20 August 2015

How to see Stage 7 of USA Pro Challenge 2015

SUNDAY, August 23, STAGE 7 - Golden to Denver

What is the best way to see Stage 7 of the 2015 USA Pro Challenge as a fan? Whether this is your fifth year of attending this exciting race, or you are a totally new fan to the event, this easy one-page guide is intended to help locals and tourists better plan for watching Stage 7 in Golden and Denver.

The men's route of Stage 7 is very similar to the final route of the stage race in 2011. the women's route is a 1.3 miles loop and will be repeated for one-hour. The race has finished in Denver every year of its five-year history. Golden has been a Host City every year except 2013.

Find what you need to know about Stage 7 of the USA Pro Challenge in Golden and Denver, below in the following order: Stage 7 dates, stage information, start time, finish time, sprint location, KOM location, classification Jerseys, route map, climb profiles, race organization, city tourism, town websites, local events, road closures, VIP tickets, apparel, TV coverage, Tour Tracker app, media coverage, stage preview, recommendations, where to ride, results, current standings and photos.

Seal Pond in Civic Center Park, Denver floats the USA Pro Challenge logo. Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®
Golden, The wall mural of Mountain Toad Brewery in Golden. Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®
  • Golden to Denver
  • climb of Lookout Mountain
  • Women's Criterium in Golden
  • Men's Road Race from Golden to Denver
  • The men's race will complete 4 laps in Denver
  • Same route in Denver as in 2014
  • WOMEN'S Stage 3 Start time: 10:30 am (plan your early arrival for the women's race)
  • WOMEN'S Stage 3 Finish time: estimated 11:30 am
  • WOMEN's Podium Presentation in Golden 
  • Podium Presentation typically 15-minutes after all riders finish the stage  
  • MEN'S Stage 7 Start time: 1:10 pm 
  • MEN'S Stage 7 Finish time: approximate 3:38-4:18 pm (3:45-4:03 expected)
  • MEN's Podium Presentation on a stage placed on the street near the finish area after.
  • Stage Log / Schedule of arrival at streets on route: Stage 7 Log
  • LEXUS CLUB VIP Hospitality opens at 1:00 pm on Broadway (near Colfax) $250 Buy tickets
  • Road closures: CDOT (select tab at left) 
  • Stage start area near the team buses and sign-in stage are great places to get autographs  
  • Denver Stage 7 Finish Festival hours: 11:30 am - 5:00 pm in Civic Center Park
*Important Note: The women’s podium will take place after the Finish in Golden. The GC & Stage winners will then head to Denver to take part in the men’s press conference (press conference closed to the public).    

What I plan to do tomorrow:

Show up in Golden at 9:30am. Watch the women's criterium from 10:30-11:30am. See the women's Podium Presentation at 11:45am. Go to the team buses around 12:00pm and then to the final sign-in stage at 12:30pm. See the men's race start in Golden at 1:10pm. Drive to Denver, walk through the festival in Civic Center Park. See the finish, watch the podium presentation. Go to the press conference and go home. Pet the dog. Sleep.
Map of 2015 USA Pro Challenge Colorado
Map of 2015 USA Pro Challenge Colorado

STAGE 7 - Golden to Denver maps - 4 laps in Denver!
Sunday, August 23, STAGE 7 - road race  

The race in 2015:

Crossing some of the most spectacular scenery in Colorado, through many of our most popular towns, this bike race is called a stage race (UCI 2.HC). The same group of riders will race day after day for seven days, from city to city across the state of Colorado, with no rest day. The man (and woman!) with the lowest time wins. Although the Grand Tours in Europe (Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a Espana) are up to 3-weeks in length, and the Tour of California is an 8-day race extending over two weekends, the Colorado tour is a one week race from Monday, August 17th through Sunday, August 23rd.

The 3rd stage of the women's race will begin and end in Golden on the same day as the men's final stage from Golden to Denver. Be aware of early road closures. 

