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Colorado UPCC: Stage 3 Podium Predictions

August 17, 2011

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge (UPCC) stage 3 TT in Vail is a two-part course. The first 5.4 mile section is relatively flat and straight, with an average grade of 1%. The second 4.7 mile section has an average grade of 3% with some sweeping curves. The average grade over the entire 10.1 mile course is 2%. Riders will begin in the start house at an elevation of 8,203 ft.

Wildflowers along Old Vail Pass Rd

Andy Hampsten held the course record of 26:33.43 set during the 1987 Coors Classic until Ben Day broke it at the 2008 Teva Mountain Games with a ride of 25:48, which is also when Chris Baldwin rode the course in 26:29.

Given the grades I’m thinking this is a course for a strong time trialist who has a good uphill finish; it’s not steep enough for the strong “pure” climbers to dominate. Contenders will need to be well acclimatized, by either completing the Tour of Utah, living at altitude, or arriving early enough before the race.

This podium piece includes fan predictions as well as predictions from those affiliated with pro-cycling teams.

Greta Bloomfield, a volunteer with the Golden stage 6 local organizing committee: I’m going with Cadel since he rocked it in the Stage 20 TDF Time Trial; he’s raced in Colorado as a MTBer so he knows the altitude and he’s an animal! I always root for the former MTBers!!!

@Biff_Bruise, David Napoli: Danielson again… but he does not beat Andy Hampsten’s course record.

Dave Anderson, UnitedHealthcare’s CEO of Southern CA division. I met Dave in Utah while Rory Sutherland of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team was warming up for Utah’s TT and asked him about Rory’s chances to win stage 3. He said he’ll be a contender because he can do a good uphill TT, but likely not win because he’s a bigger guy than the other climber-time trialists (6’2”, 169 lbs). “Rory’s tweeted about reconning the TT route,” I said. Dave chuckled. “I have a house in Vail,” where he implied Rory has passed a good bit of time lately.

@TheDPate, Danny Pate of Team HTC-Highroad, at Tour of Utah: It’s going to be a lot of the same guys who were good here: Leipheimer, TJ, and probably Danielson – because it’s uphill and a time trial. The Schlecks, Cadel — I don’t know as much about those guys because their main goal was the Tour. I don’t know what they’ve been doing since; they’d be a big question mark. Schleck, Schleck and Cadel are all going to go pretty well because they are just that good, but one of them will be a prime contender. The Tour de France is the Tour de France for a reason and they peak for that, and then I don’t what else they’re looking at after that, but this race is the main goal for Leipheimer, TJ, and Danielson, and that helps a lot when you are focusing more on one event like they are. [Top five finishers in the Tour of Utah: Leipheimer, Henao, Brajkovic, Sevilla, Danielson, with Vande Velde sixth.]


The recent time trials at the Tour of Utah, while somewhat different from the Vail course, provide some guidance to predict who could win in Vail.

