Photo Credit: 303Photo
303Cycling joined a crowd estimated to be over 150,000 in downtown Denver yesterday to witness the final stage of the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Even before the cyclists rolled into town, the enthusiasm was strong despite high temperatures and the Colorado sun. Cycling celebrities were on hand such as commentators Phil and Paul, our own Dave Toll, Davis Phinney and Tyler Hamilton to name a few. The crowds made it important to pick a spot early as spectators some with homemade signs for their favorite riders lined up early. We parked it close to the finish line on Broadway and got ready to watch as the best in the world would ride by six times on the way to determining the winner.
Cheers went up even as the cars rolled through in anticipation of the lead group of four starting the first lap which included former Best Young Rider of the Tour de France in 2001, Oscar Sevilla. With two minutes plus over the peloton it was unlikely the break would succeed but you would not have known that from the encouragement of the crowd. Watching the peloton pass by next, you knew you were at a world class race as over 100 riders took a 90 degree turn onto Colfax at 30 mph. The decision hadn't been made yet to catch the lead group and it was hard to believe speeds were about to increase even further. Lap three the real chase had begun. The power created by the peloton is almost indescribable and you could literally feel the speed as it passed and created the only breeze felt that day. It's one thing to see it on television, it's quite another to be within inches of these riders.
The final sprint proved very exciting as Best Young Rider jersey wearer, 3rd in the GC, Teejay Vangarderen made a bold attempt to move further up on the podium. Ultimately Liquigas' Daniel Oss and Elia Viviani went one two for the stage. Levi Leipheimer was the overall GC winner and five Americans rounding out the top five.
Photo Credit: 303Photo
As the crowd was breaking up, the talk started about next years race. Rumors circulated that Andy Schleck has already said he would like to come back. And why wouldn't he? As the spectator next to me said, "I can't believe I was riding down Vail pass two days ago, hiked a 14'er yesterday and am watching a world class stage race today." Only in Colorado. Let's hope this race will continue for years to come.
Top 5 Stage 6
1. Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
3. Fred Rodriguez (USA) Team Exergy
4. Daniel Summerhill (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo
5. Frank Kevin Pipp (USA) Bissell Cycling
Top 5 GC
1. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioShack 20:00:24
2. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:00:11
3. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad 0:00:17
4. Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:00:21
5. George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:53