17 August 2014

USAPro reports from the road - Aspen Weekend, Team Presentation

Pro Challenge Opening Ceremonies at Snowmass Base Village

This is the fun part. I really enjoy the hype and excitement before a big stage race begins. No, I am not one to ask the overused, worn out, we can do without question of who will win. I actually wouldn't want to know ahead of time, even if we did have a chance at knowing. I like the suspense of competition. I like the idea that every athlete lines up with huge hope and belief, and then some are shattered and others left victorious. This is sport.

What I also really like about the opening weekend of any stage race is that fatigue hasn't set in yet (or, rather reality hasn't set in yet). Faces are bright and shinny, energy levels are high, health is good. Friendly hellos are easily exchanged, it is like a family reunion of choice and great fun to see everyone again. I like seeing the organizers in their lets-not-appear-totally-frazzled state. I like seeing the hard working mechanics. I like seeing all the usual faces of the media. I really like seeing my own friends for a quick hello or a slow drink on a patio.

I also like to notice which riders are still or are finally in good form. There is a look about a rider who is at his best to race. Some riders come to help their teams, some because it was on their calendar, some because being in Colorado is a much desired part of their season. But a few, and only a few, come with all the stars aligned, and in a way, you can sort of see it in them. This is what makes being up close and personal with a bike race truly exciting. Because I want it to happen for that rider. I feel their anxious unknown and I wish them great success.

Tonight we got our first glimpse of all the teams and riders who will compete in the 2014 USA Pro Challenge.

When you see Phil Liggett you know a bike race is in town
Outdoor team presentation in Snowmass Village
Shawn Hunter and Paul Sherwen start the opening ceremonies
Jamis enters through the crowd
Jelly belly legs
Hincapie Development Team
Eric Marcotte is the current US National Champion Road, he races for SmartStop and you will see him in the red white and blue jersey
Team Novo Nordisk
United Healthcare
The all Australian team Drapac
Leopold Konig
Ivan Basso - so cool
Elia !
Garmin Sharp
Majka's legs

And then I got to ride back up the gondola with Matthew Busche, who jumped into the gondola last minute, he had us all laughing for the length of the ride back to upper Snowmass Village. Fun!

Each rider got a gift of a backpack of goodies and then the teams loaded gondolas back to their hotels and condos in upper Snowmass Village
Of course I then closed out the evening by giving directions to varying bars and restaurants to team staff scented with cologne with great accents. I love being at a bike race.

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

Always fun when local papers write about the sport of cycling

The unique choice of words writing award of the week goes to David Pico of the Colorado Springs Gazette for his choice of combining "blood-vesseled faces strained":
"If you cross a downtown street at the wrong moment next week, you might be blindsided by a stampede of the world's greatest cyclists, all with blood-vesseled faces strained at top speed."

Tomorrow's activities in Aspen:

9:00am-12:00pm Teams training on local roads
12:00-5:00pm Aspen Finish Line Festival at Paepke Park downtown Aspen
2:00pm Official opening Press Conference, closed to the public but streaming online
5:00-7:00pm Aspen Sprint Challenge downtown

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