Monday, August 27, 2012

Large fan base at US Pro 2012. Perhaps the largest ever in the US?

On paper, today’s route looked no different than the others in the seven-day USA Pro Challenge. More tough climbs at high altitude. Just another day of racing in Colorado.

But as the crowds filled the streets of Golden and Boulder cheering, boisterous, and loud, everyone understood today was different. As the peloton passed through each small town and saw thousands of fans lining the route, each team knew today was special. And as the racers slowly climbed the slopes of Flagstaff Mountain with 30,000 people pressing in on all sides, everyone knew they were making history.

Today’s race drew the biggest crowds ever seen in North American cycling. Team Exergy Race Director, Tad Hamilton, clearly felt the thrill of the moment: “Amazing! Amazing roadrace! It was a blessing to be in that race.”

Exergy’s Serge Tvetcov had a front-row seat to the excitement as he rode most of the day in a 14-man break. Serge took maximum points fromt the first two sprints of the day, propelling him into fourth place overall in the points category.

The break began to come apart as they made their way up the slopes of Flagstaff Mountain. When United Healthcare’s Rory Sutherland attacked from the break, no one could answer him. He stayed off the front, giving him the stage win and the Most Aggressive Rider jersey.

In the battle for the yellow jersey, it was Levi Leipheimer of Omega-Pharma Quickstep who had the legs to pull away from the field in the final kilometers of the climb. He followed Sutherland to the top for a second-place finish and a nine-second lead in the General Classification. Jens Voigt of RadioShack continued showing his strength with a third-place finish, giving him enough points to take over the lead in the King of the Mountains competition.

With only 21 seconds separating the top four riders in the General Classification, tomorrow’s 9.5 mile individual time trial in downtown Denver will be a thrilling end to an already amazing week of cycling. NBC will begin live coverage at noon MDT.

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