El Tour De Mesa Preview

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Streit Going After 4th Consecutive El Tour De Mesa Title

Streit rides near Humboldt Observertory  Photo Courtesy Craig P. Streit

Streit rides near Humboldt Observertory
Photo Courtesy Craig P. Streit

Craig Streit not only knows how to win the Holualoa Companies El Tour de Mesa presented by Pierson Construction , as the three-time defending champion, but he is also experienced with how to win the rides without much sleep.

After placing second in the evening competition atEl Tour Twilight Criterium in Mesa last year, Streit headed home at 11 p.m., ate a small meal, put on his compression socks to keep his legs loose and drifted off to sleep.

The alarm clock sounded less than four hours later. He was scheduled to participate in El Tour de Mesa by 5:45 a.m. with his Body By Vi p/b VeloVie team.

Streit will have the same schedule this year with El Tour Criterium scheduled the night before the El Tour de Mesa on April 5.

“Yeah, you can say I definitely have the experience to prepare for something like that again,” Streit said with a laugh. “It’s definitely a tough thing to do, but I know I’ll be ready. I love competing with my team there.”

Streit’s success in the 70-mile El Tour de Mesa is more astounding because he said he is more familiar with criterium competition.

“Each one of (his El Tour de Mesa) victories had its own challenges,” said Streit, who at 37 is going strong, racing every weekend from January through April. “I’m more of a criterium racer and do not have as much experience with long races.

“My teammates help a great deal with the longer races.”

That was the case last year when Nathan Mitchell, Rob Alvarez, Victor Riquelme and Brian Forbes played a significant part in Streit’s victory. Streit credits Forbes and Riquelme for taking turns in the last five miles attacking riders and forcing them to chase while he and Mitchell waited to make a final push.

Streit edged Mitchell in the final sprint right after Forbes and Riquelme made another challenging push, exerting opposing racers.

The team will remain intact for this year’s El Tour de Mesa, according to Streit.

Event organizer Wayne Churchman, affiliated with the event since it started in 1990, expects more than 1,500 riders to compete this year. He and about 200 riders competed in the race 24 years ago when it was called the Scottsdale-Phoenix Century.

“We expect El Tour de Mesa to grow every year,” Churchman said. “El Tour de Tucson draws about 9,000 riders on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

“When you stop to think of it, the metro Phoenix area is six times the size of Tucson. We should have an increase in riders.”

El Tour de Mesa competitors come mostly from Tucson and the Phoenix area, but Churchman said some riders from bordering states will comprise the entrants this year. He added that the event’s intrigue has become international.

“We had two guys from Egypt compete last year,” Churchman said. “They came here specifically to race in El Tour de Mesa.”

The race may not only grow in numbers but also length in the future. Churchman recalls the days when the ride (also once known as the El Tour de Phoenix) covered 100 miles. The beginning construction phases of Loop 101 15- to 20-years ago forced the ride to be reduced to 70 miles.

“It was one of the very first full century (mile) races,” Churchman said. “If we can get a few more participants, maybe more than 2,000, I’d say there is a strong possibility that we can make it a full century event again.”

Morales is a freelance writer who is based in Las Vegas.   

Posted in Tailwinds