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Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare) out-sprinted Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp) in Aspen to win stage 1 of the USA Pro Challenge.
The two young Americans — actually close friends in their adopted hometown of Boulder, Colorado — made a daring escape on the final rise into Aspen. They jumped across a small gap to Javier Megias (Novo Nordisk), who made a solo move moments earlier.
“There was a group on our heels; we couldn’t hesitate,” Reijnen said. “I threw up in that last kilometer, Alex said, ‘Come on Kiel!’ But I was just trying to breathe. [In the] last turn, we were both committed; it was just a matter of whoever had the kick.”
Howes led out the two-man sprint on the final, straight drag in downtown Aspen, but he couldn’t match Reijnen’s turn of speed.
“I train with Kiel pretty much every day,” said Howes. “I knew he’d be a good rider today. Honestly I had questions about myself, pretty much full-on since spring. It’s been a long season. To be honest, mentally, I’m losing it [laughs]. Physically it’s in there, it just takes a bit of digging. When I looked back and saw Kiel there, I figured it was 50/50; when we’re training and sprint against each other, that’s how it usually comes out.”
The early breakaway was initiated by Danny Summerhill (UnitedHealthcare). He was soon joined by Joshua Berry (Team SmartStop), Johnathan Freter (Jelly Belly), Ben Jaques-Maynes (Jamis-Hagens Berman), and Greg Daniel (Bissell Development Team).
Another group of three then bridged to the leaders, and it included Lachlan Norris (Drapac), Matt Cooke (Jamis-Hagens Berman), and Luis Davila (Jelly Belly).
As the break approached Aspen to complete the first circuit, Berry was dropped, and the front group had a 1:35 advantage over the peloton.
Cannondale began to work at the front of the field to manage the gap.
Summerhill won the first bonus sprint in Aspen, attacking out of the break. Davila earned second-place points, and Daniel was third.
With two laps to go, the peloton was only 1:15 behind the leaders.
Norris won the day’s first king of the mountains sprint in Snowmass, with Davila second and Jaques-Maynes taking third.
On the second KOM sprint, Norris again took maximum points, followed by Jaques-Maynes and then Cooke.
Heading into the second intermediate sprint in Aspen, the break’s lead was down to 55 seconds.
Summerhill took the bonus points at the line in Aspen, followed by Freter and Jaques-Maynes.
Jaques-Maynes attacked with 15 miles remaining, as the peloton was bearing down on the break, only 25 seconds behind. He rode across the KOM line at Snowmass alone, adding to his tally in the mountains classification.
The lone leader’s advantage held steady around 25 seconds, but then it extended to 35 seconds as earlier breakaway riders were absorbed by the peloton.
An attack-filled finale
Jens Voigt (Trek Factory Racing) then attacked out of the field and bridged across to Jaques-Maynes, but the peloton was close behind and ended the Jamis-Hagens Berman rider’s escape with 5.7 miles to go. However, before the catch, Jaques-Maynes was able to win the final KOM sprint and secure the leader’s jersey in that competition.
Voigt carried on, a mere 10 seconds off the front of the group.
With 4.4 miles to go, a strong effort by Garmin-Sharp, at the front of a greatly reduced main peloton, brought back the German.
Ben Hermans (BMC) attacked the field with 3.4 miles remaining, initiating the hostilities in the front group. He was quickly brought back, as Garmin-Sharp continued to control the pace.
“BMC had a lot of cards to play there,” Howes said. “They were kind of messing around to put a little pressure on us. We were in a fortunate position where we could kind of hang back. … That’s racing. Sometimes you bluff, sometimes it punches you in the face, and sometimes it works out.”
On a slight rise heading into Aspen, Javier Megias (Novo Nordisk) took a stab with a solo move, gaining a slight advantage on the tree-lined streets.
Then, Reijnen and Howes went across the gap as the leader saw one kilometer to go, with Reijnen driving the pace into the final 750 meters.
Howes made his move before the final corner, entering the last right-hand bend ahead of his companion, but Reijnen was right on his wheel.
With the remainder of the peloton breathing down his neck, Reijnen jumped and never looked back, crossing the line with one arm in the air, and the other on his heart.
“Every one of my teammates should be up here [on the podium],” said Reijnen. “They felt I really had a chance today. It was motivating for them and motivating for me. I owe this victory to them.
“The day went to plan. Danny was in the break. I had a feeling Cannondale would take the front, but it seemed [Elia] Viviani was having trouble with the altitude. With them on the front they will sag the climbs [go slower]. We could only let that happen for so long before we stepped in to make it hard. I asked Chris Jones to keep the pace high to keep sprinters off. Danny came back [from the breakaway] and did an amazing pull to take me into the bottom of the left-hander at Snowmass. Once Chris split off, I had Lucas with me. [Of the] 25 guys there, I knew I was the fastest guy.”
Reijnen will wear the leader’s jersey tomorrow on stage 2′s 105-mile ride from Aspen to Crested Butte.
The post Kiel Reijnen wins USA Pro Challenge stage 1 in Aspen appeared first on VeloNews.com.
ASPEN, Colorado (VN) — Keegan Swirbul.
Ringing any bells?
When he was 16, he beat Lance Armstrong in a mountain bike race in Aspen, and was hailed as something of a revelation.
He’s 18 now, and since that moment, things changed. At this moment the rangy Swirbul is draped over his top tube, waiting for the USA Pro Challenge to begin in his hometown.
“Without that whole deal I would have never been here. I owe it all to Lance. He talked to Axel [Merckx], and Axel gave me a shot, and here I am. Especially in this town that’s kind of the reputation I have,” Swirbul said, his shocks of his blond hair sprouting out of his helmet.
