Reactions – USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage 2

Posted on 25. Aug, 2011 by in race, releases

At more than 130 miles, Stage 2, the epic Queen Stage of the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge, tested the riders strength and endurance as they traveled to unheard of heights on the route from Gunnison, Colo., to Aspen. The route, which included three KOMs and two sprint competitions, provided majestic views and tough competition that led to George Hincapie (USA) of BMC Racing Team taking the stage in front of roaring crowds in Aspen. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) of HTC-Highroad took the overall lead heading into tomorrow’s individual time trial in Vail.

Jersey Winners

  • Quiznos Leader Jersey – Tejay Van Garderen (USA) of HTC-Highroad
  • Nissan King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey – Walter Pedraza Morales (COL) of UNE-EPM
  • Smashburger Sprint Jersey – Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Team RadioShack
  • Sheets Best Young Rider’s Jersey – Tejay Van Garderen (USA) of HTC-Highroad
  • Exergy Most Aggressive Jersey – Andre Steensen (DEN) of Saxo Bank SunGard

Reactions

Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad).“Today was hard, it took a long time for the breakaway to get away and once it did we rode a pretty steady tempo up Cottonwood. It was a little bit sketchy coming down Cottonwood because the ground was wet and it was pretty cold through the descent. It was windy into Independence and legs were definitely heavy in the peloton. In Independence we definitely saw some of the Columbians attack early. People would attack and come back, then attack and come back. I got away with Levi and Christian and we ended up getting caught in the group and then it started pouring rain. Whoever had the courage to attack the corners in rain took it.”

On his confidence in his team. “I have a lot of confidence in my team. I don’t think it is the strongest on paper here, but once you have the Quiznos Leader Jersey you can see your teammates have a lot more motivation. They rise above and beyond the goal to keep the jersey and I expect that is going to happen here.”

On ascending Cottonwood Pass and Independence Pass. “I’m familiar with Independence, it is really gradual for the first 10 miles and the last five it kicks up a bit. I didn’t know what to expect, the reason I attacked is because I looked around and it looked like everyone was suffering. It was still a really big group, but I didn’t want to be in a big group heading into that crazy of a descent. I was surprised that I ended up by myself for a bit out there.”

On taking risks in the descents. “There is no big summit finish or big day that is really going to separate a lot of time, so you have to take time wherever you can. Levi, with all do respect, isn’t the strongest descender – he loses his nerve a little bit. I’m a bit stronger. When I saw we had a gap I just drove it.”

On the importance of the descent into Aspen. “I think the reason the descent was so decisive was because it was raining. Taking a corner in the dry as opposed to the wet is completely different. If you lose your nerve you lose a lot of time so maintaining confidence is key.”

On whether Independence Pass would be harder to race in reverse. “I don’t know if one side is harder than the other because either way you go it is gradual for a while and then gets steeper toward the end. It is really just the altitude and lack of oxygen that make it tough. I think a summit finish on top of Independence would be kind of cool, even though I understand why they have the race finishing in Aspen – it is really beautiful. Having the finish on top would be really cool, but the climb wouldn’t be easy from the other way, that’s for sure.”

On the Stage 3 Time Trial in Vail tomorrow. “I haven’t had a chance to ride the course; I was going to pre-ride tomorrow morning. It doesn’t require a whole lot of thought and it doesn’t seem too technical. There is no real recovery section so you have to pick your pace and go with it. You have to stay relaxed and stay focused, that is about all you can do.”

George Hincapie (BMC). “I thought I was in pretty good shape coming into this race, but I decided to eat as much this morning as I would for a World Cup, and I felt a lot better today. I saw a couple guys going and decided to bridge up to them. Once I saw Tejay come across I knew he and Tom Danielson were going to go for the GC and knew I had a great shot to win the stage.”

On the crowds at the top of Cottonwood Pass and Independence Pass. “I was surprised to see so many people up there because it’s so hard to get to and so far away from everything. It was wall-to-wall people up there and when I saw them all I appreciated it very much. People are really getting behind the race and supporting it, which is a great indicator for the future of the race.”

On getting his first win since Nationals two years ago. “These days for me it is either about motivation or I’m working for the team. Right now the biggest things that motivate me are the Classics, a National Championship and a big race like the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. It is bringing cycling to a new market that hasn’t seen the sport for a long time. You see the fans out there and it’s very motivational. It was nice to be able to finish in such a beautiful city with my hands in the air.”

On the Stage 3 Time Trial in Vail tomorrow. “Being so high up overall I’m definitely going to give it everything I have. I didn’t come into this race with the intention of getting the overall – I wanted to win a stage and I’ve done that. But given my placing I’m going to give everything. I heard the Time Trial is pretty uphill and it’s fast for an uphill Time Trial. I’m not going to just throw in the towel; I’m still going to do my best.”

On riders to watch. “Tejay is definitely motivated and he’s going to be hard to beat. Levi is riding super well and I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes right back up to where he was today.”

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