Anal­y­sis, in­sight and data

Procycling - - Contents -

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

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