“It’s crazy, man. I remember when this race first came here. And I was just like, dang,” he said. “Riding against them? It’s just a dream come true, man.”
It’s the first true road season for the Bissell Development Team rider, meaning that no matter how big the engine, it’s usually running in the wrong place and using too much gas.
“Huge engine. Huge engine. I think it’s just more like trying to steer it in the right direction,” Bissell director Axel Merckx said. “He’s really young. Really green. Coming from the mountain bike world, the first year on the road basically ever. He’s got to learn from scratch. He’s got to learn it all. All I can say, he’s got a huge engine. He’s super talented. … It’s going to take two, three years, whatever it’ll take. But the heart’s there.”
If anyone would know that, it’s Merckx. After a solid career as a pro, he’s worked with young riders at Bontrager-Livestrong and now Bissell. He’s tutored Nate Brown (Garmin-Sharp) Joe Dombrowski (Sky), and Lawson Craddock (Giant-Shimano), to name a few. All that’s great for Swirbul, and will pay off, but there’s no way around the very simple truth that in this moment, he’s going to have to figure it out the hard way. Knocked off lines, out the back. Wherever he is, he’s fighting for it.
“Everywhere except the climbs it’s crazy for me. Once you get to the climbs it’s straightforward, and you just send it. It’s the positioning. The crashes. The scary downhills and that stuff. It’s treacherous. But I’m getting used to it,” Swirbul said. “Just riding in the bunch. Not being nervous all the time and wasting energy. Gripping my bars really hard. Holding a position. If I try to go to the front, I just suddenly find myself at the back again. It’s just really hard for me to stay up there.”
Omer Kem, also a director at Bissell, said any pressure one of his young riders feels comes from within the rider himself, and that Bissell doesn’t lean too hard too soon. “He’s nervous. But I think it’s a good anxiety. There’s really no pressure, this program. There’s no pressure from us for these guys,” Kem said. “It doesn’t really matter if it’s hometown race or not. Any pressure he has comes from racing in front of his family and friends and all that.”
Swirbul put college on hold, and will try to make a go of it in the road world. Maybe move somewhere warm and stop skiing all winter.
“The plan is to try and move this winter to someplace warm, cause I didn’t really bike that much this winter. I just skied a lot. So that was kind of hard,” he said. “So hopefully I’ll be able to get to California or Spain or somewhere where it’s warm and I can do better training. No college for the time being, and just try and make it to next level.”
And with that, he was off, to continue his education, nudge by nudge and inch by inch.
The post Once just ‘the kid who beat Lance,’ 18-year-old Swirbul takes USAPC start in hometown appeared first on VeloNews.com.
ASPEN, Colorado (VN) — American Ted King has not yet signed a contact for the 2015 season.
After four seasons racing in Liquigas and Cannondale lime green, the New Englander is seeking a new home as his Italian program closes up shop at the end of the season.
Rumors have swirled around a merger between the riders and staff of the existing Cannondale and Garmin-Sharp squads, which could, hypothetically, land King, an American rider, onto an American team.
Garmin team manager Jonathan Vaughters told VeloNews Monday that he hoped to have some sort of official announcement about the future of the Slipstream Sports program this week, but would not reveal specifics.
Asked Monday in Aspen if he might be wearing argyle next year, King was evasive with his answer.
“I have not signed a contract for 2015,” King said. Asked how he is feeling about the uncertainty, he answered, “I’m very at peace — with everything.”
King has spent his time at Cannondale in a domestique role, often riding as part of Peter Sagan’s leadout train. King started the Tour de France in 2013 and 2014, but was forced to abandon both times due to injuries.
Asked if he would be racing next year, King smiled, “I cannot confirm nor deny that. I would like to be racing next year. That’s what’s fun about cycling … You never know what’s going to happen. Time will tell.”
Sagan has signed with Tinkoff-Saxo for 2015, and Italian Ivan Basso, also a Cannondale rider, is rumored to be signing with Tinkoff as well.
ASPEN, Colorado (VN) — Twelve weeks after a horrible accident at the U.S. national road championship that broke his leg and severed his patella tendon, Taylor Phinney is back in BMC Racing kit, riding with his teammates, at the USA Pro Challenge.
Though he’s far from being race fit, Phinney joined his BMC teammates in Aspen for a training ride on Sunday, and was in his BMC team kit outside the team bus before Monday’s stage start. He’s been back on the bike for several weeks, though he admitted that he’s probably riding much harder than he should be.
“I’m just here for moral support, man,” Phinney smiled. “I’m here for the laughs, to bring the mood up. I think the guys like having me around, and I like being around them. I got to ride with them yesterday. I rode way too hard, but sometimes the pain is worth it. I did a lap [of the stage 1 circuit], but I held on to the car most of the time. When we were rolling out of the parking lot, I attacked, downhill, but then I was quickly swept up.”
“You don’t really realize how much fitness you lose. I haven’t really trained in three months. You just think that you have all this natural talent, and then you go out riding with these guys, who are at peak fitness, and you’re like, ‘Did I used to be that fast? I don’t remember being that fast.’ It was pretty special for me. It was something I’ve been looking forward to for a while. I really wish I was racing… but I try not to think about that. The stage in Boulder starts right in front of my apartment, so I’m excited about that.”
- since the flyer on UFD is from last year, i guessing the start times are the same? 10am for marathon?
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- The 2014 USA Cycling Masters Track National Championships kick off tomorrow in Washington.