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UPCC Stage 3 Recap: Team Garmin Camp

August 27, 2011

Jonathan Vaughters talks Vail TT course with Tom Danielson (Mary Topping)

Mixed emotions swirled around the Garmin team bus yesterday near the end of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge (UPCC) stage 3 Vail time trial.

Peter Stetina arrived at the bus after his ride and immediately set his bike on the trainer. Six-inch oblong red patches on his calf and elbow remained from the road rash of his crash during the Tour of Utah. He described his UPCC TT ride. “It was a horrible day,” he said. “I don’t know why. The numbers were all wrong.”

As he spoke Christian Vande Velde and Tom Danielson plugged away on the ten mile course. The Garmin team camp didn’t have a TV or race radio, which according to their Director of Communications Marya Pongrace is typical at American races. Marya and I scrolled through Twitter on our phones for updates as John Henderson of the Denver Post and a couple of fans looked on.

The desired dispatch appeared on our screens: a new best time for Christian. Hope rose in an almost totally abandoned team parking area.

Moments later Levi’s time popped up — half of a second better than Christian’s time. Sadness descended. But hope prevailed; Tom still raced on course, and even though he didn’t feel well the night before, he had warmed up for a long  time and started.

After a few minutes we knew Tom had finished, but apparently no one — not even Phil and Paul, knew his time. When his time appeared in Twitter it was a double edged sword. He didn’t win, but he didn’t do as poorly as folks feared he might given lack of sleep the night before.

John Henderson of the Denver Post covered Tom Danielson the morning of and after the Vail TT . I ran beside him up and down the Vail frontage road from the media center to team parking and back to the media center in the morning, then to team parking again at 2:30 to be in place to interview Tom post-TT. John’s legs must be twice as long as mine.

Tom Danielson interviewed by John Henderson, Denver Post, after Vail TT (Mary Topping)

Predictions

The ProVéloPassion Podium Prediction for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge UPCC stage 3:

  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)

The actual placings:

    1. Levi Leipheimer, (RSH) in 25’47″08
    2. Christian Vande Velde (GRM) +0″58
    3. Rafael Infantino (EPM) +04″

The biggest surprise of the day had to be Tejay Van Garderen’s performance which was 51 second’s off the winner’s pace. One can only speculate why. Did the mental effort of taking risks on the rainy descent from Indpendence Pass take it’s toll in energy and focus? Did he dose his efforts ineffectively? Youthful enthusiasm? Henderson also interviewed Jonathan Vaughters at the end of the stage; Jonathan thought Tejay had gone out too hard. Is it a coincidence that the “elder statesmen” finished ahead of Tejay (Levi is 37 years-old and Christian is 35).From what I’ve read the key to winning on the course is to slightly underspend on the flatter part and overspend on the part that goes uphill.

All of my stage 3 picks finished in the top 17 on the stage. Maybe next year the predictions ought to project the top 10 finishers, in no particular order.

It’s curious that even in an uphill TT 10 miles long, Andy Schleck could lose two minutes eleven seconds.

Favorites

Favorite quote of the day: Christian Vande Velde, on how happy Colorado fans are having a race at home: “I’m sure everyone’s going to buy Quiznos sandwiches for a year.”

Favorite image of the day: Christian Vande Velde on the TT course, by @Kalenski. I chose a photo of Christian because he is over the moon about riding at his potential after some seasons of crashes and recovery. “It’s great to put the foot to the gas pedal and feel good again,” he said.

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