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“We had four guys in the front group today, and Julian is looking quite good, so I am satisfied. We didn’t know where or how our competition would be and today sorted that out. Yes, it’s only the first day, but Julian look...

Photo: Sirotti








18.08.2015 @ 15:00 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The first stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge began in typical fashion with a seven-man breakaway forming and gaining a significant lead, but in the final of two tough circuits in the rolling terrain surrounding Steamboat Springs chaos ensued as attacks flew left and right.


In the end, Trek Factory Racing arrived safely with four riders in a vastly reduced bunch, but not before having to emit a furious chase to close a dangerous move in the closing part of the race.


US Champion Matthew Busche was unsure a week ago if he would start the Colorado tour after crashing heavily in the Tour of Utah, but was able to hang tough and arrive with the skeleton group numbering only 42 riders. 


“It was hard, I had to really dig deep, especially in the end,” explained Busche. “On the very last climb I was dropped near the top, but I was with a group, and we were able to come back.


“Julian [Arredondo] was the only one of us in the front group, and there were some attacks from that before we got there that Julian couldn’t cover, and so we needed to take responsibility to bring that back. Both Leonardo [Basso] and Julien [Bernard] were really good today, and I think we rode well as a team. For me personally it was hard to be there, I had to try really hard, and we shall see how that affects me for the rest of the week. But I am just really happy to be back. I feel that I am missing a little bit for sure, but happy to be with the group in the end.”


When the peloton finally awoke and kicked into action in the second 79-kilometer loop, it was not long before the high-altitude combined with tough, undulating roads and swiftly carved riders out its backside. 


Colombian Julian Arredondo, accustomed to the thin air and a master of steep climbs, held top position all day, and only once was precariously isolated in the last part of a tough race. However, the team responded immediately and shut down a potential threatening situation.


“When the team pulled they made that decision themselves because we have no radios here and I was stuck behind dropped groups,” said Trek Factory Racing director Kim Andersen. “It took a while before I was allowed to move behind the front group and then I could tell them to keep going, but it was very good to see them take that decision.”


He continued, “We had four guys in the front group today, and Julian is looking quite good, so I am satisfied. We didn’t know where or how our competition would be and today sorted that out. Yes, it’s only the first day, but Julian looks very motivated. The team did well, only the one time we had to close a gap, and after that we were well placed.


“In the sprint the stagiaires were too far in the front too soon, already with one kilometer to go, but Julian made a nice sprint and he was seventh. It was a much better day than I expected.”


Two riders made a late bid for glory but were eventually caught back, before another solo flyer one kilometer from the end almost pulled out a surprise win from the disorganized bunch. 


However, it was the last attack that worked: Taylor Phinney (BMC) showed the cycling world he’s back from a near career-ending injury over a year ago, jumping with such force he handily took the victory.


Arredondo sprinted to seventh and Matthew Busche, Julien Bernard and Leonardo Basso arrived safely in the same time with the reduced front group.


If stage one is any indication, the seven-day race in the high mountains of Colorado will be a highly spirited and thrilling affair from beginning to end. 



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