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20 August 2014

Pro Challenge results Stage 3 - Gunnison to Monarch Mountain

Gunnison to Monarch Mountain mountain top finish

Considered by many to be the queen stage of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge, the peloton raced twice over Monarch Pass today. The second time they reached the top of the mountain, they got to stop. Monarch Mountain was a constant scene of activity during Stage 3.

Today was a big sky Colorado kind of day with our typical blue skies and white clouds forming the background for Mic Rogers' solo breakaway for miles and miles. This was the third day for the main GC contenders to spend some quality time together out on the road. I was happy to see everyone had thawed out from Stage 2 and Fränk Schleck was back on his bike after his crash yesterday. No screaming at officials today, just your typical audible cussing on TV coverage from the race leaders. (Nice for the kids watching).

With 6.3km to go in the stage (of 155km total), the yellow jersey group were climbing together to the final mountain top finish on Monarch Mountain. A series of attacks began by first Jaramillo and Acevedo, then pressure by Tom Danielson, and another attack by Bruno Pires. Matthew Busche made a big attempt with 3km to go. But after he was brought back, Tejay made the decisive move with only Rafal Majka catching his wheel. Within three minutes it was clear that Tejay would take the stage and the leaders jersey.

A decisive stage today with big changes to the GC.

I didn't get to go to the stage today (but I love that Tour Tracker!). I was happy to return home to Denver to take my dog back to his vet in Boulder to see Dr. Kaye to have his stitches removed from his cancer surgery last week. Jack had traveled with me to Aspen this week and had a great time, especially at the festival area and at the Hotel Jerome where free dog treats flowed.

I look forward to being back at the race tomorrow where I plan on riding my bike into Garden of the Gods to be with the fans. See you out there!


Stage 3 Results

First - Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team
Second - Rafał Majka (POL) of Tinkoff-Saxo
Third - Serghei Tvetcov (ROM) of Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis

GC Standings

First - Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team
Second - Rafał Majka (POL) of Tinkoff-Saxo
Third - Ben Hermans (BEL) of BMC Racing Team

Jersey Winners

Yellow Jersey – Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team
Green Jersey – Kiel Reijnen (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Mountains Jersey – Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC (will be worn by Danny Summerhill)
Blue Best Young Rider Jersey – Clement Chevrier (FRA) of Bissell DT
Orange Most Aggressive Rider Jersey – Michael Rogers (AUS) of Tinkoff-Saxo
Best Colorado Rider Jersey – Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team

Top-20 General Classification:
General Classification after Stage 3 (via Steephill.TV)
USA  1  VAN GARDEREN, Tejay (BMC RACING)                     10:34:53
POL  2  MAJKA, Rafal (TINKOFF-SAXO)                            +   20
BEL  3  HERMANS, Ben (BMC RACING)                              +   23
USA  4  DANIELSON, Thomas (GARMIN SHARP)                       +   34
MDA  5  TVETCOV, Serghei (JELLY BELLY P/B MAXXIS)              +   37
USA  6  BUSCHE, Matthew (TREK FACTORY RACING)                  +   46
POL  9  HUZARSKI, Bartosz (NETAPP - ENDURA)                    + 1:09
USA  10 KYER, Julian (TEAM SMARTSTOP)                          + 1:22
FRA  11 CHEVRIER, Clement (BISSELL DEVELOPMENT TEAM)           + 1:23
USA  12 HOWES, Alex (GARMIN SHARP)                             + 1:45
POR  13 PIRES, Bruno (TINKOFF-SAXO)                            + 2:28
USA  14 BOOKWALTER, Brent (BMC RACING)                         + 2:37
AUT  15 ZOIDL, Riccardo (TREK FACTORY RACING)                  + 2:47
POL  16 POLJANSKI, Pawel (TINKOFF-SAXO)                        + 4:06
USA  17 EUSER, Lucas (UNITEDHEALTHCARE)                        + 4:10
LUX  18 SCHLECK, Frank (TREK FACTORY RACING)                   + 5:20
COL  19 ACEVEDO COLLE, Janier Alexis (GARMIN SHARP)            + 6:02
GER  20 ZEPUNTKE, Ruben (BISSELL DEVELOPMENT TEAM)             + 7:00
Last Km of Stage 3 (03:36 English)nbcsports

PHOTOS - The new Top-3 in GC

1. Tejay van Garderen

Born in the state of Washington, but raised in Montana, Tejay now resides with his family in Aspen, Colorado. By age ten, Tejay was a bike racing phenom, he won numerous junior national titles and is a product of Colorado Junior development teams. Mostly he has the right genes combined with excellent mental tenacity and professionalism. He became a pro in 2008 first with Rabobank (he is of Dutch descent and speaks the language) then HTC-Columbia, and finally BMC.

