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UPCC news round-up for 12/23/2011

December 27, 2011

It’s really easy, and most of all satisfying, to call oneself an expert. And it’s a short leap from there to judging others we do not know with an air of authority. Yes, I do it too.

Andy Schleck and Ivan Basso at the 2011 UPCC start in Golden

Ever since watching an almost hour long documentary about Andy Schleck’s preparation for the 2011 TDF, the one that opens with him in the shower, I’ve thought Andy relies too much on his natural talent and doesn’t work hard enough. Imagine how validated I felt when today news outlets published Bjarne Riis’ comments in four if not more languages about Andy Schleck not being serious enough to win the TDF.

Bjarne Riis should know Andy Schleck really well, well enough to have formed what one might call an expert opinion. But I’ll wager that the reasons why Andy Schleck hasn’t won the TDF are more complicated, multi-dimensional. A lot of factors contribute to a victory on the bike in the outdoors.

Similarly, organizers created the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge (UPCC) route and will create the 2012 UPCC route out of many competing requirements.

The 2011 route wasn’t perfect. Many armchair experts — and true experts such as procyclists — quickly pointed out it lacked a mountain-top finish, the type of finish that delivers a more selective and exciting race. The climbs didn’t feature the degree of steepness that separates the strongest from the strong enough. I can’t count how many times I described a downhill prologue as “stupid.”

But the race brought a week-long professional cycling race back to Colorado and added a race to the U.S. calendar. Thousands of spectators felt the air-sucking freight train of a bunch sprint and witnessed the expressions of men battling themselves in an individual time trial — and one in particular that portrayed what it meant to have lost the overall race as he sat in the grass part way up Vail Pass.

There’s a raging debate going on over at CyclingNews forum about the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, with what appears to be lots of black and white opinions about the 2011 and 2012 routes. Here’s one that recognized decisions about a race route are complicated:

“There’s a lot more to pulling off a race like this than just drawing lines on a map that you think will make the most gnarly, manly, kick a$$ stages, especially when it’s a first year event.

“I’m was actually surprised and pleased that the race was so well received by whole communities, not just bike racing fans. The crowds were enormous. That it has developed some momentum and has communities competing for stages bodes well for its future. If it continues on the same trajectory I can see it adding a stage or three and having the clout to bump up some of the difficulty and be more creative with the routes, but you have to start somewhere. If the race is going to have any staying power it has to make business sense and I think they did a great job getting the support that they did.”

The UPCC organizers say they want to add a mountain-top finish. This “expert” thinks we’ll see something at least close, even if there isn’t a finish on Flagstaff Mountain.

Viewpoint near top of Flagstaff climb, near Boulder

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