The second annual USA Pro Challenge, which I'll forever call the Tour of Colorado, wrapped up on Sunday, and I defy you to find anyone who said it wasn't better than the first edition. Not only was the race one day longer than the inaugural event, but the course was better crafted to preserve the drama down to the finish. And that it did, with Garmin-Sharp's Christian Vande Velde snatching a surprising victory in the race's waning minutes.
Good as it was, the USAPCC V.2 wasn't perfect. With that in mind, here are a few humble observations and suggestions for an even more memorable event next year.
1. Thank bejeezus for Garmin-Sharp. This event could have been tedious without them. The truth is, making an interesting race in Colorado is challenging because the mountaintops mostly don't finish in towns, the roads are super wide, and the grades are not terribly steep, all of which works against drama. But Garmin, who were hell-bent on winning (or at least going down swinging), injected plenty of theatrics. The team ripped apart half the stages by putting incredibly strong riders off the front, and in return they won three of seven stages plus the overall. Tom Danielson's huge move to hold off the chasing peloton by a scant two seconds on Stage 3 goes down as one of the finest single days of racing all year. And Christian Vande Velde's from-behind win in the final TT is something out of a storybook, especially after his close second last year. Chapeau to the argyle!