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

Stage 1 Timetable.pdf 

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®
http://www.aspenupcc.com local Aspen city race website.