Tejay van Garderen (BMC)

2. Rafal Majka

This standout climber from Poland is only 5'8" and 137lbs. He has been with his current team (under 3 different team names) since 2011 when he went pro. He won two stages of the Tour de France in 2014 and the coveted polka-dot mountains jersey. Rafal lists the Vuelta a España as one of his favorites races, he is missing out on that race to be here in Colorado. He currently sits 2nd in GC and 4th on KOM classifications. I hope it has been worth his time. 

Rafal Majka

3. Ben Hermans

The 6'2" Belgian is second in line for the KOM classification and 4th in the sprint classification. He has been a professional cyclist for six years, but in that short time he has raced for Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator, Radio-Shack, and BMC. He excels in time trials, one-day classics, stage races, and obviously riding at altitude in Colorado. He also has a Bachelor Biomedical Sciences. Smart, fast, good-looking - Ben is a rider who can do it all and a possible challenger to teammate Tejay in the ITT in Vail. Ben Hermans Palmares at ProCycling Stats.
Ben Hermans (BMC)

Podium girls

I haven't mentioned them yet, but people are already searching my website for Podium Girls for this year's race and instead landing upon Podium Girls 2012 USA Pro Challenge links. So here are a few photos of Courtney James and Heidi Golznig, the 2014 USA Pro Challenge Podium Girls (their official name is Pearl Izumi Podium Hostesses).

2014 USA Pro Challenge Podium Girls - Courtney (L) and Heidi (R)
Courtney James Podium Girl, USA Pro Challenge 2014
Heidi Golznig Podium Girl, USA Pro Challenge 2014
Podium kisses - 2014 Pro Challenge

Courtney and Heidi travel from stage to stage during the USA Pro Challenge with Race Announcers (those two guys on stage) Brad Sohner (@brahsohner) and Dave Towle (@DaveDTowle), two of the nicest guys you will ever meet. They know a lot about each rider and really understand race tactics, they also have the ability to talk - for hours about anything bike race related.

Race Announcer Brad Sohner (left) in Aspen standing by to interview Tejay van Garderen before Stage 2 start yesterday in Aspen. Read more about Brad in an interview I did years ago: Who is that voice on stage?
Dave Towle interviewing Danny Summerhill yesterday, Dave has known Danny since he was a kid.

Another post I wrote today:  Recommended Reading: Cam Wurf blog for CyclingTips

Cameron Wurf being interviewd by Paul Sherwen


Stage 4 activities and schedule for the day: 
Thursday, August 21, 2014, Colorado Springs Circuit Race

THURSDAY, STAGE 4 : 70 miles Stage 4 Map PDF  Stage 4 Profile PDF
Colorado Springs circuit race. Two initial laps near Broadmoor Hotel, then 4 laps of a 16-mile circuit with climbs through Garden of the Gods to downtown Colorado Springs.

Stage 4 Start time: 12:50pm
Stage 4 Finish time: 3:50pm

State Highways Impacted: US 24, I-2,  USA Pro Challenge Road Closures 2014, Road Closures by Street

COLORADO SPRINGS - Thursday, Stage 4
On the path of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge - Colorado Springs By Pedal Dancer®
Thursday: 6:00am roads inside Garden of the Gods closed to all cars.
Thursday: 11:00-6:00pm - Festival downtown
Thursday: 12:50pm - Stage 4 Start at 12:50 outside the Broadmoor Hotel
Thursday: 3:50pm - Stage 4 Finish in downtown Colorado Springs
Best viewing: Start line at Broadmoor Hotel, Historic Area on Colorado Blvd, Garden of the Gods (uphill sections), downtown Colorado Springs sprint and finish line.
Colorado Springs USA Pro Local Stage 4 Information Page

My tips on how and where to see the race here: On the path of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge - Colorado Springs 

2014 USA Pro Challenge - Stage 4 route map

USA PRO CHALLENGE Race, travel and fan guide by Pedal Dancer®

Recommended Reading: Cam Wurf blog for CyclingTips

“anything and everything can happen in the rockies!”

