ASPEN, Colo. (VN) — I do not know a lot (read anything) about car racing, but I just finished reading a biography of Formula One legend Ayrton Senna and gained a little bit of insight. As I was reading the book I couldn’t help but see a lot of parallels between F1 and professional cycling. Aspiring drivers move up through lower leagues before getting to the top of the sport, the way cyclists move up through Continental and Pro Continental teams before reaching the WorldTour. At this point I’m beginning to ramble, and forgetting that this is a journal for a cycling site not a car site.
One thing I found particularly interesting, though, about Formula One is that the start is critical, and the racers always rip off the line. In cycling, this is not always the case, especially on the first day of a hard, seven-day stage race at altitude. For example, last week at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah we had two days of, I don’t want to say easy racing, but long, grinding, and certainly not explosive stages before the racing really heated up.
The kickoff stage of the USA Pro Challenge around Aspen on Monday felt a bit more like an F1 start than a slow grind off the line with six more hard days around the corner. Hopefully not too many of my competitors are reading this, because it is possible to likely that I am the only one sitting in my room right now drawing comparisons between our 40 kph bike race and F1 races that regularly cruise at over 200 kph. My fear now is that Peter Sagan will see this journal and strike early tomorrow in an attempt to eliminate me as a major contender from the sprints.
In all seriousness, though, it was great to get the race underway in Aspen. The views were beautiful, the crowds were bountiful, and the air was lacking. For me personally, it seems no matter how well or poorly I have prepared for a race I always have a feeling of “what is going to happen?” until the race gets underway. So for me, getting the first stage in the legs is always a big relief and answers some questions I have been asking myself leading into the race.
Luckily enough for me, the answers were pretty good on Monday. The race was still a bunch sprint, and not a true GC day, but it was by no means easy, with only 40 racers coming to the line together. I tend to have a bit of an affinity for the back, and often lack a sense of urgency when I should, so sure enough, I just snuck in as the last man in the group! Unfortunately, we dropped the ball in the leadout a little bit and did not get our sprinter/climber/everything racer, Tanner Putt, the placing he deserved. However, I must say it feels good to be part of a team where a mistake still yields two guys in the top 15 with one of them wearing the best young rider jersey (though Sagan leads the classification).
That is all for now. Tune in next time for more on racing without air and to find out who in the peloton I can persuade to push me up Independence Pass.
Editor’s note: Nate Wilson will be filing rider journals throughout the 2013 USA Pro Challenge, which started Monday, August 19 in Aspen, Colorado.