US Pro Cycling Challenge. Post-Utah prognosis.

Tom Danielson. Colorado kingpin?

And now cycling fans, 0n the the second half of the show. The Tour of Utah is done and dusted and after a short week-long intermission, the US Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado fires up.

We’re going from the self-billed “American’s Toughest Race” to “America’s Race.” Don’t worry about the confusion, it’s all just marketing hype. Neither of these two should be confused with the Tour of California which calls itself “America’s Greatest Race.” Thank God, they put America in there or who knows what kind of geographical confusion could happen.

The Rumble in the Rockies begins in Durango next Sunday and based on Utah, the GC battle is getting even more intriguing.

BMC’s new boss

Johann Tschopp won the overall in Utah but you have to think the red and black are 100% behind Colorado resident Tejay Van Garderen. 4th in the Tour of Cali and 5th in the Tour and 3rd last year in Colorado, it’s time to go top odium step. His Tour de France captain Cadel Evans will be there but we figure he’s just riding for exercise and an appearance fee. But you never know — champions like to win “something” and Evans hasn’t had much to celebrate.

Garmin-Sharp Barracuda

Garmin always has the “plenty of cards to play” and you never know who the jokers really are. Vande Velde had his shot in Utah and held the jersey a few days but faded on the Queen and King stages. So it would seem that perhaps local boy Tom Danielson gets the call.

Liquigas-Cannondale

New US Road champ (and Boulder resident) Timmy Duggan was aggressive in Utah, hitting the breaks and putting up a strong fight for the climbers’ jersey. Didn’t get it but came close. Our question is, was sup Vincenzo Nibali? Twisted SPoke is dying to see the Shark ride for little Timmy. Will it happen?

The Lime Green boys dominate sprint finishes in California and Colorado –taking three stages in last years inaugural Pro Cycling Challenge. But this year no Sagan, no Viviani, not even Daniel Oss. We’re guessing that means chasing stage wins but maybe Duggan is ready for the GC battle — home roads and knows how to handle the altitude sickness.

Omega-Pharma QuickStep

Levi Leipheimer crushed the king stage in Utah and it not for the disastrous team time trial, would perhaps have won the overall in the Larry Miller Thriller. On form and probably ticked off he could’t repeat in Utah, he has every intension of matching his win last year in Colorado. He’s only five guys to help but the old man is motivated. Plus he’ll have his personal physiologist Allen Lim there with every recovery trick in the book and those fabulous Scratch Lab sports drinks. Levi admits the American young guns are knocking the door down now but the early line has him on the podium somewhere.

RadioShack Nissan Trek

For a team that’s been a mess all year it’s ironic they have three of the biggest fan favorites: Jens Voigt, Chris Horner and Andy Cracked Pelvis Schleck are riding the Rockies. Andy will be there for the applause and every time he hits the gas in the mountains the fans will go nuts. Maybe he’ll try another break like he did last year when he and Basso and Laurens Ten Dam got the jump, then played around so much on the run-in to the finish that the Liquigas train blew right past them laughing.

Given his second overall in Utah, Matthew Busche would have been the hot choice but he isn’t riding. Honestly, we don’t know what to think. Does Horner still have gas in the tank? He had a disastrous time trial in California but a steady, old man diesel performance in Le Grand Shindig. Maybe it’s time for Oliver Zaugg to wake up from his post Lombardia victory slumber and shock everybody again.

Astana

Will they ride for Brajkovic or Nibali? Ahh, just kidding. Welcome to Colorado Jani, what’s on your mind. This feels like a “we’ll just take it a day at a time and see what happens.” Yup, but we sure wish he’d just go full bad-ass and throw it down the second the road tilts up. He should take some lessons from the Colombian and stop playing the game so careful.

SpiderTech

There are only a handful of riders from the domestic Pro-Continental squads that have a prayer of breaking the ranks of the ProTour bosses. Lucas Euser is one of them. A Colorado guy who knows the roads, he also has his attitude training down. He can’t wait for this race to start and the guy can climb. Eighth in Utah, he’s clearly ready and licking his chops for that first mountain climb.

After nearly catastrophic injuries wiped out 2008 and 2009, it took him several years to piece himself back together with help from one of Lance Armstrong’s physiologists. A smart guy and good with a humorous tweet, we’re expecting a strong showing in Colorado.

UnitedHealthCare

Rory Sutherland has been banging, banging, banging on the door in the Tour of California for years. He’s just never been able to crack the Garmin-RadioShack-BMC rock. This last week he won a stage in Utah but then dropped from contention.

An excellent time trailer and a solid climber, he’s just a little heavier than the pure mountain men. And he doesn’t have that grand tour in his legs so compared to the ProTour monsters, he lacks that extra bit of recovery ability. Still, he lives in Boulder and has a strong, well-drilled team behind him. What he needs is luck and a run of crazy good form.

Bontrager-Livestrong

We thought Tejay Van Garderen burst onto the pro race scene pretty fast but that feels like nothing compared to the high speed trajectory of Joe Dombrowski. We’re officially calling the kid Joe Dom, as in Dominator. Wins the Baby Giro this year then freaks everyone out by taking 4th place on the queen bitch stage up Mount Baldy in this year’s Tour of California.

This week he nailed 4th overall in Utah. Yeah, he’s warmed up and he’s too damn young to get tired. It’s just a shame his parents didn’t given him a Hollywood name like Travis Legstrong or Ace Mountaintop. He and is buddy Ian Boswell will come to Colorado loose and confident and that is a dangerous combination.

NetApp

Jesus, who is Leopold Keonig? Crown prince of Austria? We have no idea.

Twisted Spoke will be covering the US Pro Cycling Challenge live and in person for Cycle Sport Magazine. We missed the Le Tour this year but we’ll have our fun in the Rockies. Stay tuned.

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  • http://www.faiss.com/ Joakim

    “Michael Schär won the overall in Utah…” Mixed up the Swiss here? Wasn’t it Johann Tschopp?

  • Sam Parker

    Rumors around here are that Spider Tech’s Lucas Euser was seen at the little coffee shop next to Podium Sports in Frisco, CO, elevation 9100ft. Caffiene, and altitude…If its true, sounds like he is on the training plan.

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com walshworld

      Sam, I’m hoping he goes crazy in the Rockies. How sweet would that be to embarrass the big ProTeam boys? Matt