HTC-Highroad’s Danny Pate is aiming to win his first professional road race stars and stripes jersey at the USA Pro Cycling Championship p/b TD Bank on Memorial Day Monday. The veteran from Colorado Springs placed sixth in the championships time trial on Saturday, after reportedly suffering a mechanical en route.
“I had a better chance in the road race and my training and thinking has been going toward that,” Pate told Cyclingnews. “I did the time trial but I have more confidence in being competitive to win the road race.”
Pate is well known for winning an Under 23 world title in the time trial in 2001. More recently, he won a stage of the Giro d’Italia and a stage of the Tour de Georgia, along with taking top five overall placings at the Criterium International and Tour Mediterranean, all in 2009. Although he has won several championship events as an Elite and Amateur rider, he is still looking for that elusive professional title.
“I won the Under 23 road race before and the road amateur champion twice,” Pate said. “It would be great to win a jersey. We will still have a good team with three riders. Sometimes if you have a big team you end up having to ride the front and then you end up with only with three guys at the end anyway. I hope things will go well for us.”
HTC-Highroad’s three-man team will also include Tejay Van Garderen and Caleb Fairly. They will be up against more than 100 professionals that are registered to compete for the championships title. The 185km route includes several opening small circuits, followed by four large circuits over Paris Mountain, and concludes with additional small circuits. Last year Ben King, who now races for RadioShack, won the race after being in a breakaway almost all day.
“Paris Mountain is OK,” Pate said. “I think it is a good course but I don’t know why it is the exact same course each year. It would be nice to go backwards on the course because coming over Paris Mountain the other way is totally different. It is a great venue but I think they should change the course a little bit. I still think the course suits me but it’s just that it would be more tactics and just different.”
“I raced it last year and the tactics were rare,” he added. “It is dependent on who is in the race. Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer will not be there. I don’t know which Garmin riders will be there. It’s hard to say now how the race will play out because a quarter of the best guys might not be there. Depends on who goes.”
RadioShack’s Chris Horner recently won the Amgen Tour of California and his teammate Levi Leipheimer placed second. The pair announced that they would not be attending the USA Pro Cycling Championships in order to focus on their preparations for the Tour de France in July.
The field will include a series of domestic Continental and Professional Continental riders along with riders from Garmin-Cervelo, RadioShack, BMC Racing and Liquigas-Cannondale.
“I think the responsibility will fall on the teams with more riders to bring back small and early breakaways,” Pate said. “But if one of the big teams has a rider in the break then they won’t have to.”