Tom Danielson finally gets his wish.
The Garmin-Sharp climber, who finished third to winner Tejay van Garderen last year in Colorado, has been pushing for a nasty summit finish since the first edition of the race back in 2010.
In fact, Danielson, who lives in Boulder and went to school in Durango, was practically begging for one in the post-stage press conferences.
In front of journalists and photographers, Danielson joked with race leader van Garderen that he wasn’t giving up the fight and might throw a pump through the spokes of van Garderen’s BMC machine before lamenting the criminal lack of a summit finish.
Now, he’s got one. Stage three starts in the working class cowtown of Gunnison and ends at the summit of Monarch mountain — the base elevation of the ski area there is 10,790 feet. The air will be thin, people will be dying and Danielson will have a smile on his face.
Twisted Spoke is also happy to see the return of Gunnison to the US Pro Cycling Challenge which has a generally resort-heavy route. Gunnison is a nice visual (and financial) antidote to millionaire places like Aspen, Created Butte and Vail.
In fact, we still have good memories of a fine glass of wine at the Brick Cellar and a damn tasty burger at the bar counter of the Old Miner Steakhouse. Not to mention the cheap Mexican food around the corner and down the street. Culinary discovery is half the fun of covering a bike race.
Without towns like Gunnison, Durango and Golden, the race misses the real flavor and personality of Colorado. Aspen is beautiful and Vail is grand but rich locals laugh at our cheap rental car and meager expense money. Instead we make the drive over to Frisco and stay with friends.
The social media-savvy wrinkle this year is that race organizers will give fans voter input on the final stage. — Denver circuit race similar to that used on the final day of 2013. The options:
— Denver circuit race
— Start in Golden with a finish in Denver
— Start in Boulder and finish in Denver
— Start in Boulder and finish in Golden
Personally we’d vote for the final option, the Boulder to Golden route. As everybody knows, Boulder is an insane bike city and home to over a dozen pro riders and the Garmin-Sharp team. Golden is a super cool town and the start there two years ago had glorious weather and massive crowds. It would be a double shot of fabulous.
Stage 1: Monday, August 18 – Aspen Circuit Race
Stage 2: Tuesday, August 19 – Aspen to Mt. Crested Butte
Stage 3: Wednesday, August 20 – Gunnison to Monarch Mountain (summit finish)
Stage 4: Thursday, August 21 – Colorado Springs Circuit Race
Stage 5: Friday, August 22 – Woodland Park to Breckenridge
Stage 6: Saturday, August 23 – Vail Individual Time Trial
Stage 7: Sunday, August 24 (Fan TDB)