Analysis, insight and data
While making the case for US President George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld, Bush’s defence secretary, offered an opaque explanation as to why they were champing at the bit to invade.
“There are known knowns,” he bellicose secretary said in a Pentagon press briefing in 2002. “These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” That last one can really trip you up, as Rumsfeld discovered. So it was at the inaugural Colorado Classic in August – the peloton and the bulk of GC contenders didn’t know that what they didn’t know on the way to Denver on stage 3 was about to cost them the race. A wild opening day in Colorado Springs had ended in a sprint after sunshine, rain, hail and gusting winds. Holowesko’s John Murphy won the stage and put on the royal blue leader’s jersey, but it was never intended to last. The outlines of the final GC started to form the next day in Breckenridge, when the riders tackled a 103km circuit race, including 10 ascents of the short Moonstone Road climb at more than 3,100m.
The GC hopefuls surged, with Utah native TJ Eisenhart (Citadel) and Colorado boy Alex Howes (Cannondale) first and second after battling over the final descent with Trek’s Peter Stetina. Howes won the stage, but Eisenhart, the last survivor of an all-day breakaway, put on the leader’s jersey with a 0:01 lead over the Cannondale rider. Stetina was third overall, another 0:10 back, while Sepp Kuss (Rally) and Manuel Senni (BMC) each sat 32 seconds in arrears. Next closest was Romanian Serghei
Tvetcov (Jelly Belly), 0:51 adrift. Senni’s teammate Brent Bookwalter, who came into the race as a favourite, was seventh, already 1:45 down with two relatively flat stages remaining.
The race looked straightforward from there. The third stage would go up and over the Gap Road and Golden Gate climbs, but the downhill run to the finish almost guaranteed another sprint.
But the things the riders didn’t know they didn’t know were waiting to tear up the script.
It started innocently enough, with a break taking off early. Stetina attacked the bunch and bridged across, taking Senni, Tvetcov and Kuss with him. The dangerous GC riders in the move set off Cannondale’s alarm bells, and the field was on them not long after the first KoM. Tvetcov, who lives and trains in Colorado, attacked as the bunch climbed up Golden Gate, and an alert Senni jumped on the Romanian’s move. The pair took the Golden Gate KoM with a minute over the field, and then Tvetcov went to work on the descent, adding even more to the duo’s advantage. Rain and winds had started pounding the race again, grounding the aircraft used to amplify the reach of the radios used for the riders and caravan. Information about what was happening became scarce. The muchreduced peloton had no idea the duo up the road had stretched their lead to more than a minute, and once they started chasing, it was too little, too late. Cannondale DS Ken Vanmarcke told cyclingnews the gap went from a very manageable 15-20 seconds to more than a minute without warning. “We did everything we could,” he said. “Maybe our mistake was to let them have 15 seconds. At that moment, we had everything under control. Then there was a black hole of 10 minutes, 15 minutes with no information, and that’s when they took a minute.”
The determined duo, likely as surprised by their good fortune as anyone in the race, pressed the issue and took a 54s advantage to the line, where Senni sat up and gave Tvetcov an uncontested stage win. Senni took a 0:15 lead over Tvetcov into the final stage. A very disappointed Howes was 31 seconds back in third.
The final stage, a relatively flat circuit race in downtown Denver, played out as expected, with Israel Cycling Academy’s Mihkel Raim taking a bunch sprint win ahead of Travis McCabe (UnitedHealthcare) and newcomer José Alfredo Rodríguez of the Elevate team.
The top of the general classification didn’t change. We know that for sure.
Rain and winds had started pounding the race again. Information became scarce
Storm clouds gather as the early break "ights its way clear on Gap Road on stage 3 of the Colorado Classic
GC winner Manuel Senni rode a strong race to hold o! f "vetcov