Australian Cameron Wurf is in Colorado this week racing with Team Cannondale. Yesterday he penned an account of the "four seasons" of epic Stage 2 into Crested Butte. It's a good read, you'll get a better feel for what the riders truly went through on the stage.

Please read:  Cam Wurf’s USA Pro Challenge Diary: Stage 2 In the rockies, always pack a warm pair of gloves! by Cam Wurf for CyclingTips - August 20, 2014

Cam is a rider well worth trying to identify among the bright green jerseys of Cannondale and giving a cheer for during the Pro Challenge this week in Colorado. Age thirty-one, Cameron has been a professional cyclist for eight years.

Cameron Wurf (middle) enters for the team presentation with his teammates Ivan Basso and Ted King
Wurf with his Cannondale team (next to Ivan Basso)
Cameron Wurf (right) being interviewed by Paul Sherwen at the Opening Ceremonies on Saturday
Australia Cam Wurf and New Zealander Hayden Roulston approaching the start line in Aspen for Stage 2 yesterday
Cam wears bib #42
Also read Cam's story from Stage 1: kicking things off in colorado, dumb and dumber! Monday, August 18, 2014

I really enjoy reading the inside scoop stories of what really happened in the race, the very best come from the riders themselves. Cameron Wurf writes a regular blog - follow his adventures as a ProTour cyclist:

Also Cameron Wurf palmares on ProCycling Stats, or on Twitter @CameronWurf

Cannondale Team roster for the 2014 USA Pro Challenge:

  41BASSO  IvanITA
  42WURF  CameronAUS
  43KING  EdwardUSA
  44KOCH  MichelGER
  47SALERNO  CristianoITA

19 August 2014

ProChallenge reports from the road Stage 2 - Aspen to Crested Butte

Aspen to Mt Crested Butte Road Race (Mud Race)

Stage 2 of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge departed Aspen through Carbondale over McClure Pass to take on the dirt road of Kebler Pass. Finally descending through the town of Crested Butte the peloton climbed to Mt Crested Butte for a short mountain top finish.

But a lot happened in between!

News from Steephill.TV about the mayhem of Stage 2:
Confusion in Coloradocyclingnews
Race is neutralized with just 11 Km remaining in Stage 2 (05:06 English)nbcsports
Alex Howes upset about the neutralization Post-Stage 2 (01:51 English) nbcsports

I feel terrible for what the pro riders went through today. Strange thing is I was speaking with the Race Radio official next to her car this morning in Aspen, we started chatting about the weather and she said they would neutralize the race on the pass if the weather was bad as expected, then begin the riders again at their time gaps. My response was, "Well, either the rain will make it less dusty or really muddy, but these are pro riders with really good bike handling skills." I doubted it was necessary.

It is a pretty amazing sight to watch the video clips above and see the large pack of riders begin to "argue their point" with the race official who held the race up AFTER they had descended. They simply wanted to race. We can only imagine how awful it must have been to wait 5 to 7 minutes, soaked and freezing on the open road, for the officials to recreate the race and allow them to proceed a short 8+km, 5km down to seal in the cold, then a sharp uphill to the finish. Just take a look of Tejay van Garderen shivering on the podium after the stage, it'll break your heart.

Race Organizers printed in their post race media release recap, "No. 1 priority is the riders’ safety." I believe the problem was the poor orchestration of their intention for safety.

I suppose we can find some happiness in these quotes by Robin Carpenter, "This win is huge for us and for me personally it’s massive – the best ride I’ve had in my short career so far," and by Alex Howes, "This is my second yellow jersey ever. First was Estes Park Stage Race. Cat 4," (via @PhilGaimon).

And Phil's own tweet after the day ...