The architecture of Golden (founded 1859, gold rush) reminds me of Durango (founded 1881, railroad). Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

MENS TEAMS: Read much more about the teams selected in this Pedal Dancer® post: Which Teams will race in the USA Pro Challenge 2015?  Official startlist of riders has not yet been announced by race organizers.

WOMENS TEAMS: Read much more about the teams selected in this Pedal Dancer® post: USA Pro Challenge 2015 Women's Teams Announced

Team BMC in 2015. Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

STAGE 3 - Golden - WOMENS
Sunday, August 23, 2015
60 minutes plus 3 laps
Circuit Race (repeated laps, within a set time, the race does not continue to Denver)

Sprint: Downtown Loveland
KOM: Rist Canyon

Stage 3 Women's Route Map pdf
Stage 3 Women's Profile pdf
Golden Women's Circuit Route Map USA Pro Challenge 2015 - route of all laps

Golden Women's Circuit Profile USA Pro Challenge 2015 - profile of all laps

  • Start City: Golden downtown
  • Finish City: Denver downtown (4 laps in Denver)
  • 68 Miles / 110 Kilometers / 3,237 ft of climbing
  • Stage 7 Route Map pdf
  • Stage 7 Climb Profile pdf
  • Zoom in Maps
  • MENS Sprint: at Finish Line
  • MENS KOM: Lookout Mountain
  • Highlights: climb of Lookout Mountain, finish near the capital building in the state capital of Denver, after 4 laps to city Park and back.
USA Pro Challenge Stage 7 route maps 2015
USA Pro Challenge Stage 7 route maps 2015 - Golden to Denver
Profile map Stage 7 Golden USA Pro Challenge 2015
Profile map Stage 7 Golden USA Pro Challenge 2015
Denver Stage 7 Finish Map USA Pro Challenge 2015
Denver Stage 7 Finish Map USA Pro Challenge 2015


Lookout Mountain (one way) - from Golden
Nearby town: Golden
Area of Colorado: Golden, at the base of the foothills near I-70
Road: Lookout Mountain Road
Distance (miles): 4.5
Grade (avg.): 5%; max 7%
Ascent (ft): 1282
Max elevation (ft): 7317
Difficulty (rmcc): 2.1
Bucket list rating: 4
Nearby climbs: Deer Creek Canyon/High Grade, Golden Gate Canyon
Notes: A Front Range landmark climb, short but sweet. Nice views of Denver. You will see cyclists on this climb year-round.

Lookout Mountain profile

The switchbacks of Lookout Mountain, Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®
Lookout Mountain Links, discover more about the climb:
Stage 7 jersey. Buy

Race website: USAProCyclingChallenge.com
Twitter: @USAProChallenge
Facebook: USAProChallenge
Sponsors: Founding and Official Race Partners

A wonderful board, in the Sierra Nevada booth, of a map where the visitors to the 2014 Pro Challenge traveled from. 

Denver, Colorado - home to the Denver Broncos football team, Denver Avalanche hockey team  Denver Rockies baseball team, the Denver Nuggets basketball team ... and the USA Pro Challenge! This is Peyton Manning territory, cowboy country, Colorado state capital, micro-brew heaven, home of the active lifestyle in a mile-high city (5280ft). With a population of 650,000 people, Denver can feel like a big city and a small town all at the same time.

