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For Mike Creed, racing into hometown Colorado Springs: “will hit me in the face when it comes”

August 24, 2012

Mike Creed (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefits) before the Stage 4 start in Aspen

The USA Pro Challenge Stage 5 finishes in Mike Creed’s hometown of Colorado Springs today. The Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies rider would love to arrive first and salute the crowd with his arms in the air.

But even as late as 24 hours before the start of Stage 5, Creed said he couldn’t really think about it yet. “It’s hard. It’s pretty distant because I’m here in this bike racing bubble with these guys. You kind of detach to a certain level because it is a race.” Tomorrow, he said, might as well be next week. His task on Stage 5, which began with the climb up Independence Pass and surely meant rain and cross-winds, required 100 percent focus.

He said the meaning of racing on home roads will probably start to hit him when he reaches Divide and then Woodland Park and Garden of the Gods. He rides those roads all the time and that knowledge gives him an advantage. He thinks most teams might look at the stage profile, which appears to be a downhill run, and underestimate the hills leading into Divide and Garden of the Gods. Those hills could act as launch pads.

“If I don’t make the early break I will definitely be looking to do a little surprise attack up through Balanced Rock into Ridge Road and just try to get onto Colorado Ave. as quick as I can,” he said.

Creed’s performance to date in the event places him 24th overall in the GC, one minute and four seconds behind the overall leader. At the Aspen finish Creed arrived with the lead group consisting predominantly of ProTour riders that came in seconds after winner Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp). Creed’s GC standing could put a solo break-away win, like Jens Voigt’s victory on Stage 4, in jeopardy.

He’ll also face the aspirations of teams with strong sprinters. Stage 5 is the last opportunity for them to celebrate a stage win. In Utah Garmin-Sharp’s sports director Charlie Wegelius said Tyler Farrar was still pretty “beat up” from his multiple crashes in the Tour de France. Farrar showed by winning the first stage in Colorado that he’s recovered and primed for more wins. Creed also expects UnitedHealthcare to work hard to see Stage 5 end in a field sprint.

Creed rode for the U.S. Postal and Discovery Channel teams early in his career, followed by Team Slipstream/Chipotle, Rock Racing, and Team Type 1. He’s a previous national champion in track and on the road.

He traveled to race in Europe at 17 years-old, first in Austria. “After that I moved to Italy when I was 19 and there to Belgium,” he said, “so after that you’re like, no way can I stay in school.”

After the recent fire that destroyed hundreds of homes in Colorado Springs, Creed initiated a fundraiser to benefit the Pike Peak Red Cross and fire victims. He set a goal of $20,000 and just closed the effort by raising a total of $35,000 via Twitter.

Speaking at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, Creed said, “A dream would be top ten overall [in Colorado] but that might be a long shot.”

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