Danny Pate (HTC-Highroad) secured the USA Pro Cycling Challenge Most Aggressive Rider Jersey after placing eleventh in the opening prologue on Monday. The Colorado Springs native was accustomed to the 8.2km parcours having grown up training on the same roads.
"I've been looking at the course for the last 15 years, I think," Pate said. "I always chased cars down Colorado Boulevard with Mike Creed. We all used to ride about an hour a day; we'd ride to Manitou and motorpace back and then come to Chipotle, or something."
"I knew all the roads quite a bit," he said. "I really don't ride Ridge Road very much - I stay away from there, especially not up it. I know all the roads from living here forever. It didn't seem too huge of an advantage but it was a great course."
Pate’s teammate Patrick Gretsch won the prologue and will wear the leader’s jersey into the first road race stage. Americans Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervelo) placed second and Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) was third. The race started at the Garden of the Gods Park and descended into downtown Colorado Springs.
"Finishing downtown, starting in Garden of the Gods, I think they picked a great course," Pate said. "They shut down Colorado Boulevard, which shows the commitment they had to the race to try to make it as good as they can. I thought it went really well today and it will be cool if the event comes back."
HTC-Highroad brought a strong team to the USA Pro Cycling Challenge that also includes overall contender Tejay Van Garderen along with Caleb Fairly, Craig Lewis, Hayden Roulston, Peter Velits and Lachlan Norris.
"The guys still come to every race and want to win," Pate said. "It's not expectations from anyone else; everyone comes to race and race hard. We have a lot of motivated riders here and hopefully can ride a strong rest of the week."
Team owner Bob Stapleton announced the team would disband at the end of the season due to a lack of sponsor funding. The team won close to 500 races in its four-year term.
"It's a bummer that the team's ending," Pate said. "I think we all wanted it to continue. I don't think anyone wanted to leave. Some of us still had contracts and some of us didn't but in the end that didn't matter because I think everyone wanted to stay."
"As for morale, I think almost everyone on the team already had places to go and even though it's sad to leave they're going to go somewhere that will probably be good. You see a lot of teams that come apart and the riders nose dive a bit but I think that the guys are still riding well shows the class of the whole team and organization.