Well, its not too often you have the best pros in cycling racing through the streets of your hometown, but yesterday the USA Pro Cycling Challenge did just that. In its second year, the Pro Challenge is a week long tour of nearly 700 miles through the lovely state of Colorado. Sprints through sleepy ski towns, monstrous climbs over 12,000ft mountain passes, hundreds of miles through the gorgeous mountain countryside, and it all ended with a flat out Time Trial through the streets of Downtown Denver. Of course, cycling’s elite from around the world turned up to see if they could conquer it all.
Being a newcomer to the sport of pro cycling, well…I honestly had barely a clue what was going on. Last year, I came out to the inaugural event when they climbed Lookout Mountain in Golden, which was pretty cool to see the entire peloton eat up a climb that would probably damn near kill me. I didn’t think much of it, but it probably sparked my own personal cycling revolution. Aside from that, I’d never more than watched cycling on tv (like the Olympics or the Tour De France), much less gone to a pro TT event. Thousands of fans lined the closed off streets, myself and Heather included, and what a cool experience it was!
I liken it to qualifying in motor racing. One rider with a clear track just pushing like hell, pure speed, leaving nothing on the table. The top riders were finishing the 9.5 mi course in ~17 minutes, which works out to an insane 37mph average speed. The stage was won by (Colorado native) Taylor Phinney – who’s one of the sports young rising stars at merely 22 years old – with an overall time of 17:25. The overall winner wasn’t decided until literally the last moment, as defending champion Levi Leipheimer was the final rider on course. But Levi’s time wasn’t good enough to maintain his 21 second lead over Christian Vandevelde, who laid down a scorcher to finish second in the TT. Christian came up just 11 seconds short of the overall win last year, so I’m sure that made this years win that much sweeter.
I already can’t wait to wave my cowbell at next years event, maybe I can make a case for taking the whole week off and following the entire tour! I think the pro challenge has officially converted a fan. Check out my short gallery of pictures below!