UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team wrap up a successful Colorado Classic
DENVER – Travis McCabe led the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team to three podium places and the white Drink Rino sprint jersey over the tough four-day race at altitude at inaugural Colorado Classic this week.
McCabe scoops up Drink Rino Sprint jersey
“I’m definitely happy winning the sprint jersey,” McCabe said after the race. “It shows the consistency that I have. I feel like I rode great all weekend and am feeling strong after the Tour of Utah, but I’m a little disappointed to not come away with the win. Two second places and a third is great, but yeah, it’s a little bittersweet.”
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling enjoyed a diverse parcours and plenty of fans at the first Colorado Classic.
“The shorter stage races make for a more dynamic racing style and format that you don’t really see over in Europe. I think the race was great,” McCabe said. “Seeing the amount of people who are out at this race. Colorado is a cycling state and everyone is out there cheering you on. It makes for a great environment. The people that we saw on Moonstone were incredible. The fans are great and I think it’s a very cool venue that they have set up. I think there will be a lot of growth in the future.”
Stage by stage
The opening day of the Colorado Classic saw Travis McCabe fly to second place in Colorado Springs after the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team.
“The plan today was to go for the win and the team really rallied behind me to make sure that happen,” McCabe said. “Today wasn’t easy, with these shorter stages they make for faster racing and force the peloton to always stay on the pedals.”
John Murphy (Holowesko Citadel) nabbed victory after 150.4km of racing on a six-lap circuit of 25 kilometer circuit that featured a short, sharp climb through the Garden of the Gods city park.
It took 20 kilometers before a break of six got away and got a gap of eventually 5 minutes the peloton committed to chasing.
Sebastian Alexandre, the team director, said the team’s goal was to place Daniel Eaton as the designated driver to bring back the break, and soon Trek-Segafredo followed suit as well as Israel Cycling Academy.
“Daniel Eaton was incredible today and pretty much reeled the break back by himself,” McCabe said.
On the last lap the rain gods decided to come out and play, creating rivers for the riders to race through. However, the weather didn’t change the fact the race would come down to a sprint finish.
McCabe was positioned well behind John Murphy (Holowesko-Citadel), but came up a bit late.
“Travis did very well but while was short on the victory,” Alexandre said. “He showed everyone that it doesn’t matter if it is a flat or uphill sprint he is always there and knocking the door for the victory.”
The next stage was a short, yet painful 10 laps of a 10.3 kilometer circuit around the city of Breckenridge.
It was Daniel Eaton’s turn to fly the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling colors, representing the team in a two-up break that lasted the majority of the 103-kilometer stage.
Eaton and TJ Eisenhart (Holowesko) escaped on the first of 10 laps of a 10.3 kilometer circuit and built up an advantage of nearly two minutes over the course of four laps until Eaton lost contact on the formidable Moonstone climb.
“It was a good opportunity to have someone go up the road so Travis (McCabe) could go for sprint points,” team director Seba Alexandre said.
The altitude played a big factor in stage outcome. McCabe felt good, Alexandre said, and attacked at one point. A mechanical broke his rhythm and he ended up having to race for the points to try and keep his jersey. At the end of the day, Eisenhart claimed the sprinters jersey.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it work this time, but we will definitely come out and try again,” Alexandre said.
On a day that featured torrential downpours, hail and high winds, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team prevailed as Travis McCabe sprinted his way back into the points jersey after spending the day in the chase group.
“We knew it was going to be hard and the team did great,” McCabe said after the stage.
Manuel Senni (BMC) and Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly) made up the composition of the break, which held their advantage to the end of the stage, 55 seconds ahead of their pursuers. McCabe won the sprint for third out of the following group of 22 riders.
The team came together to get McCabe into position on a hard day of 127.7 kilometres around the Denver area. The plan was to get into the day’s breakaway and see McCabe restore the sprint jersey. Both goals were successful.
“It worked out well because we had Jonny (Clarke) in the break and I’m climbing really well right now so I was able stay in the front group with about 20 guys,” McCabe said. “I knew if the break was going to stay away I could definitely podium. This was a perfect example of what bike racing is all about. Sometimes it doesn’t go your way but you have to make the most of it, and that’s what I did.”
On the last flat and fast 120km finale, featuring ten 12-km circuits around the downtown area of Denver, the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team worked together to deliver McCabe across the line for the inevitable bunch gallop. In a pre-race interview, McCabe said he valued seasoned veteran and teammate Greg Henderson for his lead out skills, along with the rest of the team whose job it was to keep tabs on the situation and make sure it was the best scenario possible for their sprinter.
“It was another great week of racing for the team,” Alexandre said. “After seeing Travis climbing and sprinting in Utah we knew that we were going to work during the race. From the first lap, the team controlled the race to make sure field sprint was going to happen.”
Alexandre added that he liked the race style of shorter races in a circuit format.
“The six riders team for sure create a different dynamic and race can be a bit more interesting,” he said. “Also the circuits gives people the opportunity to the see the riders more than just one time.”
The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team have the Tour of Alberta next on the racing calendar. The Canadian stage race starts August 30 and continues through September 3.