Boulder’s Howes takes second stage of Classic
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.”