Report: Gretsch wins USA Pro Cycling Challenge Prologue

Photo Album & Report: HTC-Highroad’s Patrick Gretsch kicked off the USA Pro Cycling Challenge with a win today at the prologue’s individual time trial in Colorado Springs. Gretsch finished ahead of Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervelo) and Brent Bookwalter (BMC) for the second win of his professional career.

“It was a very beautiful course with the mountains,” said sport director, Brian Holm, “Which also gave us very fast downhills. It was a slower start but they were picking up a lot of speed in the middle. Then at about five [kilometers] to the finish it was pretty flat, and Gretsch had great form the whole way through.”

Podium after the prologue and Gretsch is on the top step ahead of Christian Vande Velde (left) and Brent Bookwalter (right). Photo: John Pierce/PhotoSport International UK USA Asia

The best young rider’s jersey went to HTC-Highroad’s Tejay Van Garderen, who finished seventh, and the most aggressive rider’s jersey went to team mate Danny Pate. “It’s a great result today, I had a feeling one of about four of our guys could take it, but to see three of our guys on the podium is fantastic.” “It’s the first leader’s jersey the team’s ever gotten in Colorado, so we’re very proud of it and we don’t intend to give it up without a fight.”

The HTC-Highroad men’s squad will do their best to defend the leader’s jersey tomorrow against what Holm describes as a “very smart field” of riders. Today’s win is the forty-ninth for the Highroad men’s team this season and the ninety eighth for Team HTC-Highroad in 2011.

BMC’s Bookwalter Third – Evans Finishes Ninth
Brent Bookwalter’s third-place finish led four BMC Racing Team riders in the top 12 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge prologue Monday in Colorado. Bookwalter, the 13th rider of 130 to start the 8.3 kilometer race against the clock, said he pushed a 56 x 11 on his BMC timemachine TM01 on the mostly downhill course. Only stage winner Patrick Gretsch (HTC-Highroad) and runner-up Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervélo) were faster.

“The last kilometer had a little uphill kick to it,” Bookwalter said. “I was paying big for my earlier efforts there. To be only a few seconds off Gretsch, I felt like I did a good time. I might have also gotten a little lucky with the wind than the later guys.” In addition to Bookwalter’s best result of the season, the BMC Racing Team also placed George Hincapie sixth, Cadel Evans was ninth and Jeff Louder was 12th. Evans said the course “wasn’t exactly my thing” and that he felt OK in his first race since winning the Tour de France. “Give me a couple days and I might be able to go all right,” Evans said. The adjustment to altitude is the biggest thing. I think the guys who rode Utah are at an advantage having been here another week.”

Gretsch and Schleck in the Prologue. Photo: John Pierce/PhotoSport International UK USA Asia

Audio Interviews (BMC)

Cadel Evans:

Brent Bookwalter:

Leopard Trek’s Jens Voigt fifth
Jens Voigt finished fifth on the Colorado Springs prologue that opened the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. The 8.3 kilometer race against the clock began in the Garden of the Gods and concluded in downtown Colorado Springs. Voigt came across the line in 8:35, seven seconds behind stage winner Patrick Gretsch (HTC Highroad).

“The effort was short and vicious — like every prologue,” said the popular German. “It begins uphill in the Garden of the Gods, and I started with what I would say was maybe 80-90% effort. I was afraid of the altitude, and I didn’t want to completely explode — so I saved a little bit.”

The uphill section gave way to a winding descent before a lefthand corner dumped the riders out onto a wide flat straightaway to the finish. “I recovered on the descent,” Voigt said. “I freewheeled and went as small as possible to be aerodynamic. I focused on breathing. I did deep, controlled breaths.”

“At the bottom of the descent, there was the sharp left hand turn,” Voigt continued. “I don’t think anyone could pedal through that corner. From then on, it was more or less straight ahead. I put my head down and pedaled as fast as I could.”

Before the prologue, Voigt took a long warm-up. “This might not make sense to people who don’t know cycling, but generally speaking, the shorter the time trial, the longer the warm-up,” explained Voigt. “If you only have eight minutes time for a prologue, you have no chance to find your rhythm. You have to be sharp and ready to go from the start. If it’s a 50K time trial, you have five or ten minutes to find your rhythm, so it was a long warm-up today.”

Garden of the Gods – Photo: John Pierce/PhotoSport International UK USA Asia

Fans gathered around the team bus long before the riders showed up and stuck around until the very last rider, Andy Schleck, had headed to the start house. “American fans don’t have a chance to see us that often, so they are a little more enthusiastic than the fans we see in Europe,” commented Voigt. “At a race in Belgium, they come out to see Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) or Tom Boonen (Quickstep). They still come around our bus, but it equals out a bit more at European races because there is more to see.”

“We are here with the two Schleck brothers in a race the month after the podium in Paris, so it’s not surprising that we have biggest crowd at our bus,” continued Vogit. “It also helps that they’re not only good rider. They’re cool guys. They enjoy interacting with their fans.”

Voigt has noticed another different between American fans and European fans. “American fans — they know everything,” noted Voigt. “They know my name. They know the name of my cat. They know my start time. They probably know what I did yesterday for my training. It was impressive at first, but now it’s something that doesn’t surprise me. It’s always nice. It’s not something I would ever take as a given or expect on a daily basis. It’s nice that they take the time to know us.”

Voigt anticipates large crowds at the stage start in Salida tomorrow, as well. The second stage takes the riders from Salida to Crested Butte. The 159.4 kilometer course features the Monarch Pass to provide the peloton with its first taste of high altitude racing. Monarch Pass reaches 3450 meters in elevation with a gain of nearly 1000 meters over 21 kilometers.

“We will make the team plan on the way to race in the camping car,” said Voigt. “The way I see it is this. We have a climb that comes early in the race, so we try to get over that. Monarch Pass comes after 40 kilometers, and as far as I can tell, that sends us straight uphill. We will have two choices. Ease up. That is Plan A. Everybody is conscious about the altitude, and the race is still long. We go at a controlled speed.”

“Then, there is Plan B,” Voigt continued. “Everybody goes bang as hard as they can. Someone attacks because they feel good, so they go and everybody else has to follow. After 40K we have the peloton exploded into 50 little groups just creeping along hoping to make it to the finish.

“It’s hard to say how it will go,” he concluded. “If I have to chose, I will guess bang — racing all day.”

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Click a photo to display, use your cursor keys to move left and right. Click the picture to close. Photo: John Pierce/PhotoSport International UK USA Asia


1.Patrick Gretsch (Ger) HTC-Highroad     0:08:28
2.Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo     0:00:02
3.Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team     0:00:04
4. Robert Förster (Ger) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling     0:00:05
5. Jens Voigt (Ger) Leopard Trek     0:00:07
6. George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team
7. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioShack     0:00:08
8. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad
9. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
10. Ryan Roth (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10     0:00:10
11. Danny Pate (USA) HTC-Highroad     0:00:11
12. Jeffry Louder (USA) BMC Racing Team
13. Carlos Eduardo Alzate Escobar (Col) Team Exergy     0:00:13
14. Adrian Hegyvary (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling     0:00:14
15. Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling     0:00:15
16. David Zabriskie (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo
17. Benjamin King (USA) Team RadioShack     0:00:16
18. Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
19. Francois Parisien (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10     0:00:17
20. Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo

67. Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Team Garmin-Cervelo @ 38 secs

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