We’re now more than halfway through the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge and it clear that the American riders want to make sure they defend their home turf. After the prologue on Monday, two road stages on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a time trial yesterday, American cyclists dominate the leaderboard, controlling the top five spots.
Leading the race is Levi Leipheimer of Team RadioShack. He who holds an 11 second lead over Christian VandeVelde of Team Garmin-Cervélo and 17 seconds on Tejay Van Garderen of HTC-Highroad. Tom Danielson, also of Garmin-Cervélo, holds down the fourth spot, 21 seconds off the pace, while George Hincapie of BMC Racing rounds out the all-American top five, 53 seconds off the leader.
So far, the race has lived up to its promise of being a challenging, high altitude competition. Colorado has served as a scenic, yet brutal, backdrop for the racers, who have endured difficult climbs, thin air, and heart-pounding descents. Hincapie won a thrilling Stage 2 that included more that 9740 feet of climbing, while Levi took the time trial through Vail yesterday, which featured 1783 feet of climbing over just a ten mile course.
Today, the Peloton will return to the road with an 82.8 mile long stage between Avon and Steamboat Springs. This should be a relatively fast stage for the riders, as it only has about 5000 feet of climbing, with the highest point being 8550 feet. That sounds like a lot for the rest of us, but should be a walk in the park after what they’ve gone through earlier in the week.
So far, it seems that the Pro Cycling Challenge has been quite a success in its first year of existence. Considering the field is full of big names from the pro circuit, it is garnering plenty of attention on the world’s stage as well. Hopefully the race will become a staple on the tour, and will be around for a long time to come.
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