The announcement that the race would be run had such a powerful effect on Grewal that he was spurred into ‘comeback mode’ – here are his thoughts on the race route, which will hopefully have him pinning a number on after 17 years away from the sport. Alexi’s thoughts are followed by talented young Coloradoan, Timmy Duggan.
August 22: Prologue time trial, Colorado Springs.
August 23: Stage 1, Salida to Crested Butte.
August 24: Stage 2, Gunnison to Aspen.
August 25: Stage 3, Vail, time trial.
August 26: Stage 4, Avon to Steamboat Springs.
August 27: Stage 5, Steamboat Springs to Breckenridge.
August 28: Stage 6, Golden to Denver.
Grewal is a wealth of information and a few opinions, which he’s not afraid to discuss.
From Salida, they must be crossing Monarch Pass – It’s not that bad.
Then a long sweeping descent into a flat river valley to Gunnison followed by a long valley grade to Crested Butte.
The climb is easy, I big ringed it in TT’s and could roll a big gear up it even multiple times. So it’s hardly a mountain top finish, even if they end up using the last inch of pavement.
Altitude – well, that will bother some.
Gunnison to Aspen, will head back up towards Crested Butte and then veer off on another river valley into Talor Park. I have never ridden Cotton Wood Pass, and I can do some research for you, but that might be the hardest climb of the race – it’s a long river valley from the bottom of the descent to the next climb however, if it’s a headwind it can kill any break.
Independence Pass climbed from that side is mostly gradual, up a river valley, there are some pitches in it, but nothing steep, only the last three miles are real climbing, again, it is not that steep – but it’s altitude.
It’s the best place for the climber to attack, in fact maybe the only place unless going for a long break. The descent is great in a car, that tells you there are only one or two sections that are technical – to me ‘technical’ means you cannot anticipate, because you cannot see. I don’t think it is that hard a descent.
If you know it well and can hammer, there are rollers in the middle and in the final three miles into Aspen, then you could make something of it. For the most part it is a descent that you have to drive it hard down to go fast. It is nothing like most European Alpine descents. You have to be able to pedal fast and carry speed over many uphill sections.
Grewal’s incredible Olympic triumph in Los Angeles.
A short time trial (if they use the original). In the Coors Classic days it was a split stage with a 14 mile tt in the morning and a 50 mile criterium in the afternoon. The TT is short, half flat half climbing; again not steep, 42 x 17-18-maybe briefly 19.
Practically a rest day for everyone except the GC.
And not enough of a real climb that it would eliminate the possibility that the World TT champ, you know the Suisse guy – he could win.
Stages 4 & 5
Unless they throw in some obstacles these stage have hills but cross no major mountains. Field Sprints. And here is the caveat – they had to get from one place to another – these two days look boring to me.
Golden to Denver – it could go anywhere. Golden is 10 miles from Denver, not likely to be terribly hard as terrain goes, hills, yes, but surely designed to be a field sprint or have the potential for one – but from the sounds of it this will be their publicity stage. All of the other stages are out in the middle of nowhere so to speak. Overall, an easy race.
A bloody vacation, which is exactly why they will get every one to come.
Any decent climber (by pro standards could win) if he stays close in the first three days and can get in the right moves in the last three days.
An American who is familiar with altitude could win – the race suits Danielson.
The altitude and dry air are more difficult to adapt to than is first thought – so home field advantage is a big factor in this race.
Overall, looking at the initial, but tentative, route options, I agree with Alexi in that on paper the Quiznos Pro Challenge doesn’t seem too difficult. Some big gnarly climbs for sure, but not to a finish line.
Timmy knows the mountains of Colorado very well.
But the underlying theme of the whole week is “altitude.” The whole race is above 1600meters, with almost all of it close to 3000m. Riding over something like Cottonwood Pass, even as a native Coloradoan, I feel the effect of altitude there. That climb is long, twisty, and dirt on the climbing side. Although far from the finish, an opportunistic group could blow things apart there.
Timmy came ever so close to a Dauphine stage win two years ago.
The riders make the race… they can be aggressive or timid, attack at unpredictable points, or allow the race to be chaotic instead of controlled. There are no big mountain top finishes but there are a couple of moderately decisive time trials. If youve ever tried to go absolutely all out at 3000 meters, its not an easy thing, and some who are normally good in a time trial could just feel flat or blow spectacularly.
While snow is always a possibility, that should be one bit of weather difficulty riders will not have to contend with. Hopefully.
Don’t count out the potential for crosswinds as well, even up in the mountain valleys, which are pretty wide open and windy. But anyways, the riders make the race, and if some riders race aggressively and opportunistically in the altitude and not allow the rather mellow, however scenic, parcours dictate the race, there can still be some carnage apart from the time trials.