Denver, Colorado is where I live.
Racing in downtown Denver by the Art Museum. Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®
Location of Denver in Colorado in the USA
Racing underneath the Denver Art Museum. Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®
THE FUN - in Golden, August 23
  • 9:00-4:00 pm - food trucks, exhibits and a beer garden in Parfet Park (10th and Washington)
  • Live race viewing on the Jumbotron in Parfet Park (10th and Washington). Watch the race end in Denver with a crowd of fans in Golden. 
  • 10:30 am - Women's Criterium start time
  • 11:30 am - Women's Criterium finish time
  • 1:10 pm - Men's Race Start time (departure to Denver)

THE FUN - in Denver, August 23
  • 11:00-5:00 pm - Festival in Civic Center Park
  • 3:45 pm - Estimated finish time (On Broadway, between 14 & Colfax)
Festival in Civic Center Park, Denver, USA Pro Challenge. Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®
The day a peloton races up Colfax. Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

Stage Schedule / Log Stage 7: streets and distances

Local City roads and State Highways Impacted by Stage 7: Road closures: CDOT (select tab at left) for USA Pro Challenge between Golden, Edgemont, Wheat Ridge and Denver. In Denver: avoid Speer Blvd from 32nd into downtown and the blocks around the capital building, Also 17th Ave will be closed between Grant and City Park (impossible to cross; use Colorado Blvd to go around).

Parking is free at all meters downtown on Sundays. 

Denver City and County Building at Civic Center Park. Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

Let's Talk VIP

Read more at: Should I buy a VIP ticket to the USA Pro Challenge? by Pedal Dancer®

Yes I would recommend buying VIP tickets. Why? The tent usually stretches along the length of the finishing stretch, you will get to see the rider pass twice AND you will not have to hold your place at the barriers all day. Also they serve great food and beverages under shaded tents, and the jersey presentation stage is nearby. I believe the purpose of VIP tickets is to afford ease of movement during the race. Don't just stay under the tent. The price however, is high, $250. Each.

Here is my tip: When it comes to VIP tickets - buy quality. Quality to me equates to visibility of the true race and need.
  • Buy Denver Finis! $250 (great atmosphere and placement on course, 4 laps), VIP tent location: on Broadway between 14th and Colfax. Very close to the final podium.
Fans watching the race live on TV in the park in Golden as the riders approach from Golden to Denver. Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

Where to watch the USA Pro Challenge bike race for Stage 7 in Golden and Denver


Watch the women's criterium at the top of Washington, at 18th and Illinois, or the final corner at 11th Washington. The area within 100 meters of the finish line is always exciting to see the final sprint and hear the announcers.

My recommendations on where to watch the women's criterium race in golden

For the men's race from Golden to Denver, the race begins in Golden and passes through town twice more before heading east through Arvada, Edgemont and Highlands into downtown Denver. In golden, much of the action will be centered around Washington Ave.

After the start, the northern loop around North Table Mountain Park will be done first before reentering to town and heading up the climb of Lookout Mountain. The switchbacks will be an excellent vantage point to see the peloton approach. Looping up and over the climb, the peloton returns once again to Washington St before turning right onto W 32nd Ave.

The north loop around

Two years ago I experienced a very exciting lap in the Media car around the course of the Pro Challenge through Denver to insure that I was offering the best advise possible to fans about where to see the race on race day. I can share first hand that it was super impressive to see the huge numbers of fans that lined the route.

This year you can expect two fast laps, with an even faster final meters to the line.

This will be the direction the peloton enters Denver. On 17th you will see them go in both directions.

The final circuit laps of Stage 7 in Denver will cover the same route as 2014.  If you attended the race last year in Denver, you might already have found your perfect place on race day. I have highlighted my recommended viewing areas, below.

The Expo festival area is located in Civic Center Park where race partner Sierra Nevada can be expected to have beer for sale. The open layout of the park allows fans to move freely and run from side to side to see the race on Colfax and 14th St. The finish line is very nearby on Broadway (but crowded by VIP tents).

If you find a way into the small corral on Colfax between the VIP tents and the Capital building -- in the middle of the street! -- you will be able to see the riders coming and going in both directions. No shade, no seating, no water, just good race viewing. You will also be close by to the podium presentation after the race.

Teh exposed area in the middle of Colfax where fans ran side to side to see the racers on both sides. Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

The restaurants and businesses that line 17th Street offer a nice base to see the race go by in BOTH directions along this long boulevard as the peloton races back and forth between the capital and City Park. You may find patios and shade trees and even portable bleachers set up on race day.

