Cyclists Throw Down the Gauntlet for Pro Challenge

Aug 18, 2013

The USA Pro Challenge kicks off in Aspen and Snowmass Village today. More than a hundred and fifty top cyclists will compete in the third edition of the race. Many explored the Roaring Fork Valley on two wheels this weekend... and all of them were within arm’s reach during Saturday’s opening ceremonies.

<<Robin Thicke, “Blurred Lines”>>

One of the summer’s top songs blasts from speakers, as last year’s dominating team struts down a red carpet. There’s a crowd gathered in Snowmass’s Base Village. Spectators make way... smartphones held aloft recording... as the riders from the Boulder team Garmin Sharp head for the stage.          

<<cheering>>

Garmin effectively took control of the race in 2012. And a memorable moment was when Tom Danielson came screaming into Aspen to win an early stage.

“Our team won the race last year with Christian Vande Velde to my left, he’s the defending champion, we have a stacked team to wreak some havoc and get up on the top step of the podium this weekend.”

Danielson is fresh from a win at the Tour of Utah.   There is also a lot of buzz over the presence of this year’s Tour de France champion, British national Chris Froome. Froome and his powerful Team Sky will be competing. On Saturday, well known cycling journalist Paul Sherwen chose to interview Froome... in Swahili.

Paul Sherwen: “<<speaking Swahili>>”

Chris Froome: “<<speaking Swahili>>”

Paul Sherwen: “He’s gonna to try and do what he can in this bike race, because I think he wants to [switches to Swahili]...”

Chris Froome: “<<speaking Swahili>>”

Paul Sherwen: "He’s gonna try, and get up to the top of the mountains."

<<cheers>>
 

Despite his Tour de France title, Froome, who grew up in Kenya and South Africa, has said he’s not sure he can win the race here. Like many riders, he’s adjusting the altitude. Young Slovak phenom Peter Sagan, arrived early in Aspen specifically to get used to the elevation. Yesterday, he told reporters...

“Yeah, I was here two weeks, before the race, and after three days I understand it’s very hard racing here. And... I dunno, I hope I prepared good.”

Boulder resident Tejay van Garderen placed a very close second in last year’s Pro Challenge. He wants a different result this year.

“We’re definitely taking this race seriously, we brought a really strong team, and we’d like to win it. That’s the goal.”

Van Garderen is married to Aspen local and former pro cyclist Jessica Phillips... and he says they may spend more time here. The couple now has a newborn baby.  Van Garderen’s plans for the next week... will be determined by his tenacity and strength... matched against some of the best cyclists in the world.