DENVER (CBS4) – Mere seconds separated the overall leaders of the USA Pro Challenge during the final stage in Denver on Sunday.
Taylor Phinney from Boulder blistered the time trial course with the fastest time, but it was Christian Vande Velde who took home the yellow jersey. He had to make up nine seconds. He did that, and then some to win the second annual USA Pro Challenge.
“We have a nice party planned at the boss’s house in Denver,” Vande Velde told CBS4’s Vic Lombardi. “We’re going to have a good time tonight, I guarantee.”
Vande Velde said he thought he was going to pull off the win after the first kilometer.
“I’m horrible at starts, that’s my Achilles heel, bar none. But I was going 35 miles an hour after the fist (kilometer). I think I was pretty confident after that,” Vande Velde said.
He still said there was some doubt after he crossed the finish line.
“You never know. Those last couple of corners, I definitely didn’t take any risks and I was kind of cursing myself for doing that, just thinking if it came down to tenths of a second I was going to never forgive myself,” Vande Velde said. “I rode my heart out the whole race and it worked out for the better this time.”
Vande Velde said it was definitely the biggest win of his career.
“Fifteen years into my pro career and then to do it in front of these crowds, that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “It could be a big race, but with these crowds, it makes it all the more better.”
With the latest in the Lance Armstrong scandal still fresh in the minds of fans, Vande Velde said the USA Pro Challenge restored some integrity in the game.
“There are a lot of great kids coming up and the sport is very healthy. It’s great to see.”
It’s almost a sure bet the USA Pro Challenge is here to stay. Riders and fans alike both love the race. Ironically it was Armstrong who played a huge role into breaking bike racing back to Colorado.