“You explode really quick and you don’t recover anymore. It’s a little bit of a slow motion race.”
That was Andy Schleck of Leopard Trek describing the effects of high altitude racing in the Rockies. Still, that didn’t prevent the three time runner-up in the Tour de France from attacking right from the git-go.
It was a like a Tour reunion as Ivan Basso joined Schleck, along with scarface Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank) and for domestic color, Tom Peterson of Garmin-Cervelo. An all-star cast for the US Pro Cycling Challenge stage from Steamboat Springs to the ski resort town of Breckenridge.
They were out all day, over Rabbit Ears Pass, down into the valley, through the funky little town of Kremmling and then on to the massive rave party at the top of Swan Mountain.
“I was close to win the stage. I came off the last climb with 15 seconds,” said Shleck who came crashing through a dance party with music pumping and fans in costume dancing like it was New Years Eve at a bike race.
“They catch me with 4 k to go. I had to gamble,” said the Luxembourger who is a fan favorite everywhere he goes. He gambled and made more friends and will remember his bold move up Swan. It was a little bit of the Galibier for Schleck, who dumped his three breakaway buddies.
“A hard race but I expected the climbs to be harder here. They are less harder than the Alps but it’s because of the altitude,” said Schleck. That explaining why young Elia Viviani, a part time track cyclist and sprinter for Liquigas-Cannondale, won the stage.
Viviani is hasn’t spent weeks at altitude and we’re guessing he hasn’t been sleeping in an altitude tent. That didn’t prevent him from riding through the Rockies and sprinting to his second stage win in a row.
Andy was close but it was Viviani who closed the deal.