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|
|The all Australian team Drapac|
|Ivan Basso - so cool|
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|
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®