Sitting on bleachers set up under shade trees for comfort on 17th St.  Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®
City Park was filled with happy fans in previous years, who brought their own chairs and tents, coolers and banners, and set up hours in advance on the cool grass. The park has a number of corners; it is always great to witness the racers through fast corners.

Ride your bicycle to the Festival: bike valet will be available to hold your bike safely. Bring a lock just in case. Or take the RTD light rail into downtown and the free 16th St shuttle up to Civic Center Park.

Pedal Dancer recommended viewing locations for Stage 7 in Denver (click image to enlarge)
Pedal Dancer recommended viewing locations for Stage 7 in Denver (click image to enlarge).
Do you want to see the race in both Golden and Denver?

Will you be able to see the women race in Golden and the men race in Denver? Yes. Fortunately traffic is light on Sundays.

Will you be able to see the men's start in Golden and the finish in Denver? Yes. IF you pay attention to parking your car in an easy to exit location in Golden and maybe bring a bike to pedal the last blocks into Denver. Last year most of the parking close to the race was already taken by the time I arrived from Boulder. I parked, pulled my bike out of the car, pedaled to valet, handed them my bike and watched the race finish with plenty of time to spare.

Will you be able to ride the climb up Lookout Mountain and see the race in Denver? Yes. If you descend right away and park close to the base, ready to depart to Denver.

Will you be able to see the start in Golden and ride your bike to Denver in order to see the finish? Really? If the answer is yes, you are inside this professional peloton of world-class racers.

Who will win?

Remembering the day last year that I captured this image of Alex Howes (below), the winner of the final stage into Denver in 2014. Alex is competing at the Vuelta a Espana this year and will not be in Denver. Look for another light weight sprinter to win the stage.

Alex Howes won the stage in Denver in 2014. Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®
Race Standings - Men's race

Who is currently wearing the jerseys at the start of Stage 7? (Results after Stage 6)

Look for these riders in the classification jerseys:

Yellow: Smashburger Leader Jersey – Rohan Dennis (AUS) BMC Racing Team
Green: Lexus Sprint Jersey – Kiel Reijen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Team
Red: Sierra Nevada King of the Mountains Jersey – Rohan Dennis (AUS) BMC Racing Team. Will be worn by:
Blue: Colorado State University Best Young Rider Jersey – Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBR) Axeon Cycling Team
Orange: First Bank Most Aggressive Rider Jersey –Roman Kreuziger (CZE) of Tinkoff-Saxo
Dark Blue: Edward Jones Best Colorado Rider Jersey – Alexandr Braico (MDA) of Jelly Belly P/B Maxxis
Best Team: BMC Racing Team

Men's GC Standings after Stage 6 

1Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team21:33:33
2Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team0:00:44
3Rob Britton (Can) Team SmartStop0:01:31
4Gavin Mannion (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis0:01:49
5Lachlan David Morton (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis0:01:53
6Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Axeon Cycling Team0:01:58
7Lachlan Norris (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling0:02:02
8Toms Skujins (Lat) Hincapie Racing Team0:02:08
9Hugh Carthy (GBr) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA0:02:13
10Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek Factory Racing0:02:14

Top 3 Teams

1. BMC RACING TEAM (USA) 53:09:44

Race Standings - Women's race

Who is currently wearing the jerseys at the start of Stage 7?
Look for these riders in the classification jerseys:

Yellow (Smashburger Race Leader): Kristin Armstrong (USA) Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR
Green (Lexus Sprint): Tayler Wiles (USA) of DNA Cycling p/b K4
Red (Sierra Nevada QOM): Mara Abbott (USA) of Amy D. Foundation
Blue (Colorado.com Best Young): Abigail Mickey (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional
Orange (Strava Most Aggressive): Coryn Rivera (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Professional
Best Team: TWENTY 16 p/b SHO-AIR

Women's GC Standings after Stage 6

1.    Kristin Armstrong
2.    Tayler Wiles
3.    Lauren Komanski
4.    Abigail Mickey
5.    Breanne Nalder

Two yellows! Rohan Dennis, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge Shawn Hunter and Kristen Armstrong.