  1. The prologue was uphill (at 7% average grade), but short at 2 k, with a starting elevation of 6,950 ft. Top five finishers were Henao, Mancebo, Sevilla, Van Garderen, and Danielson.
  2. The TT was about the same length as Vail, 9.7 miles, but pretty flat with a .4% average grade and an elevation gain of 230 ft. Lots of turns, so more technical than the Vail course. It’s starting elevation was about 4,400 ft. Top five finishers were Van Garderen, Leipheimer, Gretsch, Wetterhall,  and Vande Velde.
Tour of Utah Prologue Results      
1. HENAO MONTOYA Sergio Luis GOB .04’05″820  
2. MANCEBO PEREZ Francisco RCC .04’07″780 2″
3. SEVILLA RIBERA Oscar GOB .04’10″160 5″
4. VAN GARDEREN * Tejay THR .04’10″390
5. DANIELSON Thomas GRM .04’12″400 7″
6. LEIPHEIMER Levi RSH .04’12″620
7. VANDEVELDE Christian GRM .04’14″730 9″
8. BAUER Jack EDR .04’15″390 10″
9. WREN # Tyler JSH .04’16″230 11″
10 GRAJALES Cesar Augusto RCC .04’17″310 12″
11 MC CARTY Pat CSM .04’17″340
12 STETINA Peter GRM .04’17″660
13 OSPINA HERNANDES Carlos Alberto GOB .04’18″180 13″
14. WYSS Marcel GEO .04’20″380 15″
15. SUTHERLAND Rory UHC .04’20″630
Tour of Utah Stage 3 Time Trial Results  
1. VAN GARDEREN * Tejay THR .17’33″640  
2. LEIPHEIMER Levi RSH .17’39″580 6″
3. GRETSCH Patrick THR .17’43″750 10″
4. WETTERHALL Alexander EDR .17’51″230 18″
5. VANDE VELDE Christian GRM .17’52″240 19″
6. BRAJKOVIC Janez RSH .17’58″220 25″
7. PATE Danny THR .18’00″920 27″
8. DANIELSON Thomas GRM .18’03″160 30″
9. ZIRBEL Tom JSH .18’03″230
10. HINCAPIE George BMC .18’03″990
11. ZABRISKIE David GRM .18’07″080 34″
12. BAUER Jack EDR .18’11″930 38″
13. BOOKWALTER Brent BMC .18’12″830 39″
14. VENNELL Jeremy BPC .18’12″910
15. SEVILLA RIBERA Oscar GOB .18’14″990 41″

The 2011 Tour de Suisse Stage 9 Time Trial in June covered 19.9 miles total at an elevation of approximately 1,320 ft. Up to the second time split at about 14 miles the course was generally uphill with the average grade to that point of 1.5%.  We could say that riders that did well in this Tour de Suisse TT may be contenders in Vail.

2011 Tour de Suisse Stage 9
  Time Trial Results
1. Fabian Cancellara Leopard-Trek 41:01:00
2. Andreas Klöden Team RadioShack at 0:09
3. Levi Leipheimer Team RadioShack at 0:13
4. Nelson Oliveira Team RadioShack at 0:25
5. Thomas Danielson Garmin-Cervelo at 0:38
6. Gustav Larsson Saxobank-Sungard at 0:41
7. Jakob Fuglsang Leopard-Trek at 0:44
8. Thomas De Gendt Vacansoleil at 0:48
9. Christopher Froome Team Sky at 1:02
10. Christian Vande Velde Garmin-Cervelo at 1:04

I’m starting to think Leipheimer, Danielson, Van Garderen, Vande Velde. I’ll add Baldwin to this list because he’s raced the course with a very good result in 2008. Questions I would like to know the answer to: Will Levi have enough gas left after a hard TDF and his efforts in Utah?  Danielson flied somewhat under the radar screen in France; how will he perform under the focus he’s received as a contender for the UPCC? And did Tom and Rory both hold something back in Utah to save something for Colorado?

And for the dark horses, how about Andres Diaz of Team Exergy, a climber-time trialist? Richie Porte of Saxo Bank pulled out some good time trial results in 2010. The preliminary start list for Saxo also includes Larsson. I’m not sure how hard Saxo will be racing; based on a tweet on August 17th Larsson seems to be traveling. If Porte is on the same schedule, that’s less than a week to acclimate.

OK, time to put a seat post into the ground. ProVéloPassion podium predictions for the stage 3 UPCC time trial in Vail:

Tejay Van Garderen receiving best young rider's jersey at 2011 Tour of Utah

  1. Tejay Van Garderen (Team HTC-Highroad)
  2. Tom Danielson (Team Garmin-Cervélo)
  3. Levi Leipheimer (Team RadioShack) or Cadel Evans (BMC) or Chris Baldwin (Bissell)

TJ’s time trials in Utah, including the energy from his win-at-last in the TT that has to have pumped him up, swung the pendulum for me. Yes, it’s wimpy to have a three way tie for third. But I almost added a fourth. Come see the Vail TT; it’s probably the most decisive stage of the race.

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