Boul­der’s Howes takes sec­ond stage of Clas­sic

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By John Meyer John Meyer: jmeyer@den­ver­ or @john­meyer

BRECKENRIDGE» When the Colorado Clas­sic of­fi­cially went on the in­ter­na­tional cy­cling cal­en­dar, Alex Howes tar­geted the four-day tour as the high­light of his sea­son. Born in Denver, raised in Golden and re­sid­ing in Boul­der, he even al­lowed him­self to dream of win­ning the over­all ti­tle.

He took a big step to­ward that dream in Fri­day’s sec­ond stage, win­ning the 64-mile race that all con­sid­ered the “queen stage” of the event, mean­ing it was sure to be the hard­est and most pres­ti­gious of the four. It was feared, too, be­cause it in­volved 10 laps on a course that in­cluded a bru­tal 600foot climb over just three miles on the iconic Moon­stone Road.

“This is like Christ­mas for me,” said Howes, who races for the same Can­non­dale Dra­pac team that in­cludes Taylor Phin­ney and Rigob­erto Uran, who fin­ished sec­ond in the Tour de France this sum­mer. “I’ve been count­ing down the days. So to ac­tu­ally get the win to­day in Breckenridge, in the queen stage … you al­ways have a plan, but plans don’t usu­ally work out. So when it does, it’s pretty spe­cial.”

At the midway point, Howes is in a vir­tual tie for the over­all lead with T.J. Eisen­hart of Holowesko/ Citadel and Peter Stetina of Trek-Se­gafredo. Eisen­hart has a one-sec­ond ad­van­tage over Howes and Stetina is 11 sec­onds back. Satur­day’s 81-mile stage will take rid­ers from down­town Denver to the Peak to Peak High­way and back.

“I re­ally wanted to win to­day, be­cause I knew who­ever takes the win here to­day has a great shot at win­ning the over­all,” said Howes, 29. “This be­ing one of the few races in the world that doesn’t have a time trial, I thought maybe I could win the over­all, be­cause I can’t time trial my way out of a wet pa­per bag.”

Eisen­hart broke away midway through the race and kept the lead un­til the last climb on Moon­stone when he was caught by a five-man chase group in­clud­ing Howes. They traded leads on the de­scent be­fore Howes used his su­pe­rior sprint abil­ity on Main Street to win by a bike length.

“When I crossed the fin­ish line, there was no dis­ap­point­ment,” Eisen­hart said. “I was just blown, smoked. Be­ing at al­ti­tude, all of a sud­den this ma­jor headache over­whelmed my head. I have lit­er­ally no dis­ap­point­ment in my ride, it was a phe­nom­e­nal ride.”

In the two-stage women’s com­pe­ti­tion that ended Fri­day, Canada’s Sara Poidevin of Rally Cy­cling won a five-lap race and clinched the gen­eral clas­si­fi­ca­tion ti­tle, com­ing from be­hind on the last lap to edge Tayler Wiles of Unit­edHealth­Care. Ab­bie Mickey, who grew up in Aspen and lives in Boul­der, was third.

“I knew I was out­num­bered by a cou­ple of teams, so I had to be care­ful with how I used my en­ergy,” said Poidevin, 21. “I just tried to sit in and rest as much as I could. I knew on the sec­ond-to-last lap when Ab­bie Mickey was up the road, it was a good time to launch an at­tack. I went and was able to shake the other girls off my wheel and get up to Ab­bie. I knew I had to be con­ser­va­tive through the town and re­ally (charge) on the climb.”

Wiles praised Poidevin for tak­ing the lead and hold­ing it with­out rid­ers to help her.

“It was a great race,” Wiles said. “I have to give props to Sara, she was def­i­nitely the strong­est rider. We had the num­bers. She fol­lowed ev­ery one of our at­tacks and was able to counter us, so it was a very, very im­pres­sive ride.”

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