TRAVERSE CITY — A three-time Olympian and 15-time world champion cyclist added a third Iceman Cometh championship to his name Saturday.
Geoff Kabush backed up an Iceman title in 2017 with a second straight win in 2018, this time besting Alexey Vermeulen by nearly 12 seconds at the Timber Ridge Resort. Kabush finished in 1:31:46.9, which is nearly five minutes faster than his time last year, while Vermeulen came in at 1:31:58.4.
“This was some good fun. It’s one I look forward to every year,” Kabush said. “I was just patient all day and took an opportunity to sneak away from Alexey. I knew if we just rolled it toward the finish then we’d have a good chance to stay away.”
The 41-year-old Kabush and 23-year-old Vermeulen were neck and neck throughout the race and were separated by less than a second with 20 kilometers to go. Kasbush, who was using a drop-bar mountain bike for the first time, said the conditions were perfect and that gave him an opportunity to pull away with 10 kilometers left in the race. Kabush led by three seconds coming into the campground and used the winding turns and final hill to put some space between himself and Vermeulen.
“Alexey was really strong,” Kabush said. “Just coming into the campground there’s a steep hill and I was able to get a small gap. I wanted to lead coming into the campground, and I knew if I got to the front I felt like I had enough horsepower to finish it off and get to the line.”
Vermeulen said the heart-pumping and leg-draining climb at Anita’s Hill is when he and Kabush distanced themselves from the pack.
“Once I was in that group with Geoff, I knew it was going to be difficult. He’s got a lot of experience on me and he won last year,” Vermeulen said. “He was riding a bike that can be really, really quick going up these final climbs.”
The Pinckney resident said he was happy to finish second a year after placing ninth, but admitted that there was still some disappointment.
“You always want to take the win when you’re in that position,” Vermeulen said. “I’ve always been a roadie, so I’ve focused a lot on trying to make something of it this year. I just did what I could, and I’m happy with the podium.”
Brian Matter (1:32:13.8), Peter Disera (1:32:14) and Ben Sonntag (1:32:18) rounded out the top five, respectively.