CRESTED BUTTE, CO – American cyclist and RadioShack team rider Levi Leipheimer took the win in the first stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Leipheimer came into the town of Crested Butte 20-30 riders back a noted “a lot of the riders were suffering from the altitude, guys were coming unglued.” Levi’s high altitude training paid off in the final miles as he was able to catch Schelck, and Evans in the last push up to the Mt Crested Butte Ski Resort.
Stage 1 had cyclist leaving Salida, Colorado around 11:00am in route to Mt. Crested Butte as they crossed up and over Monarch Pass and then into the town of Gunnison and finally the mountain bike capitol of the country, Crested Butte. With elevations upwards of 10,000 feet some of the riders felt simply awful.
“Altitude is playing a big factor, if guys came in hoping to do well not acclimated it wasn’t a good choice” said Levi Leipheimer in the press conference. Well aside from Andy Schelck who came into town 3 days ago “I’m surprised by 3rd place, this is the first time I have experienced altitude like this, the only time I have been this high is in an airplane!!!” Schelck went on to mention he spent his first day in Colorado out on the river fly fishing, this guy is an animal!!
Tomorrow’s Stage 2 starts in Gunnison, Colorado before heading over Cottonwood Pass to Aspen. Racer Brad White mentioned he had done the route once before but on skis as part of the classic Crested Butte to Aspen ski race called the Grand Traverse. Needless to say the local Crested Butte crowd was pumped to here Brad White talk about how much he loved Colorado and especially the town of Crested Butte!