New Zealanders like these hills

Lisa Savage may feel more comfortable on a mountain bicycle, but on Sunday morning, she seemed to be right in her element riding on the roads through Diamond Valley.

Savage, 31, from Nelson, N.Z., emerged from a pack of seven riders in a sprint to the finish to win the womenOs Category 1 race at the Diamond Valley Road Race, the final day of the Carson Valley Classic.

Savage finished second Saturday at the Minden Criterium. That was the first criterium she had ridden in, but the 38-mile road race was a different story. After all, she is spending the summer in the U.S. along with four other riders from New Zealand to prepare for the World Mountain Bike Championships in Vail, Colo., on Sept. 8-16.

"I felt really good today," Snyder said. "There were some strong women out there today, and I loved the experience. The group was very organized, which was great because that helps everyone."

Kim Vandersyde finished second, Erin Kassoy third and Eryn Hanna of the Alta Alpina Cycling Club was fourth. Fourteen-year-old Amber Ramos of South Lake Tahoe was sixth.

Savage even felt at home a little bit on a windy day.

"The conditions today were kind of like back home. It gets windy back home, so I'm used to it," Snyder said.

John Hunt, coming off a victory in the criterium, was even more impressive in Sunday's race as he basically rode solo over the last two laps and won the race by some two minutes.

Perhaps even more impressive was Paul Wolfe from Arizona, who won the masters 45-and-over race and then doubled back to win the 35-and-over event.

"That was totally amazing," race director Keith Hart said. "He is an awesome rider."

The two-day Classic attracted nearly 500 cyclists, mostly from around Northern Nevada and California.

A group of five riders from New Zealand were also on hand -- Savage, Rebecca Rose, Brenda Clapp, Paul Bishop and Dean Hill -- on the last day of a month-long visit to the Carson Valley. All are gearing up for cross country competition in Vail.

"It's been awesome," said Bishop, who finished second behind Hunt in the road race. "We've been able to ride the whole area. We went up to Ebbetts Pass the other day. We wouldn't be able to do any of this back in New Zealand; just before I left, it was raining and really, really cold. "

In addition to escaping New Zealand's winter season, they've also hit some favorite trails around the region.

"It's beautiful training for us. We've done all sorts of things. We've been up and done Mr. Toad's Wild Ride ... the Flume Trail," Snyder said. "Rebecca's done Mr. Toad's twice, she enjoyed it so much."

Rose nodded in agreement.

"I liked Mr. Toad's," she said. "The one at Truckee -- Hole in the Ground -- that's even better. It's all pretty amazing."


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