Stage 2: Montrose-Crested Butte, 99.2 miles
1. Tejay van Garderen, BMC Racing Team, 3:52:24
2. Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Sharp, same time
3. Ivan Rovny, RusVelo, at 0:06
7. Jose Dombrowski, Bontrager-Livestrong, at 0:12
8. Lucas Euser, SpiderTech-C10, s.t.
11. Janez Brajkovic, Astana, s.t.
Stage 2 of the USA Pro Challenge was all about the finish on Crested Butte. It was predicted ahead of time that the last climb from the town of Crested Butte would determine the winner of the stage — and it sure did. Our “king of conservation” Tejay van Garderen won the stage with an incredible final push up the last two miles, and all that energy conservation we talked about during stage 1’s analysis paid off with a huge win and the leader’s jersey.
While unfortunately we don’t have Tejay’s power file from the win, we do have three great files from Lucas Euser (Team SpiderTech-C10), Jani Brajkovic (Team Astana) and Joe Dombrowski (Bontrager-Livestrong), the new bearer of the best young rider jersey.
Lucas Euser placed a fine eighth place on stage 2, 12 seconds back on van Garderen. He cracked out 324W in the final 2.1 miles to the finish line at the top of Mt. Crested Butte. Reminder, Euser is only 128 pounds, and the finish was at 9180 feet, so that translated to 5.6 w/kg at altitude. Using my scale from the stage-1 analysis, we can safely add 15 percent to that number to reflect what Euser could have done at sea level.
In other words, Euser did the equivalent of 6.2 w/kg in the final seven minutes of the stage. That’s the wattage needed to win a stage in a grand tour. Euser is climbing with the best riders in the world, proven by the fact that five of the top nine riders in the stage-2 finish have also finished in the top 10 at the Tour de France.
Jani Brajkovic was right behind Euser in 11th place and with the same finishing time. Brajkovic again confirmed his excellent form and power output, nailing 360W for the final two miles to the finish line.
At 140 pounds, he was putting out 5.6 w/kg during that finish. Brajkovic’s peak 20-minute power in the stage came in the first 35 minutes of the race. As in stage 1, there were many attacks off the bat, with riders going off the front and getting into breakaways hoping for the one that would stick. His peak 20-minute power was 291W while the Nomalized Power for that 20 minutes was 314W, highlighting the stochastic nature of the stage opener.
Young gun Joe Dombrowski (Livestrong-Bontrager) is the new sheriff in town. He’s out to show all these old pros how it’s done, and he is “packing heat.” Dombrowski is having a standout year, with an overall GC win at the “Baby Giro,” incredible performances at the tours of California and Utah, and a great showing at Cascade. Dombrowski is well on his way towards bigger and better things. He is also near and dear to my heart as a fellow Virginian who has ridden many of the same training roads I have.
Dombrowski finished in seventh place right in front of Lucas Euser and took over the best young rider jersey on stage 2. His power file was very similar in profile to that of Euser’s and Brajkovic’s, and in the final two miles, he did 346W (5.5w/kg with his weight of 137 pounds). In the last two minutes of the race he came on strong, averaging 416W. Timing that final power output was critical to his high placing, and he caught quite a few riders just in that last few hundred meters to the line.
Stage 3 will be huge, with both Cottonwood and Independence Pass on the menu. Each are long climbs that top out at more than 12,000 feet. This should be an exciting finish as well, as it’s a fast downhill to Aspen!
Editor’s note: For more USA Pro Challenge race files and analysis visit trainingpeaks.com/usapcc