27 August 2014

Pro Challenge reports from the road Stage 7 - Denver, Final Stage

The 2014 USA Pro Challenge finished the week in downtown Denver

The peloton was gathering on a sunny morning on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado. The Pros would shortly depart south bound to Golden, Colorado to race through downtown and up Lookout Mountain only to return again for more sprint points in town. Denver was buzzing with anticipation and would shortly witness full-gas Jens Voigt racing and a sprint finish determining the winner by fractions of a second.

Read about the Stage 7 start in Boulder
Pro Challenge reports from the road Stage 7 - Boulder by Pedal Dancer®

Read a previous post about the hill climb of Lookout Mountain:
Photos of the Day - Lookout Mountain by Pedal Dancer®

See photos and story of the final sprint finish in Denver on Sunday (great photos!):
Alex Howes wins the final stage of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge by Pedal Dancer®

See more photography from Stage 7 by Ryan Wallace:
Photos from Colorado - Photography of Ryan Wallace.

My day at the race - Denver

After watching the two laps around Boulder, I listened to Tour Tracker Live as I drove to Denver. I parked my car, rode my bike in (gave up on parking nearby) and happily handed my bike to the Lexus sponsored Bicycle Colorado operated bike valet lot volunteers. I walked into Civic Center Park to find lots of colorful people ready to watch a bike race. Of course I had to take a quick walk through the expo area for a few pieces of "free junk" (as I heard one child proclaim with great joy).

I had considered trying to get in a media car again as I had done last year (to verify my race viewing recommendations) but the scene was way too crazy and impossible this year. Fans packed Civic Center Park. Instead I headed exactly one block away where I found very nice courteous fans standing happily along the orange barricades with plenty of elbow room.

I watched as my fellow photographers began to pile up in a heap of camera gear. There they sat for hours waiting for one photo of the finish. Meanwhile I was busy recording my hometown on the Sierra Nevada beer map (photos below), moving about, chatting with fans, cheering really loudly for The Jensie, and getting shit upon by a bird. True story that last part, you can read about it here: Alex Howes wins the final stage of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge (with some great photos, if I may say so).


Stage 7 Results

First - Alex Howes (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp
Second - Kiel Reijnen (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Third - Michael Schar (SUI) of BMC Racing Team

GC Standings

First - Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team
Second - Tom Danielson (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp
Third - Serghei Tvetcov (ROM) of Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis

Jersey Winners

Yellow Smashburger Leader Jersey – Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team
Green Lexus Sprint Jersey – Kiel Reijnen (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Polka-dot Sierra Nevada King of the Mountains Jersey – Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) of Jamis-Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home
Blue Colorado State University Best Young Rider Jersey – Clement Chevrier (FRA) of Bissell Development Team
Orange FirstBank Most Aggressive Rider Jersey – Jens Voigt (GER) of Trek Factory Racing
Dark Blue Colorado National Guard Best Colorado Rider Jersey – Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team

Final General Classification (via Steephill.TV)
POL 4 MAJKA, Rafal (TINKOFF-SAXO) + 1:49

The big city - Denver

The Sierra Nevada map marked by color (beer choice) and pin (hometown) - national and international!

Thank you fans! There is something special about watching a bike race with fans. Somehow when they block your view it doesn't really matter, because it is about the experience, or rather, it is about having three more laps to actually see anything!!

The race - Denver

Jens Voigt and Ruben Zepuntke in the breakaway

Alex Candelario is also retiring
BMC staff were throwing more free junk to the fans in between laps

A mix of soigneurs and staff waiting for their riders to complete the race

A massive heap of photographers (and my friends)

TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED NEXT - please read this post with all finishing photos of Alex Howes Stage 7 win: Alex Howes wins the final stage of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge
Read more about this photo I (Karen at Pedal Dancer) captured of Alex Howes' near fall after the stage sprint.

This would be Jens Voigt's last race, seconds after the finish I ran toward the pack of people forming around Jens where the pro riders had come to settle on their bikes. I wanted to see Jens' face, look into his eyes.

I watched closely as Alex Howes, nearby, swung his bike around and came to a stop, I looked into Alex's face and saw a definite look of "f-What?!!!", it was almost as if he was in a different place in time and was trying to bring his brain back to the present. Nearly stumbling off his bike, he seemed not to know what to do for a brief second there on his own, then the mass of people hit and surrounded him throwing their arms around him repeatedly with huge hugs (and a awkward kiss by Tom Danielson). It became very real, he had just won a bike race.

I hope I always hold that image in my mind of Alex's lone expression just after his win. I hope I always hold in my heart the feeling of being there, two feet away, when Jens Voigt stopped racing.

Coming soon, podium, Jens farewell and some great photos by Ryan Wallace of RevLine Photo.


Did you miss any coverage - look back on the days of the 2014 race coverage by Pedal Dancer® here: USA PRO CHALLENGE

How to make me super duper happy - link to my post on Steephill.TV -- http://www.steephill.tv/usa-pro-cycling-challenge/. In my world Steephill.TV is cycling news, I visit Steephill.TV many times a week (sometimes many time a day) and Steve Hill added this link of his own accord. Thank you Steve Hill for including me. And thank you VeloImages Brian Hodes and Oran Kelly who regularly occupy this territory.