Wednesday, August 24, 2011
US Pro Cycling Challenge: Levi Leads After Stage 1
As I mentioned a few days back, the US Pro Cycling Challenge is underway in Colorado, and already off to a great start. The event got underway on Monday with a short 5.2-mile long prologue that was won by German Patrick Gretsch, who rides for HTC-Highroad and finished the course in just 8 minutes and 27 seconds. That time put him two seconds ahead of Christian VandeVelde heading into yesterdays first road stage.
Stage 1 was an altogether different beast than the short prologue. It was a 99.4-mile ride through the scenic Colorado countryside that include more than 8000-feet of climbing. It was a day in which the stars of the sport came out to play, as Tour de France winner Cadel Evans and third place finisher Frank Schleck rode at the front of the Peloton for much of the day. In the end however, it was American Levi Leipheimer who pulled away at the end, and took the stage victory, finishing seven seconds ahead of those two men, and four seconds in front of Sergio Luis Henao, who he overtook coming down the stretch.
Today's Stage 2 is expected to be one of the toughest of the entire race. It is 131.1 miles in length and includes more than 9745-feet of climbing. In fact, the riders will face two major summits along the way to the finish line in Aspen, each of them more than 12,000-feet in height. So far, the race has been living up to is billing as the having the most altitude of any race in history.
The overall standings look promising for American riders at this stage of the contest. Leipheimer is in first place, 11 seconds in front of VandeVelde and Tejay Van Garderen. Evans is holding down the 4th spot right now, with a host of riders less than a minute off the pace.
The race comes to and end on Sunday with a ride into Denver. It looks like it should be a highly competitive race all week long, and it certainly is open for anyone to win at this point.