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Art and Gabriel Neibrief are Sonoma County residents who are following the USA Pro Challenge. Their report on the cycling scene from Colorado is appearing on the PD’s Bicycling Sonoma blog this week.

Breckenridge, CO, Wednesday, August 22nd – We watched the start of today’s Stage 3 in Gunnison and then drove into Breckenridge to take a break from the action. Riders will arrive here Thursday after Stage 4 from Aspen to Beaver Creek for Stage 5: Breckenridge to Colorado Springs.

Approaching from the south, we drove north on Hwy 9. Riders will leave Breckenridge for Colorado Springs going south on Hwy 9 on Friday morning. They will have a 10 mile, Cat 1 climb leaving here over Hoosier Pass, cresting at 11,500 ft. followed by significant descents over the rest of the 118 mile stage.

When it comes to the climbing and altitude of the Rockies, Cadel Evans was asked about the effect on a rider’s performance in such thin air during the press conference in Durango just two days before the race began. Evans, who had won the Tour de France last year, simply said that “the idea is to reduce the suffering as much as possible.” This fierce, successful competitor had the humility and grace to be that open and honest with the press. His reply caused many of us in attendance to turn to one another and smile, acknowledging the honesty of his words.

We admire Evans, and there is a lot of affection for him among fans we have met.

When it comes to descents, these pros reach speeds of over 50 miles per hour, doing so with their wheels coming within inches of each other. They risk life and limb pursuing their passion. Pushing through pain barriers on arduous climbs and sprint sections on stages which last for several hours, they are the finest athletes in the world.

Many who have watched pro cycling have learned about the alliances that form among riders during a stage; they need one another’s help, trading off drafting to create a slipstream for one another. These alliances come and go depending upon several factors, including team competition. Irrespective of whether and to what degree alliances do form, respect for one another is always evident. For this race, Garmin Sharp and BMC are seen as the top teams.

At the end of Stage 3, this is how the USA Pro Challenge stands:

-Tom Danielson of Garmin Sharp, Stage winner and King of Mountains Leader

-Christian Vande Velde of Garmin Sharp, Overall Leader

-Damiano Caruso of Liguigas-Cannondale, Sprint Leader

-Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski of Bontrager Livestrong, Best Young Rider Leader

 

That’s all for now. We look forward to cycling the Breckenridge area on Thursday.

 

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