Exhilirating Racing as the Pro Cycling Challenge Gets Underway!
As we load up the MyHandleBar bikes today for the Golden Block Party to kick off Stage 6 tomorrow, check out the excitement from the first three stages of the challenge!
The USA Pro Cycling challenge is underway and it’s very clear that this is a race between the two Boulder locals Tom Danielson (Tommy-D, Garmin-Sharp, left) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC, right). After Stage 1 both riders had the same time overall, a zero second gap on the leader Farrar (Garmin-Sharp). Farrar won the yellow jersey in a sprint finish in Telluride. Stage 2 was shocking!!- with only a few miles to go to the summit of Mount Crested Butte, a breakaway with a 5-minute advantage threw it all away with cat and mouse games. This gave an opening for Tejay (BMC) to come out of nowhere and take a stage victory. This simultaneously netted him the yellow jersey and a 12 second gap on Tommy-D (Garmin-Sharp). WOH! I know….
Stage 3, however was one of the most exciting races I have seen- leaving my heart racing minutes after the finish in Aspen. During Stage 3, riders had to ascend both Cottonwood and Independence Pass. As any Coloradan knows, each of these passes is brutal in itself but stringing them together over a 130-mile ride is down right disgusting. At the summit of Cottonwood Tommy-D (Garmin-Sharp) took a chance on what looked like the breakaway of the race. He attacked and rode like a man possessed; gaining several minutes on the peloton as he blazed up Independence pass solo. It was obvious that Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) had something to prove after his devastating crash in the Tour’s Metz Massacre, where he dislocated both shoulders. As Tommy-D (Garmin-Sharp) came to the summit of Independence pass the scene was indistinguishable from footage of the Tour de France as riders crossed the summit of the legendary Alpe d’huez. Hundreds of spectators crowded the road, leaving a shoulder width gap for Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) to slide through. Were you one of these?!
When Tommy-D (Garmin-Sharp) passed the summit he had accrued a full 3 minute gap on the peloton, the stage and the yellow jersey were all but guaranteed. When Tejay (BMC) got word of this over race radio, he was forced to take over the pace making at the front of the peloton, giving all he had to reel back the massive lead Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) had accumulated on the pass.
With 12.5 miles to go, it was clear that Tejay (BMC) needed a teammate to help with the chase. Unfortunately BMC was shattered after being forced to do the pace making going up Independence pass. As a result, Tejay (BMC) was forced to rejoin a peloton completely void of the red and black of team BMC. Regardless, Tejay had recuperated and got back on the front to really drill the pace.
Fortunately for Tejay (BMC) shortly thereafter, fellow BMC rider Mathias Frank was able to grind his way to the front of the peloton to trade off pulls with the yellow jersey. With 4 miles to go the gap was down to 40 seconds! What?! With 2.1 miles to go they pulled all the neutral vehicles between Tommy-D(Garmin-Sharp) and the BMC lead pain train. This is a horrible sign if you are a cyclist in a breakaway, as this signifies that the referees believe the breakaway will be caught.
Stage 3 ended on an “edge of your seat” finish in which Tommy-D (Garmin-Sharp) claimed the stage victory with only 2 seconds over the charging peloton. Stage 3 was an absolutely thrilling race including a beautiful breakaway by Tommy-D (Garmin-Sharp) and a brilliant chase by Tejay (BMC).
In the end, Tejay lost the yellow jersey to Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) on a count back of 2. What this means for those of you that aren’t huge race fans: when you have two people with the same time over all (across all previous stages) then they add together all your places for each day, the person with the smallest score is declared the winner. So while Tejay (BMC) and Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) had accumulated the exact same time, Vande Velde(Garmin-Sharp) came in 2 places (over the last 3 stages) higher than Tejay(BMC).
This yellow jersey swap to Vande Velde(Garmin-Sharp) really mixes things up.
While Tejay (BMC) and Christian (Garmin-Sharp) have the same time, Christian (Garmin-Sharp) basically had an easy ride today, as Tommy-D(Garmin-Sharp) and Tejay (BMC) in large part did all the work. Will the fatigue of Tejay (BMC) or Tommy-D (Garmin-Sharp) catch up with them? Or on the other hand, will Tejay (BMC) losing the “weight of the yellow jersey” give him a slight break from the peloton? With the riders heading right back over Independence pass first thing in the morning for stage 4, we will be able to see right away what toll (if any) stage 3’s all out battle had on the two young riders. Which riders are you pulling for? Our bets are still on Boulder local Tejay (BMC)!
Thanks to Josh- our local Boulder cyclist and all things racing blogger!