Stage 2 Results

First - Robin Carpenter (USA) of Hincapie Sportswear Development Team
Second - Alex Howes (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp
Third - Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team

GC Standings

First - Alex Howes (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp
Second - Ben Hermans (BEL) of BMC Racing Team
Third - Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team

Jersey Winners

Yellow Jersey – Alex Howes (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp
Green Jersey – Kiel Reijnen (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Polka Dot Mountains Jersey – Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) of Jamis-Hagens Berman
Blue Best Young Rider Jersey – Clement Chevrier (FRA) of BissellDT FirstBank
Orange Most Aggressive Jersey – Robin Carpenter (USA) of Hincapie Sportswear DT
Colorado National Guard Best Colorado Rider Jersey – Alex Howes (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp
General Classification after Stage 2 (courtesy of Steephill.TV)
USA  1  HOWES, Alex (GARMIN SHARP)                           6:44:00
BEL  2  HERMANS, Ben (BMC RACING)                             +   11
USA  3  VAN GARDEREN, Tejay (BMC RACING)                      +   12
USA  4  BUSCHE, Matthew (TREK FACTORY RACING)                
USA  5  DANIELSON, Thomas (GARMIN SHARP)                      +   21
USA  6  KYER, Julian (TEAM SMARTSTOP)                         +   25
MDA  8  TVETCOV, Serghei (JELLY BELLY P/B MAXXIS)             +   29
CAN  10 BRITTON, Rob (TEAM SMARTSTOP)                        
POL  11 HUZARSKI, Bartosz (NETAPP - ENDURA)                  
POL  13 MAJKA, Rafal (TINKOFF-SAXO)                           +   32
GER  14 VOIGT, Jens (TREK FACTORY RACING)                     +   39
USA  15 BOOKWALTER, Brent (BMC RACING)                        +   52
ESP  16 MEGIAS LEAL, Javier (NOVO NORDISK)                    + 1:22
POR  17 PIRES, Bruno (TINKOFF-SAXO)                          
USA  18 PUTT, Tanner (BISSELL DEVELOPMENT TEAM)              
AUS  19 NORRIS, Lachlan (DRAPAC)                              + 1:23
USA  21 GAIMON, Phillip (GARMIN SHARP)                        + 1:31
USA  22 STETINA, Peter (BMC RACING)                           + 1:34
GER  23 ZEPUNTKE, Ruben (BISSELL DEVELOPMENT TEAM)            + 1:36
AUT  24 ZOIDL, Riccardo (TREK FACTORY RACING)                 + 1:38
COL  25 ACEVEDO COLLE, Janier Alexis (GARMIN SHARP)           + 1:54
USA  26 REIJNEN, Kiel (UNITEDHEALTHCARE)                      + 2:11

Riders dropping out
82 BEL 19910724 DE MESMAEKER Kevin (Team Novo Nordisk)
94 USA 19901201 BERRY Joshua (Team SmartStop)
118 NZL 19950112 WHITEHOUSE Daniel (Team Rapha Condor JLT)


This morning was a cool calm cloudy morning in Aspen. It drizzled rain for a bit, but the Tuesday morning weather seemed to quiet the mood at the Stage Start on Main St in Aspen. It put me in the mood to grab a latte and say hello to friends I know inside the race network of staff and support.

This morning, I also carried my "small camera", a Pentax K5 with a Pentax SMCP-FA 43mm f/1.9 Limited Series lens. This lens allows me to move around quickly and not feel like my big long lens is in the way of the riders or other photogs. I like it for stage starts and cyclocross, when subjects are up close and personal. Its fixed focal range also removes almost all need for editing, saving tons of time.

This evening I had fun tweeting a bunch of photos from my day in Aspen. You can see them on Twitter at @karenrake or I will simply add them right here for your enjoyment ...

