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Watch for Kiel Reijnen of Team Type 1-SANOFI in the USA Pro Challenge

August 21, 2012

Kiel Reijnen (Team Type 1)

Boulder resident and Team Type 1-SANOFI rider Kiel Reijnen missed the USA Pro Challenge last year as he was still recovering from an infection that set back almost his entire season. “It was heart-breaking,” he said, to not participate in a race on his home roads. Watching his Colorado pro-cyclist friends race was exciting, with his disappointment the exact opposite.

Kiel rode for Jelly Belly from 2008 to 2010 before signing with Team Type 1-SANOFI in 2011. He’s raced all over the world. While he’s perhaps best known for his overall Tour of Rwanda victory in 2011, he’s finished third twice in the U.S. nationals road race and earned third and this year ninth in the GC at the high-altitude Tour of Qinghai Lake in China.

This year Kiel’s racing in Colorado. He got off to an auspicious start by finishing Stage 1 into Telluride in seventh place. It’s right where he needs to be, high on the general classification from the get-go, because this under-the-radar rider holds high ambitions for this race.

He feels the course in general suits him. Calling himself an all-arounder who can climb better than the sprinters and sprint better than the climbers, “I’ve done well in all the different disciplines and I certainly train to continue to excel in all three of them,” he said the weekend before the race, referring to climbing, sprinting, and time trialing.

Kiel sees opportunities for a stage win in Colorado. “If I can get through a couple of these really difficult hilly stages and it’s a flat finish or even  just a slight rise to the finish but it’s a group of 20 or 15 guys sprinting, I stand a really good chance of getting a stage result from that.” He’s targeting the Mt. Crested Butte finish today as well as Stage 3 into Aspen. According to Kiel, many of the sprinters will suffer on the Stage 3 Cottonwood and Independence Passes, setting up the finish for a small group sprint similar to the conclusion of the same stage in 2011.

“I’d like to get a good general classification result,” he said. “There’s some phenomenal riders here so it won’t be easy.”

The ascent up Flagstaff on Stage 6, Kiel believes, could produce the biggest time gaps in the race; he thinks that’s where the GC will be decided. “I know that climb by heart, I‘ve done it more times than I can count. It’s a really difficult climb. The steepest pitch is at the bottom, so it’s real easy to go in too hard and blow up,” he said. “The [course] before you even get to the climb is so difficult. Lee Hill is right behind my house, and so I know that climb really well; I know that descent really well.”

Kiel continued, “The run into the Flagstaff climb is probably going to be the most difficult part. You go up 10th Street and it’s a legitimate climb before you even get to the climb. So you have to be attentive at the front and not suffering up that to even have a chance at doing something on Flagstaff.” He expects riding by friends and family will fill his tank with extra motivation.

However the event as a whole is difficult enough, he said, that any stage could prove to be the most difficult, especially factoring in how the sixteen teams’ strategies and the prizes they’re aiming for on each stage can shift tactics on the road.

Kiel Reijnen (Team Type 1) left, with teammate Alessandro Bazzana sprinting to second on Stage 1 of the 2012 USA Pro Challenge

During the week prior to the overall start Kiel’s Team Type 1-SANOFI teammates joined him in Boulder where he shared his knowledge about local roads. “I’m trying to provide as much intel to the team as I can,” he said, “because the more they know the better off they’ll be and the better off they are the better off we are as a unit.”

Kiel gains a lot of satisfaction out of working as part of a team. As he crossed the finish line in Stage 1 of the USA Pro Challenge, he wore a big smile as he realized teammate Alessandro Bazzana would stand on the podium in Team Type 1 colors because he had pulled out a second place on the stage.

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