Monday, August 20, 2012

Durango to Telluride

The USA Pro Challenge (USAPC) started with a bang today. We started in Durango and wasted no time in starting the climbing as we tackled a short, steep climb up to Fort Lewis College immediately after the start. This first climb set the precedent for what was to be a hard day in the saddle. The field was split in multiple pieces after the first climb and descent back into town, and the pressure didn't stop as we tackled the second uphill section of the day as we left Durango. Although it was uncategorized, the 5km out of town was no easy task. During this climb, the first half of the break formed. As we crested the top of this "small" ascent, the field sat up; however, not everyone was satisfied, so several more guys attacked including George Bennett. This group eventually caught the front group, making 22, so we had Jens and George present.

Normally, this would be a great situation for us, but Garmin threw down the gauntlet today, managing to put four riders in the break. Two of them were gc threats for sure: Tom Danielson and Peter Stetina. This definitely created a unique situation. Personally, I was a little panicked, but I relied on the experience and knowledge of our directors and riders, particularly Chris, to gather a bit of calm. We know BMC has the strongest team here, and they have declared Tejay is here to win, so it was on their shoulders to take control. They asked (more like begged really) us for help, but we played hardball, refusing to put anyone in to help. They did get help from other teams who had missed the break, so they didn't have to ride their whole team, but they definitely had to expend some valuable energy.

At the end of the day, no damage was done by the very dangerous break, but a lot of energy was expended by the whole field. It was a continuous pace the entire day, more like motorpacing. By the time we hit the final two climbs of the day, everyone was pretty tired, and the tempo naturally thinned the field. There were a few attacks, but the field was mostly under control. We crested the last climb 15km from the finish with only Danielson and Stetina still off the front. We screamed down into Telluride, making the final catch about 5km from the line. From there, it was an uncontrolled run to the line. At the line, Tyler Farrar won easily, and we did damage control by not losing any time and having Chris do a good sprint for 9th, giving us a better car position for the upcoming, important stages. Tomorrow is the first real test of the race with a 4km climb to the finish in Crested Butte.


Scott K said...

No doubt Garmin will be pace setting today. Stick to their wheel and hopefully get a good ride to the finish. Keep your nose in their Matt you are riding very well! Good luck!

Ann Highum said...

I'm sure you don't remember me, but I recently retired as dean of students from Luther, and remember you from your cc days there! Joe Thompson is a good friend of ours, and several Norse follow your career. We are in Telluride, so were at the race finish yesterday. Looked for your number and for you, but weren't successful in finding you. Just know that a big share of that Norse spirit is with you in the next stages of the race!
Ann Highum