Boulder may claim Tom Danielson, rider on the Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda USA Pro Cycling Challenge team, as its own, but Durango is his real home town, he says, and that showed today as he snagged the King of the Mountain challenge on Stage One of the Challenge. Danielson led the way over Lizard Head Pass, 10,247 feet in elevation.
“I started my cycling career here at Fort Lewis,” Danielson said at a press conference Sunday. “I grew my cycling career here with the community. And just being here with the race start is just amazing.”
Stage one began in Durango, and 126 miles and 10,947 feet of climbing later, the riders arrived in Telluride. Danielson and teammate Peter Stetina led the peloton over the final hills, before Tyler Farrar, also of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda, pulled ahead for the win in the final sprint to the finish. Stetina snagged the day’s “Most Aggressive Rider” jersey, while Farrar won the sprint jersey, snagging Garmin-Sharp four of five jerseys awarded for Stage One. In a press conference held after the race, Danielson says the team's strategy was meant to create a little chaos to win.
"Team Director Charlie Wegelius said let's take it to race, cause a big split and make some chaos — it almost worked!" Danielson said. "It was a lot of fun and I haven't had that much fun in a bike race in a long time."
Last year’s winner, Levi Leipheimer, also finished strong in this stage.
"Races like this, no one lets anyone get anywhere — you have to create chaos to win. We did that on the first hill, then again on the second part of the climb," he said. "You have to take advantage of the chaos you created and hope people make weird decisions. it almost worked; we'll just try again tomorrow."
Stage Two starts from Montrose and presents two short, challenging climbs over Cerro Summit and Blue Mesa Summit in the first 65 miles primed for breakaways, sprints through Gunnison and Crested Butte and finishes with a two-mile climb up Mt. Crested Butte.
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