Phil Gaimon and Manual for Speed - selfie
Tejay all smiles and warm in the morning
James Oram and Ruben Zepuntke of Bissell Development Team
Lots of sign language going on at call ups
Jens Voigt
Clement Chevrier
The one and only - Danny Summerhill!
Kiel Reijnen being interviewed by Dave Towle
Jens Voigt and his Farewell Fans jersey
Ted King and Alex Howes scouted out the Press Tent pre race
Whitney Rogers and Rafal Majka
Ted King waiting for the start
poser Thomas Dekker
A clean Alex Howes in the morning, before he traded in his green jersey for a yellow one.
And this photo from yesterday - the legs of Eric Marcotte and Fränk Schleck

The peloton rolls out of Aspen to begin Stage 2
That moment of great unknown when any rider could win the stage. Today's winner was tucked in over on the right side.


Stage 3 activities and schedule for the day:
Wednesday, August 20, 2014, Gunnison to Monarch Mountain

WEDNESDAY, STAGE 3 : 96 miles Stage 3 Map PDF  Stage 3 Profile PDF
Gunnison to Monarch Mountain (climbing both sides) with 2 loops near Salida; mountain top finish on Monarch Pass from the east side.

Stage 3 Start time: 11:25am
Stage 3 Finish time: 3:50pm

State Highways Impacted: SH 135, US 50, US28,  USA Pro Challenge Road Closures 2014

GUNNISON - SALIDA - MONARCH MTN - Wednesday, Stage 3
Wednesday: 9:30-12:30pm - Festival in Gunnison
Wednesday: 11:30-5:00pm - Big Festival on Monarch Mountain Pass
Wednesday: 11:25am - Stage 3 Start in Gunnison
Wednesday: 3:50pm - Stage 3 Finish (mountain top finish on Monarch Pass!)
Best viewing: Start line in Gunnison, Monarch Pass, sprint in Salida

Weather: scattered rain showers 12pm-6pm

2014 USA Pro Challenge - Stage 3 route map

USA PRO CHALLENGE Race, travel and fan guide by Pedal Dancer®

Pro Challenge reports from the road Stage 1 - Aspen/Snowmass

Aspen/Snowmass Village Circuit Race

The 2014 USA Pro Challenge kicked off today with a fast 3 laps around the beautiful mountain towns of Aspen and Snowmass Village. The riders lined up ready to race including defending champion Tejay van Garderen. He finished safely 12" behind the stage winner Kiel Reijnen who barely edged out Alex Howes in the sprint for the line.

Rafal Majka, Frank Schleck, Tom Danielson, Michalel Schar, Peter Stetina, and Tiago Machada all finished in the same pack of riders with Tejay van Garderen. Matthew Busche did very well on the stage coming in 3" behind the winners together with Carter Jones. Leopold Konig finished within a group of riders 5'38" down, he explained he had been bitten by a "dirty insect" and had had a fever for two days prior to the race start.


Stage 1 Results
First – Kiel Reijnen (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Second – Alex Howes (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp
Third – Ben Hermans (BEL) of BMC Racing Team

Jersey Winners
Yellow Leader Jersey – Kiel Reijnen (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Green Sprint Jersey – Kiel Reijnen (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Polka Dot King of the Mountains Jersey – Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) of Jamis-Hagens Berman
Blue Jersey – Clement Chevrier (FRA) of Bissell Development Team
Orange Jersey – Danny Summerhill (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Colorado National Guard Best Colorado Rider Jersey – Kiel Reijnen (USA) of UHC

Top 25 Riders
Stage 1 Results
USA  1  REIJNEN, Kiel (UNITEDHEALTHCARE)                          2:26:35
USA  2  HOWES, Alex (GARMIN SHARP)                                
BEL  3  HERMANS, Ben (BMC RACING)                                    +  3
USA  5  BUSCHE, Matthew (TREK FACTORY RACING)                     
ESP  6  MEGIAS LEAL, Javier (NOVO NORDISK)                        
SUI  7  SCHÄR, Michael (BMC RACING)                                  + 12
USA  9  BOOKWALTER, Brent (BMC RACING)                            
USA  10 EUSER, Lucas (UNITEDHEALTHCARE)                           
USA  11 VAN GARDEREN, Tejay (BMC RACING)                          
POL  12 MAJKA, Rafal (TINKOFF-SAXO)                               
MDA  13 TVETCOV, Serghei (JELLY BELLY P/B MAXXIS)                 
LUX  14 SCHLECK, Frank (TREK FACTORY RACING)                      
USA  15 STETINA, Peter (BMC RACING)                               
USA  16 DANIELSON, Thomas (GARMIN SHARP)                          
USA  17 KYER, Julian (TEAM SMARTSTOP)                             
POL  19 HUZARSKI, Bartosz (NETAPP - ENDURA)                       
CAN  20 BRITTON, Rob (TEAM SMARTSTOP)                             
POR  21 MACHADO, Tiago (NETAPP - ENDURA)                          
GER  22 VOIGT, Jens (TREK FACTORY RACING)                            + 15
AUT  23 ZOIDL, Riccardo (TREK FACTORY RACING)                     
COL  25 ACEVEDO COLLE, Janier Alexis (GARMIN SHARP)                  + 20

