from my house and on such a classic course."
1. Yannick Eckmann, 1:09.04; 2. Jorge Espinoza, same time; 3. Colby Pearce, same time; 4. Josh Yeaton, 1:10.01; 5. Frank Pipp, same time; 6. Erik Hamilton, same time; 7. Brent Hanlin, same time; 8. Ian Holt, same time; 9. Robin Eckmann, same time; 10. Michael Dessau, same time,
1. Julie Emmerman, 51:13; 2. Cari Higgins, same time; 3. Kimberley Turner, 51:16; 4. Anne Donley, same time; 5. Flora Duffy, same time; 6. Nicole Duke, same time; 7. Therese Johnson, same time; 8. Kate Powlison, same time; 9. Margell Abel, same time; 10. Heather McWilliams Mierzejewski, same time.