The Biggest Names in Pro Cycling Share their Thoughts on the USPCC

Just two days before the start of the 2012 US Pro Cycling Challenge, many key riders got a chance to share their thoughts about racing at altitude, Colorado fans, the Olympics, recovering from injuries and beating American riders on American soil at today's USPCC Press Conference:

Taylor Phinney (USA)
BMC Racing Team

On riding in the London Olympics:
“The Olympics were great. Two fourth place finishes is sort of a bittersweet place to finish up. As a country, I think we really finished up really well there.”

On the USA Pro Challenge:
“I’m excited for this race. This is my home race. I missed it last year. I was just struggling in the Vuelta a Espana. I would go to bed and just be crying watching these guys in the USA Pro Challenge. I’m excited to be here and pay back my friend Tejay for the outstanding work he did in the Olympics. We have a great team here. This is a great opportunity for us and for me. I’m so so happy to be here.”

On his Colorado roots:
“I am Colorado born and bred, but I haven’t raced in Colorado in four years or so. To come back is really fabulous. On the way here, we were just looking up at the mountains thinking, ‘these are awesome.’ I’m excited to support Colorado at this race. And hoping to do really well and get that BMC jersey to the top step of the podium.”

On his goal for the race:
“The last day is going to be a spectacle and the distance is going to be perfect for me. I’m really targeting that day.”

Tejay van Garderen (USA)
BMC Racing Team

On his racing in July:
“July was a fun month. It went better than I could have imagined. It’s one of those things...it’s fun now that it’s over. Even during that month I had in the back of my mind that I still wanted to be fit and ready for the USA Pro Challenge because it’s my hometown race.”

On the race last year and goals for this year:
“I think the crowds and the organization blew everyone away. I was motivated last year as well. I remember when Levi took the jersey off me last year...it was pretty emotional. I’m hoping to pull it off this year and maybe take the jersey home. I’m going to fight here for the victory”

On his schedule:
“I had a pretty busy schedule from April through the Olympics, which is why I decided to skip Utah. I love that so many American races are getting bigger.”

Tom Danielson (USA)
Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda

On what it’s like to be back here in Durango:
“As we all know, this is really my hometown. I started my cycling career here at Fort Lewis. I grew my cycling career here with the community. And just being here with the race start is just amazing! I’m blessed to be part of this Durango community.”

On his injury at the Tour de France:
“July sucked. That’s bike racing. That’s our sport. That’s what we do. We’re addicted to the challenge. Levi was a big motivation to me and just seeing how he overcame his injury. You have to give it everything.”

On the USA Pro Challenge:
“I love this race. I love Durango. I love Boulder. I love everything in between. We are ready to give it all and kick some ass. This is what we do as bike riders. We pick ourselves up and get it done.”

On the varying degree of climbs in the race:
“Initially when you look at a climb you think nothing is going to happen on the short ones and the long ones will be difficult. You have to know your limits. I think the short climbs will be decisive. The level of riders that we have here with the first guys punching it at the front, they will take everyone to their limit. Flagstaff is going to be nasty. Altitude does crazy stuff.”

Christian Vande Velde (USA)
Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda

On what the race means to him:
“Just having the opportunity to race this caliber race in U.S., let alone at home in Colorado means a lot to us. We always dreamed of this as young and even older professional riders. Judging by last year, I can’t even dream of what this year will bring us. You always want to do well on your home soil.”

On the team:
“We have great depth to our team and we have a few other tricks up our sleeves. Pete Stetina is looking pretty good. The team is looking forward to the race and hopefully we’ll have as much success, if not more, than last year.”

On decisive points in the race:
“I think the race is going to be nickel and dimed throughout the whole thing. For sure Flagstaff is going to be brutal, but it just depends on how the race plays out.”

Levi Leipheimer (USA)
Omega Pharma-QuickStep

On the inaugural USA Pro Challenge:
“Last year was fantastic. You could really feel that Colorado has been bursting at the seams for a race of this caliber for 23 years, since the Coors Classic. People just came out with all that enthusiasm. Last year’s race was epic. It was awesome. I’ve been looking forward to it ever since we finished that memorable day in Denver last year.”

On his most memorable moments from the 2011 race:
“There were a lot of great moments last year, but the Vail time trail was so special. I read about that time trial when I was 13 years old (Coors Classic). That was a very emotional day. It’s hard to pick out one moment though.”

On his recovery:
“Any injury is difficult to come back from. That was one of the hardest in my career. You have no choice but to work as hard as you can and come back as strong as you can. I feel good and I’m looking forward to racing here in Colorado.”

On the route this year:
“It’s going to be difficult and it’s daunting because there’s not a lot of opportunities to gain time, but there is a lot of opportunities to lose time.”

Cadel Evans (AUS)
BMC Racing Team

On coming to the USA Pro Challenge:
“Last year I came to the inaugural race for two reasons – I’ve raced a lot in Colorado. It’s been 18 years since I first visited Durango. Also, I just thought it’s a great place to have a race. It fits so well in the world of cycling. I was excited to see it work so well last year. I’m more than happy to come back again this year.”

On racing at altitude:
“One of the biggest difficulties to those of us coming from Europe is coming over here and adapting to altitude, but fortunately we have Tejay who lives here. I’ve been over here for a week to train and trying to minimize the difficulties. I don’t think you can eliminate them on this kind of course, but I want to minimize them as much as possible.”

On beating the Americans:
“With bike races, we want to win whenever we can. There are only so many days to prepare, but we’re bike racers so we want to win wherever we can.”

Vincenzo Nibali (ITA)
Liquigas-Cannondale

On Colorado and the race ahead:
“This is the first time that I have been to Colorado and I am pretty happy for the welcoming I have received so far. I arrived a few days ago for small training camp. I think it’s going to be a good race with strong riders and it’s going to be ok.”

On the altitude:
“It’s difficult for the Europeans to ride at these elevations for this week.”

On the team:
“We have a really strong team here. It’s young, but strong. The team is really strong and we expect a good race here.”

Jens Voigt (GER)
RadioShack-Nissan-Trek

On what makes the USA Pro Challenge special:
“It’s the warm welcome from the fans and I continue to be surprised by how far they’ve traveled. There are people here from Florida, and that’s not exactly around the corner. Last year up on Independence Pass, they were stands a few lines deep. It was a goosebumps feeling with people yelling at you and cheering.”

On his team:
“We brought a good team here. We have Matt Buche, who just finished second in the Tour of Utah, we have Chris Horner. I think we probably have somebody for each position. We don’t expect too many sprinter finishes, which is why we didn’t bring a sprinter. I wouldn’t say we feel intimidated, but look at the team that BMC has up here. There are a whole bunch of great riders and great teams here.”

On retirement:
“That’s not in my vocabulary. Sorry.”

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