TV coverage of Stage 7: Pro Cycling Challenge on NBC Network

 Stage 7  8/23/2015  4:00 PM   LIVE Final!
Stage 7 (re-NBC)  08/24/2015  6:00 PM  Replay
    Media coverage at the race

    Press Conference Daily: Post race press conferences will be shown live on prochallenge.com
    Media Coverage of the race will be provided by: Velo News, Cycling News, Steephill.TV & VeloImages, The Denver Post, Pedal Dancer® and many local newspapers.

    Photographer and journalists tweets from the race (I will add more as I verify they are at the race, and tweeting): @karenrake (Pedal Dancer), @Eibhir, @butterflywriter (Pro Velo Passion), and
    Brian Hodes (@veloimages).
    Follow the race: USA Pro ChallengeFacebook | Twitter | Instagram
    To watch a replay of the race coverage, go to www.usaprochallenge/tourtracker

    Follow the Teams

    HISTORY - landmarks on route

    Denver Capital Building

    The Colorado State Capital Building in Denver is a Corinthian-style, gold-domed building intentionally designed in 1890 to resemble the national capital building in Washington D.C. Made of Colorado rose onyx quarried in the town of Beulah, Colorado, the building houses House and Senate Chambers and is centrally located in downtown Denver's business district. Free tours are offered M-F 10:00-3:00pm. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

    Lookout mountain - Pillar to Post

    The race again climbs Lookout Mountain this year - What is the story of the pillars?

    The stone pylon gateway was built and presented to the City of Denver in 1917, long before the area was heavily populated, by Finlay L. MacFarland, a prominent automobile dealer and member of the Denver Mountain Park's advisory commission. 

    One of two pillars at the start of the climb. Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®
    The rock pillars before the houses were built nearby.

    There was an old observatory atop Lookout Mountain from 1885-1940 (before the wind blew the tin dome off the building).

    Pedal Dancer® bike blog has been covering the race for five years, providing quick and easy spectator guides to each stage. Always considering the viewpoints and needs of spectators, tourists, cyclists, or straight-forward racing fans. I post stage results as well as inside stories from chasing the race. Read more education and stories about the race at Pedal Dancer® at the USA Pro Challenge

    Pedal Dancer® recommendations for Stage 7:
    1. Tip #1 - Golden: Be sure to visit the team bus area to see the mechanics working on the bikes or setting out the equipment for the riders before the stage starts. Activity around the team buses begins 1.5 hours before the race start. Look for your favorite riders and maybe watch a media interview pre race.
    2. Tip #2 - Golden: I like to get to a stage start early to locate the start/finish line, sign-in stage, large screen TVs, podium, festival, and team buses. I study how to easily move in between all these fun areas of the race.
    3. Tip #3 - Golden: Within 1 hour of the start (10:30), the riders will begin signing in at the announcement/sign-in stage. This is the time for autographs as the riders pass to and from the stage. Be near the stage to hear the rider call up to the line and the singing of the national anthem.
    4. Tip #4 - Golden & Denver: Walk around the festival area, or around town, and watch the race on the large screen TVs.
    5. Tip #5 - Golden & Denver: Return to the barriers to see the riders pass for another lap.
    6. Tip #6 - Denver: Walk close to the podium to watch the final podium award presentation, 15-20 minutes after the finish of the stage. In Denver, the stage is ON Colfax & Broadway. They usually open some gates to allow spectators to fill in the space in front of the stage.
    7. Tip #7 - Be comfortable! bring a little food or water, sunscreen and a hat. The temperature should be about 80 degrees on race day. 
    8. Tip #8 - Ride your bike. The event seems more festive when you arrive and depart on 2 wheels.
    Pedal Dancer® posts about the race in 2015:
    1. How to see Stage 1 of USA Pro Challenge 2015 - Steamboat
    2. How to see Stage 2 of USA Pro Challenge 2015 - Steamboat / ABasin
    3. How to see Stage 3 of USA Pro Challenge 2015 - Copper / Aspen
    4. How to see Stage 4 of USA Pro Challenge 2015 - Aspen / Breck
    5. How to see Stage 5 of USA Pro Challenge 2015 - Breck ITT!
    6. How to see Stage 6 of USA Pro Challenge 2015 - Loveland / Fort Collins
    7. How to see Stage 7 of USA Pro Challenge 2015 - Golden / Denver
    Pedal Dancer® - cycling near Golden and Denver:

