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Colorado UPCC: Prologue Podium Predictions

August 1, 2011

It’s Monday and exactly three weeks to the first stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado, a five mile prologue course.  It seems like a good time to start making predictions about who can win the stages and the overall. Even though the start list isn’t confirmed, more than a few riders have announced they will be racing, either via Twitter (Ben King), interviews (Timmy Duggan and others from Liquigas), or the cycling media, all sources for the provisional start list I’ve compiled.

I asked some uber-fans to predict who could win the prologue. Here’s what they think.

@Biff_Bruise, David Napoli: I’ll say Dave Z, given his focus on this event (well, this and Comic Con) after exiting the Tour de France early.

@kalenski, Kalenski: It’s a stage Thor could take. (Followed by) The climb isn’t that long or sustained (not like stage 1….) and there’s a sprint finish.

John Polli, PeakCyclesRaceTeam, has a longer list of possibilities:

  1. Dave Zabriskie. Since the last three miles are a flat-out drag, and Zabriskie is the most aero-dynamic, he’s the top pick as long as he’s healed from the TDF injury.
  2. Fabian Cancellara. It’s so short and no one goes faster than him in five miles. If it was a little more technical of a course, he’d be the top pick.
  3. A handful of others who could do really well. Levi Leipheimer — he’ll try to redeem himself because he had a bad TDF. Cadel Evans — if he’s motivated. Tony Martin and David Millar, if they are coming. Tom Danielson —  he could sneak into the top ten. Tejay van Garderen — He’ll have a ton of family on the course and will be motivated for sure; did you see him pulling at the front near the end of the TDF?

Before receiving @kalenski‘s prediction, Zabriskie and Cancellara were my clear favorites. Her prediction of Thor Hushovd is fascinating, given the generally downhill nature of the course. We saw in this year’s TDF that Thor carried an amazing amount of speed downhill, 69 mph, during stage 13. While the descent, after a quarter mile rise, from the Garden of the Gods into downtown Colorado Springs is not as long as the descents during stage 13 of the TDF, it is predicted the riders will hit high speeds. Thor is a legitimate contender. Everyone is always talking about Thor’s weight; could his weight be an advantage on this course?

  • Thor Hushovd: 83kg
  • Dave Zabriskie: 70kg
  • Fabian Cancellara: 82kg

I have to add Danny Pate to those already mentioned. Danny lives in Colorado Springs. Talk about family and friends on the course; I bet his will outnumber any of the competitors. Danny should be strong after his Tour de France completion. He should be super-motivated, maybe the most of all the riders.

Drumroll, please, for the ProVéloPassion prologue podium prediction:

Fabian Cancellara, from Team Leopard Trek website

  1. Fabian Cancellara
  2. Cadel Evans
  3. Thor Hushovd

Of course this assumes Fabian and Thor will compete; Fabian was confirmed in March by the Denver Post, though roster plans can change.

As I wrote in Taking Chances: TDF Fantasy Teams, predictions in a complex system are a crap-shoot. But they’re still fun to make. Let’s see what happens on August 22, 2011.

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