*Rider after the time limit:   112  GBR 19830714 BRIGGS Graham
*Rider DNF:  148  USA 19730903 RODRIGUEZ Fred


Kiel with a hand over Tejay's shoulder, arriving into Aspen pre race (Taylor Phinney is the other BMC rider, kitted up but did not race)
Kiel Reijnen (far left) before at the call up of Stage 1
Agony of defeat in Stage 1 - Reijnen wins, Howes loses by inches
Stage 1 podium celebration
Classification jerseys after Stage 1 USA Pro Challenge 2014
Fun scene at the Festival in Aspen

Stage 2 activities and schedule for the day: 
Tuesday, August 19, 2014, Apsen to Crested Butte

STAGE 2 : 105 miles Stage 2 Map PDF  Stage 2 Profile PDF
Tuesday, Aug. 19 – Aspen to Mt. Crested Butte
Aspen to Crested Butte, "the back way," Dirt Road. No Independence Pass for 2014!

Race Begins: Approximately 11:10 a.m.
Race Ends: Approximately 4:00 p.m.
Weather: expected rain and light rain showers (bring a rain jacket!)

State Highways Impacted: SH 82, SH 133, USA Pro Challenge Road Closures 2014
Kebler Pass closed in both directions - 11:00am Monday 8/18/14 through 3:00pm Tuesday 8/19/14.
On the path of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge - Aspen By Pedal Dancer® local Aspen race website Gunnison Race website
Tuesday: 8:30-10:30am - Aspen Festival at Paepke Park
Tuesday: 11:10 am - Aspen - Stage 2 Star
Tuesday: 12:00-6:00pm - Festival in Crested Butte 
Best viewing: Start line in Aspen, Carbondale spring, McClure Pass, Kebler Pass, downtown Crested Butte, Mtn top finish up Mt Crested Butte.

Alternate drive to Crested Butte for vehicles: Independence Pass to Twin Lakes, Buena Vista, over Cottonwood Pass into Crested Butte. RV and Buses you'll need to follow after the races and continue to Peonia, Hotchkiss and Gunnison, then Crested Butte. 

2014 USA Pro Challenge - Stage 2 route map
USA PRO CHALLENGE Race, travel and fan guide by Pedal Dancer®

18 August 2014

USAPro reports from the road - Aspen Weekend, Press Conference

Official Press Conference at Hotel Jerome in Aspen

Press Conferences are sort of ceremonial. I think media attend out of pure enthusiasm and respect for the event and race organizers. Nothing is typically learned from the simple questions asked, but I enjoy seeing the interaction between the riders off of the bike. They are in a different mood on a non race day (the press conference is typically conducted the day before the race begins) and the general atmosphere is one of calm respect.

Good humor and patience are most on display at any press conference.

It takes some experience for a rider to handle and answer questions in a professional respectful way. After all they hear the same questions a lot. Highlights are typically when a young high school journalist asks a question, or when a rider teases another rider about a particular personality trait. Other than that, I could assure you ahead of time that all the riders are happy to be in Colorado and all say they will race hard but do not know who will win.

The most interesting questions were about the fewer number of ProTour teams at the USA Pro Challenge this year, mostly due to timing, injuries and competing races including the Vuelta a España. The other hot topic pertained to the shorter length of the stages in the race this year. Race Director Jim Birrell explained that the parcours are planned based on timing in the season, altitude, weather and terrain.

