USA Pro Cycling Challenge Came To Town
It’s not everyday an International Stage Race comes through your city. But it did yesterday when the USA Pro Cycling Challenge had the stage 5 finish in Colorado Springs.
Here’s the scoop on the stage and what I saw.
The peloton started in Breckenridge and had a 118 mile trek to the finish line. The stage was the “flattest” one yet, with only about 5500 feet of climbing. There was actually quite a bit of elevation loss, somewhere around 8000 feet, which makes for a FAST ride for these guys.
I headed downtown after a lunchtime yoga class to get in on the action. I rode my bike from the other side of the highway to downtown so that I wouldn’t have to deal with parking near by. I’m glad I did, with the detour and closures there was a long line of cars over the bridge, but the bike lane was free and clear! I dropped my bike off at the Bike Valet and figured out where to grab a bite to eat. I found a great place set up at the 500m to go line.
Soon the word was out that the peloton was about an hour ahead of schedule. So after I put away a great tuna sandwich, I headed south. I found a WMBA friend at the 200m to go mark so I hung out there. We could just make out the big screen that was down at the finish so we had an idea where the riders were.
The Pro Cycling party was starting. The crowds were building.
When the official race vehicles made their way through the line, we knew the riders were really close. Then the lead motorcycles came through, and crowd cheered louder and louder. The guy with the time board had written “Hello COS” or something like that on the board. Cool. Then the fast guys on bikes came through. This is what that looked like.
They then had 3 laps of downtown to go before the finishing sprint, and each time through you could see how the organization of the race changed slightly. The guys that were off the front weren’t as far in front on the first circuit lap. Then they were absorbed into the group. Then it was teams trying to get their sprinter safely to the front and lead them out.
Then Tyler Farrar was able to make his move with Colorado native Taylor Phinney just behind in 2nd. Great finish!
Once all the riders had crossed the line (there were a few stragglers, but it didn’t take long) they did the jersey awards. Tejay van Garderen maintained the yellow jersey, but Christian Vande Velde still has the same time. Recognized as well was Colorado Springs resident Michael Creed of Optum p/b Kelly Benefits for his work to raise $35,000 for the local Red Cross chapter in the Colorado Fire Sale, an eBay auction of donated cycling gear from riders and companies. This was in response to the Waldo Canyon Fire that affected our city just two months ago.
Now the stage is done, what next? Attend the Finish Festival of course! Tons of people checking out tons of vendors, enjoying the amazing cycling race atmosphere. I ran into a lot of people I knew. I guess I’d expect that since I move in the outdoor/endurance sport circles here in town, all those people were going to be enjoying the festivities.
The Cafe Velo tent was hopping, especially as Mario Cipollini was hanging out there.
The major bike vendors all had great tents, and the New Belgium brews were flowing. I worked my way back to the park and got to see the Mobile Music Project getting packed up. Who can’t love a project that combines cycling and music? And it was impressive to see Allen load up over 400lbs of equipment and ride away on it.
By 7:30 I was pretty tired so I headed home and watched the recap of the race on NBC Sports. I’ll just say it’s pretty darn cool to see the pros racing on the roads you ride all the time.
Now I’m looking forward to Stage 6 today to see if the finish on Flagstaff shakes out the field at all.