It begins by figuring out where the race is, what the terrain will be like and then studying the rosters. Followed by nervous guessing of who will be the strongest on each stage. Who looks good heading into the start and who will falter in the mountains. This race will unfold over days, but sometimes you can see in a rider's eyes, or stature, whether they have shown up for a race fully prepared both physically and mentally.
Nerves show in the eyes and in the shoulders. Maybe even in the gait of the walk. Of course the stats matter too: who has done well at this altitude in the past, who has done well this season, and who has a lot to prove for contracts next year. This race means a lot to the racers in it: the young men who have been given a chance to prove themselves, and also to the (relatively) old Ted King who is making this race his last in the United States. Farewell Ted, it has been fun.
Last evening, at the opening Team Presentation in Steamboat Springs, we got our first glimpse of the competitors. I spent the night learning new faces and matching those faces with their palmares to learn even more about the riders I am unfamiliar with racing in this year's USA Pro Challenge. I am excited to watch a new crop of riders race, to see opportunities taken and hard victories fought.
The best part of the evening was watching the teams approach the back stage area and pass each other in lines giving low fives in a row, as if they were at a basketball game. Slap slap, hug - as they would embrace friends on other teams they had not seen in awhile. As Phil and Paul spun tales and earned laughs on stage, the riders were happy to be with their newly formed squads of eight back stage.
A local who was kind enough to watch my dog Jack at her home during the ceremony, commented how exciting it was to actually see Phil Liggett on stage in Steamboat, the voice we all wake up early in the morning to every July. I enjoyed being reunited with the photographers whom I now call friends and get to see at various races: Oran, Mary, Darrell, Brian.
Some photos to share from yesterday:
|Raise your hand if you get excited (not afraid) when you see this sign.|
|This is what it is like to ride your bike on the road with the pros of Tinkoff Saxo. It is worth coming early for this experience.|
|Watching the teams out training today on the course of Stage 1. I believe this is Evan Huffman of Team SmartStop with his now long hair.|
|"I'll tell the jokes," Phil Liggett said, until Taylor Phinney got on stage and had everyone laughing.|
|Respect for Taylor Phinney. Great to see him back racing in Colorado. with Rohan Dennis|
|BMC Power team in Colorado this evening Sevenpelicans (Jackson Stewart), jim ochowicz, Fabio Baldato, and team owner Andy Rihs at the |
|Rohan Dennis commented about this tweeted photo: I swear Caruso Damiano looked like Manuel Senni this morning |
|The calm confidence of Brent Bookwalter of BMC Pro Team|
|Current National Champion Road Matthew Busche with a thrilled public relations representative from Steamboat.|
|Being in Steamboat Springs makes me want to go out and buy a pair of Cowboy Boots. These were seen at the Team Presentation.|
|The Cycling Academy bikeGEEEEKS on stage at the Team Presentation|
|Emerson Oronte signs the Pearl Izumi I will endure I will enjoy board. Team SmartStop|
|Lars Michaelsen, Sport Director of Tinkoff Saxo in Colorado|
|Australian Adam Phelan at the Team Presentation last night Drapac Cycling|
|You know I couldn't resist - Cycling Legs - Drapac Cycling|
|Dutch stagiaire Jasper Bovenhuis (Nl) #33 for Cannondale-Garmin|
|It was michael schar of BMCProTeam who reached the top of Independence Pass first from the Aspen side in 2013|
|Backstage watching Brian Hodes of veloimages get his shots of TeamHincapie|
|Caja Rural-Seguros RGA|
|Five of the riders of Team Novo Nordisk|
|Lexus cars are used for many of the teams during this stage race|
|And this about sums up road tripping in Colorado|
|This is the landscape of Stage 1 on Monday|
|Fun laughs at the end of the evening with Darrell Parks, Brian Hodes and Mary Topping as these great photographers tried to capture a rainbow behind the landmark Rabbit Ears Motel sign. Notice the advance photography equipment in use.|
|Tubing on the Yampa River. What to do when you are not wearing lycra|
|I continue my road trip with my labradoodle Jack Denny ....|
|I just watched the train roar past as I uploaded these photos.|