BOULDER, Colorado (VN) — One evening late last year, Danny Pate was high above Colorado Springs, Colorado, making his way down Pike’s Peak on an icy Barr Trail. With friends, he’d made an off-season jaunt up the Manitou Incline, a mile-long trail of railroad ties up a mountain, used for training by locals, Olympic hopefuls and, apparently, cyclists.
And upon his off-season face was a very thick mustache. A joke was made about keeping it for the season. Is that pro? Is that allowed? Apparently so, as the American began his 2013 campaign with a spot of hair on his upper lip — something that sticks out from the three-day scruff of most racers. (Because, in case one isn’t wise to the old-school racing rules, growing whiskers back after shaving them on race day takes energy, and one needs said energy for attacking.)
Pate is a bit of a legend in Colorado Springs, where he makes his off-season home. He shows up at the Saturday group ride and vanishes off the front of a 50-man group, a lucky one or two in his jet wash. Club riders talk about it for hours, often awestruck.
Rouleur Pate is up and running in his second year at the British outfit Sky, last year’s toast of the Tour de France as it touted la Grande Boucle’s top two finishers. Pate has spent the winter preparing for the season’s first-half races: Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie, and the Critérium du Dauphiné.
In an interview posted on the Sky Pro Cycling website Tuesday, Pate said it was easier coming into his second year knowing what to expect, and that he hopes to race the Giro d’Italia this spring and Colorado’s USA Pro Challenge in August.
“It’s always easier when you come back to what you know,” Pate said. “It’s a lot different to last year in that regard. You never know what to expect when you change teams. It’s easier for me now as I know what is expected of me and how the team works … Arriving back at the training camp this year was a bit more relaxed. You still get through the same amount of workload, but mentally it’s easier. I like it here a lot. I find that, even though things are rigid in terms of schedule, it makes things work better. Certain things happen more smoothly and it doesn’t feel rigid when you’re amongst it.”
Pate crashed on stage 3 of the Volta ao Algarve (Tour of the Algarve) earlier this month, but finished the race. He is now tuning up for his March calendar, which includes Paris-Nice, which opens Saturday, and the Volta a Catalunya (Tour of Catalonia). Ultimately, Pate hopes to help Tour champ Bradley Wiggins in his pursuit of a pink jersey.
“I felt good at the training camp to begin the year. I’m healthy and I’ve been riding well. It’s not that the first few races of the year weren’t important, but they aren’t as important as Paris-Nice. I think I’m on track to be in good shape there which is what I’m the most excited about,” he said.
“I’m trying to be a part of the Giro team first and foremost,” he said. “Also for me personally, I really want to do the tour of Colorado [USA Pro Challenge]. That would be a home race for me and that’s one of the things I’m potentially looking forward to the most.”
His mustache would certainly fit in more in the Rocky Mountains than Asturias at the Vuelta a España.