The at times appearing catatonic riders came to life at this question and their response was to begin grabbing the mics to state their agreement and appreciation in the design of this year's route through Colorado. It is tough enough and they really appreciate being a considering factor in the design of the overall route. As Frank Schleck stated, "They planned the route with their eyes."

It was also nice to hear Fränk Schleck say he wouldn't have missed Jens' farewell tour for anything, they have ridden together on the same team for many years. And yes, this is Jens Voigt's last race. I and many other fans are thrilled to be part of #FarewellJens.

In attendance at the Press Conference were:

Shawn Hunter, CEO, USA Pro Challenge
Jim Birrell, Race Director
Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team
Jens Voigt (GER) of RadioShack Leopard Trek
Tom Danielson (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp
Michael Rogers (AUS) of Tinkoff-Saxo
Ivan Basso (ITA) of Cannondale Pro Cycling
Fränk Schleck (LUX)  of Trek Factory Racing
Rafał Majka (POL) of Tinkoff-Saxo
Martijn Verschoor (NLD) Team Novo Nordisk
Leopold Konig (CZE) Team NetApp-Endura
and a very impressive showing of media members

Rider Rosters for the 2014 USA Pro Challenge By Pedal Dancer
Pro Teams for 2014 USA Pro Challenge By Pedal Dancer

The morning started with a hike (for me and my dog), a little time in the Media Room, and then some time out on the road spotting teams in training. The weather was spectacular. Aspen is simply the PERFECT host city for a stage race start. 

NetApp Endura riders stop on their training ride for a photo op
UHC Training on McClain Flats Rd
That would be Rafal Majka and his Tinkoff Saxo team training. They gave me a "Ciao Bella," made my day!
Just a typical day in Snowmass with Trek Factory Racing team on the road
NetApp-Endura all smiles and friendly hellos
Tommy D was out training on his own with his team car
I saw lots of other riders and teams, all with a ready wave hello. Super fun morning along the route of Stage 1.

Photos from the Press Conference

The riders watched the USA Pro Challenge promo video. They like watching bike racing as much as we do.
Ivan Basso spoke with meaning and emotion in very excellent English. He has charm galore.
Tejay van Garderen
Shawn Hunter, Michael Rogers, Jim Birrell
Fränk Schleck, he seems to really be enjoying his time in Colorado
This is Jensie's typical press conference face
He is a man of many expressions
Tom Danielson often looks like he needs a hug
Can't wait to see how Rafal Majka races in Colorado this week
Fränk Schleck and Ivan Basso are good friends
My favorite photo of the day was when Frank Schleck walked out of the press conference and noticed the elk hanging on the walls above him inside the Hotel Jerome. He stood there studying them very closely. He comes from a family of cyclists, fishermen, and hunters.

Fränk Schleck studying the elk in the Hotel Jerome

Stage 1 activities and schedule for the day: August 18, 2014, Apsen/Snowmass Village Circuit

STAGE 1 : 65 miles Stage 1 Map PDF  Stage 1 Profile PDF
Monday, Aug. 18 – Aspen Circuit Race
Aspen circuit race, 3 laps of nearly 22-miles each, and 2,300 ft. of climbing per lap.

Race Begins: Approximately 2:40 p.m.! they changed the start time!
Race Ends: Approximately 4:45 p.m.
State Highways Impacted: SH 82,  USA Pro Challenge Road Closures 2014

2:40pm - Race Start, Race Finish at 4:45pm. Podium presentation 30-minutes after the stage finish.
12:00-5:00pm - VIP tickets: buy start/finish tent $350 each. Where: Main St., Aspen.
12:00-5:00pm - Fan Club Meeting (Trek Travel for Jens Voigt Fans) Stage 1: Aspen Circuit Race. Where: El Rincon, 411 East Main Street, Aspen. Price: $50 per person, order tickets
4:45pm - Race Finish on Main St, Aspen. Podium presentation 30-minutes after the stage finish. 

2014 USA Pro Challenge - Stage 1 route map
USA PRO CHALLENGE Race, travel and fan guide by Pedal Dancer®
On the path of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge - Aspen/Snowmass Village by Pedal Dancer® local Aspen city race website.