    WE DID IT - Another year of the USA Pro Challenge was a success!

    beers in a row at River North Brewery.  ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®

    If you feel like celebrating (oh, and I do!), the best beers in Denver can be found at one of these fine establishments below:


    Stage 7 results

    (posted after the stage)

    Pedal Dancer® Guide Pages help you have a better vacation in Colorado. Follow me on Twitter as I run around inside and outside of the barriers and tweet from the race as @KarenRake see you there - Karen.

    18 August 2015

    Taylor Phinney's Big Win

    And we were all there to witness it

    Here I am, below, on Stage 1 of the Pro Challenge (blue vest, center) the first and solo photographer to be right where Taylor Phinney finally stopped his bike to meet his soigneur after winning the first stage of the 2015 USA Pro Challenge. How this day ended was pretty nice, getting there was a total unknown.

    We never know what to expect from a day, but we know we can always expect a good story from sport.

    As you may remember, I have my dog, Jack, here with me in Steamboat Springs. It was all quite  unexpected, when he was diagnosed (yet again) with Mast Cell Cancer. He had surgery last week and is healing well. Between taking photographs and meeting people associated with the race, Jack and I have been spending quality time frolicking on the shore of the local Yampa River. Yesterday I was with Jack on and off between shooting at the start and finish of the race.

    I'll say it, I was was nervous: not knowing how to manage Jack and moving around the race, plus hoping the outcome of the stage would be good for this race in general.

    The stage start was fun. Lots of smiles and fresh energy to get the week started. Nobody is yet fatigued, as groupings of driver meetings and police coordination meetings were held in the street in the early morning. Photographers met their moto drivers on day 1 and teams showed up an eager ten minutes early to sign-in. The general mood was let's get this thing going.

    Riders lined up, the national anthem was sung, and the swoosh of color stretched out as pedals were pressed and cranked - the racers and team cars were off. They raced slightly faster than expected. Kiel Reignen later stated that the three climbs and altitude were too much for many, but still there was a sizable, yet quite unorganized group heading for the line in the last 1 kilomtere of the final lap.

    That is when it happened.

    Taylor Phinney sped down the right side of the open finishing course with such speed he cleared the pack and crossed the line in solo amazement. The roar of the crowd was huge. All the talk before the race, never matters. This was the perfect win for Taylor, and for this race.

    And then I ran after him.

    Not wanting to be where everyone else is (as usual). I had studied the set up of the course and the finishing straight the day before. I had told the Media Coordinator I want to be back near the Carers. What? "I want a bib, I want to be behind the pods of photographers, in the back." Now even though I usually have a plan, I always have to fight for what I want on race day. Always. But I knew how the race would unfold and I knew where I wanted to be.

    I got my - wide shot of the scene at the finish line (with cowboy hat and tiers of fans) to convey what it felt like being there.

    And I got my - thrill when the post race five seconds of pain rush subsides and the winner just realized what he did. Typically that moment comes when he gets the care from his soigneur, and hugs of handshakes from his teammates. 

