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Montréal Passion Prize to Pate

September 12, 2011

Pate in Montreal (Dana McEwan)

Danny Pate’s 2011 Grand Prix Cycliste Montréal ride calls to mind a certain gutsy TDF stage 15. It was 2008, the first year both then Team Garmin-Chipotle and Danny rode in the TDF. That day Danny and three others left the peloton at kilometer 12 and didn’t look back. After climbing about 10,000 feet, Danny scored third place, a huge result for his first Tour. Three years later, he’s delivered another grand effort (un vrai numéro) and won the passion prize for the Montréal race.

Danny broke away alone after about 37 k of the 205 k course but soon three others joined him: Di Luca, Arashiro, and Geslin. At 50 k to the finish the foursome’s lead dwindled to 45 seconds. For the next 23 k multiple riders would leap from the peloton to try to bridge to the break while race-favorite teams dialed up the pace, but none would succeed. Di Luca returned to the pack at 46 k to go. With 33 k remaining Danny raced forward while Arashiro and Geslin fell back. At this point commentators said it wouldn’t be long until the group reeled Danny in. They would swallow their words when Danny, in time-trial mode, remained out front for enough of a lap to get maximum climbing points and overtake Di Luca to win the KOM (as reported by Six riders finally caught him with two laps left in the race.

Pate at front of four-man break, Montreal (Dana McEwan)

It may be ironic to award Danny the passion prize, because the print media casts the impression that he’s just a guy doing his job. Here’s what he said in a piece published just before the 2011 TDF:  “A successful Tour for me is being able to do what the team wants me to. I’m here to be a support rider and we’ve got some of the best riders in the world here on the team. Instead of calling it responsibility it’s part of my work. We’re going to go out there and race our race every day. My part of that will probably be riding on the front and that’s fine.”

The thing is, Danny does his job really well. You could believe that for him to work as hard as he does, he takes his job to heart. But he doesn’t wear it on his sleeve. Instead, his legs do the talking. Those legs maintained a sustained crescendo during 2011 TDF stage 15 from Limoux to Montpellier. As described by The Irish Times, Pate and Lars Bak set a relentless tempo that day. “Five men formed a breakaway as soon as the field had left the town behind, but HTC’s two workhorses, Danny Pate and Lars Bak, responded by assembling their colleagues into a disciplined line that would sit on the front of the main bunch for the next four and a quarter hours,” the equivalent according to a quote from Mark Cavendish in the same article, of 190 kilometers. The scene of Danny on the front played many times during the 2011 TDF.

Although known primarily for the time trial skills that prolonged his lead in Montréal when his break-mates lost their desire to continue, Danny isn’t a stranger to climbing. He won the KOM competition in the 2005 Nature Valley Grand Prix, and placed third in the Tour of Ireland KOM in 2007.

Stage 15 2008 Tour de France Profile (

Then there’s that career-defining stage 15 in the 2008 TDF from Embrun to Prato Nevoso over the hors-categorie climb of the Col Agnel and finishing on a category one mountain. The four-man break established itself 12 k into the 183 k stage. Four hours and 51 minutes of climbing and descending later on the uphill finish, Danny crossed the line just ten seconds behind the stage winner, Simon Gerrans.

A article quoted Danny saying post-race that he wasn’t sure anyone in the break knew the Montréal race offered KOM points. Some might say Danny’s Montréal performance sprung out of the need for a new team in 2012, or mimicked earlier days when he attacked just to make things interesting. Those remain possibilities, but Danny’s results in Montréal’s stand on their own merits – or two long hard-working legs.

Danny Pate KOM Montreal Podium (Rob Jones,

[Link to Danny in the polka-dot jersey in the 2005 Nature Valley Grand Prix here.]

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