Locals finish on Dillon Criterium podium
DILLON, Colo. So much for an off weekend for Max Taam. Saturday, just seven days after finishing fourth in his first Leadville 100 – two spots behind 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis, no less – Taam continued his summer hot streak with a runner-up finish in the pro division at the Dillon Criterium.It was the first pro podium for Taam, an Aspen Mountain ski patroller who has quickly made a name for himself on his bike after taking up competitive racing just last summer. In Dillon, Taam again proved his mettle against one of cycling’s elite.The 24-year-old was right behind Boulder’s Scott Moninger – currently the winningest active racer in North America with 275 wins – in a sprint to the finish line. Dirk Friel of the Vitamin Cottage team was right behind Taam, and just in front of a huge crash that claimed a number of riders on the race’s final turn.Taam is the defending overall champion in the local Aspen Cycling Club series, and has competed for the Boulder-Denver Couriers this summer in road races on the Front Range.His teammates helped propel him to an individual state championship at last month’s Category 3 criterium in Longmont – a win that allowed Taam to jump up to Category 2 races.His best finish in road races before Saturday was a 23rd out of 90 starters at the Bannock Street Criterium on Aug. 5 in Denver. As for mountain biking, Taam had never done a fat-tire race longer than 25 miles before his shocking finish in the grueling Leadville 100.He wasn’t the only local to end up on the podium Saturday. Tim Clement, a teammate of Taam’s on the Couriers, won the Category 3 men’s race. Saturday’s race was followed by Sunday’s Copper Criterium, which Vitamin Cottage’s Christian McCarthy won in narrow fashion ahead of Moninger. Friel helped his teammate to the win, and just missed finishing on the podium for the second day in a row, taking fourth.Taam caught a cold Saturday night, and finished back in the race, which returned to Copper after a 15-year absence.