    Greeting Trudy his BMC team soigneur (Carer)
    That moment when pain and joy mix. This is the racer's high.
    Care and joy and thrill all in one moment of recognizing this is what team racing is about.

    I am thrilled for Taylor Phinney and his very meaningful win(s). Yellow!, Green!, Best Coloradan!

    Let me share with you what I observed yesterday: this racer now races from pure fun and joy. From the love of being able to participate at the highest level and compete with the very best. He plays on the bike, just like Peter Sagan plays. This trait is a stand out. This young man is back to becoming and being great.

    Brent Bookwalter said of Taylor Phinney yesterday in the post race press conference:

    “He really grew a lot emotionally and mentally. Before that, I valued his friendship and I valued his respect as a team mate, but I felt like we were not always on the same wavelength. He felt like the young crazy guy, he made me feel really old.”

    “His experience the past 15 months went a long way to help him relate and appreciate everyone, as well as value them and vocalize it.“

    Signing autographs for a happy family of BMC Racing.
    With his teammates before the stage start.
    With Peter Stetina (right) at the call-up.
    Being celebrated on the top step of the podium with Brent Bookwalter (2nd) and Kiel Reijnen (3rd)
    Congratulations on a glorious recovery and big win.

    You might notice Taylor's proud parents (Connie Carpenter Phinney and Davis Phinney) around at the race this week. Talk about two people who know bike racing very well. 

    My day ended with a hug smile at overhearing Kiel Reijnen talk about what really went down on course with Davis. After riding up to the post race press conference in the elevator with Brent Bookwalter, I rode down in the elevator, after, with Kiel. It was a nice. After the stage I sat by the cool flowing river with my dog to unwind and reflect. 

    One thing I know is how to move around at a bike race. Yesterday that learned skill afforded me many small adventures that make for great stories. Thanks to all the wonderful fans I met yesterday, you were the biggest part of the day.  I can't wait to see what happens today.

    Stage 2 Guide by Pedal Dancer®: How to see Stage 2 of USA Pro Challenge 2015

    And thanks to Anthony, a reader and now friend, who alerted me to my helicopter inclusion in the race (top photo). Fun.

    16 August 2015

    Let's talk about this race - Press Conference

    The annual Pro Challenge Press Conference was today

    Press Conferences are strange events where young men sit poised, and posed, awaiting questions they have answered before and will answer again. Although there may be no surprises, I do enjoy watching the interactions between the selected panel of riders almost more than I do listening to the predictable answers. What often appears in print are the tidy summations, what you don't get, is seeing the relationships between the competitors - the banter, jokes and true respect.

    There are certain guaranteed ingredients of any pro cycling press conference:
    1. Discovering which riders have been invited
    2. Noticing who is in attendance and where they are sitting or standing
    3. Observing the great stare fest
    4. Listening to tidy answers about who will win 
    5. Listening to riders acknowledging another teammate's or competitor's strengths
    6. Forgetting the question you wanted to ask
    7. Trying to see around everyone in front of you
    8. Visiting with fellow media when it is all over

    In attendance at today's Press Conference were CEO Shawn Hunter, Race Director Jim Birrell, Vice President - Lexus Marketing Brian Smith, Ted King, David Lozano, Davide Formolo, Rohan Dennis, Matthew Busche, Taylor Phinney, Chris Anker Sørensen, Kiel Reijnen, Dion Smith, with Steve Brunner officiating.

    As is tradition, Neal Rogers of Velo News sat in the front row right side, typing away on the keypad of his laptop. Susie Wargin of 9News sat front row left side. Pat Malach of Cycling News typically sits two to three rows back (probably for an easy escape - he asks the most controversial questions). Various cycling media were clustered in the center chairs, with race staff members leaning against the walls and photographers darting about the sides.

    I am never quite sure why they televise press conferences, because the riders sit partially obscured behind long tables in amazing stillness, coming in and out of deep trances. I hope someday when these pro racers retire, they return to a press conference to see what it looks like from our angle in the audience: two tiers of riders spacing out in unison.

    The great stare fest

    This is not still photography, they sit like this for an hour, graciously coming to life when asked a question. Often showing surprising humor before sinking back into a daze.

    Taylor Phinney has left the building
    David Lozano, dreaming of mountain biking
    Kiel Reijnen. Helloooooo
    Ted King resting
    Matthew Busche and Taylor Phinney looking at nothing. Nothing.

    They are not sad, bored or being disrespectful, they are simply elite athletes trained to rest whenever their body is not in motion. They eat, they sleep, they lay down with their legs up watching TV, when they are not getting massage or talking about training plans or team plans. They rest while awake. Imagine nine athletes all lined up in front of a room doing this. It is hard to know how to respond, whether to hold a smile on my face or join in on the stupor fest.

    What was talked about 

    Generally they all feel this is a very special race, they all think the competition will be good but do not quite know what to expect or whether someone will "animate the race on day one," as Matthew Busche shared. You bet, they have all studied the course, this is their job. There was some mention of the word "fun." I am not quite sure I understand their use of the word. To most of us, what these pro riders will go through in the next seven days would not be described as fun. If you are doing it right.

    Which brings us to one of the main topics of the afternoon - ALTITUDE. The great unknown factor on performance. They just do not know until racing begins. And yes, they worry about the challenge of time trialing at 9600 feet above sea level. Even if a rider lives or has raced at altitude, when someone else is challenging or expecting them to go faster - it is going to hurt. Matthew Busche explained that unexpected outcomes can happen on every stage of this race.

    Add to the altitude unknown, the always exciting fact that some teammates may not have even raced together this year. The last time they could have seen each other was at spring training camp, or perhaps not - there are quite a few stagiaires on the rosters for USA Pro Challenge in 2015. Those riders being tested out, a try-out of sorts necessitated by needing to fill the ranks. Pro teams are spread thin with riders expected at races in various countries to promote their sponsors. Considering injuries and fatigue, by fall season more riders are needed.

    The eight man teams formed for this race, were decided upon by the team's management and coaches. They attempt to build a balanced team, considering recovery time and race schedules, together with performance numbers. Will an athlete perform as expected and will they contribute to the team? Does this route fit them? Will they win a stage? Do they have a chance at winning the overall race? What are their plans for the remainder of the season? What about the races in Canada, the Vuelta, World Championships in Richmond, Virginia next month? These are answers made by teams and not by press conferences.

    What those sitting in the audience really wanted to here was "Yes, I intend to win this race."  What I was content in hearing, was a good joke and a seed of inspiration. Matthew Busche eloquently confirmed what I knew coming into this race - watch out for Stage 2!

    The Closing

    Before you know it, and just when you have decided that returning the coma stares with a broad smile would be the way to go, it is announced that one last question will be taken; at which point two people raise their hands. Don't worry, I wasn't one of them, because I fell into such a deep trance I forgot my question.

    All riders and dignitaries stood for a photo op and the one new photographer in town placed herself right smack dab in front of everybody in the room, obscuring lenses behind her to get her own photographs. And that was it, another opening press conference was complete.

    Shout out to Founding Partner (Sponsor) Lexus

    What was stated, but you might not see in print (whoops, it's in print): Ted King suggested that all retirees (that would be him!) should receive a Lexus (he being the only one). Brian Smith of Lexus laughed. I'm not sure if that was a yes, but if you see Ted cruising around in a new Lexus through his retirement years, you'll know the outcome.

    Which would you rather have in Colorado - this fine Lexus official car, or that RV?
    Brian Smith Vice President - Lexus Marketing and Shawn Hunter, CEO of USA Pro Challenge. Now accepting more sponsors.
    A 2-year lease on a Lexus NX 200 Turbo will be awarded to the overall winner of the mens and womens races. And maybe to Ted King.