Ben Jacques-Maynes, the reluctant king of Colorado’s mountains

  • By Spencer Powlison
  • Published Aug. 24, 2014
KOM leader Ben Jacques Maynes (Jamis) in the break during Stage 2. Photo: Casey B. Gibson |

DENVER (VN) — Wearing a USA Pro Challenge leader’s jersey can be a heavy burden.

Would any rider in the peloton turn down a shot at the yellow, green, or polka-dot shirts if they had a chance? Unlikely, but once you put on that special piece of kit, responsibilities shift.

Just ask Ben Jacques-Maynes, winner of this year’s king of the mountains (KOM) competition at the Colorado tour. He won’t even admit that he’s a climber, saying, “Absolutely not, no. I mean, I’m an opportunist. I like riding the breakaways, going hard.”

However, after finding his way into the early break on stage 1 and collecting 13 points in the KOM competition that day, the 35-year-old had to find his climbing legs in the thin air of the Colorado mountains.

“You saw in the first day, you know, [I was] attacking and trying to make a good race out of it,” said Jacques-Maynes. “You know the KOM jersey came out of that. I played it day by day, and it was … each day, if the opportunity was still there, I would keep going for it. Fortunately, it didn’t go away. Just had to keep on persevering.”

And persevere he did. The Californian found his way into the 12-man break on stage 2. He scooped up second-place points on McClure Summit on a long, rainy stage. Then, he cemented his lead in the stage 4 breakaway.

At the race’s conclusion in Denver, Jacques-Maynes said, “It got harder and harder. Luckily I made the breakaways on some of the shorter circuit races. Those did suit me quite well. The shorter, punchier climbs are something I can excel in a little bit better. And the long day into Crested Butte, that was a great opportunity to solidify the lead.”

It wasn’t his first KOM jersey — Jacques-Maynes won the classification at Tour of Utah in 2012 — but it still forced a shift in priorities.

For instance, in Colorado Springs, on stage 4, he had, what appeared to be a golden opportunity, to ride with Jens Voigt in a daring last-lap breakaway. Instead, the Jamis rider eased up after winning the KOM and drifted back to the chase.

“No, I knew I had to keep on planning ahead for the rest of the week,” Jacques-Maynes said of the stage 4 break. “I couldn’t go all in for one opportunity and not be able to have the legs to defend later. From the very beginning I was metering my effort, you know, planning ahead for the next day, and being able to ride a breakaway if the opportunity presented itself, and sprint at the top of mountains if I had the legs to do it. I had to take care of myself in order to make that happen. All of a sudden you stop thinking about GC time, you start thinking about what’s it gonna take to keep on sprinting at mountain tops. It’s not riding with the front group, I can tell you that.”

Is he prepared to challenge for KOM jerseys again?

“No, this is terrible,” Jacques-Maynes said. “This is really hard work, I’m really happy it paid off. If the opportunity presents itself, I won’t shirk away, but I wouldn’t recommend it.”

Instead, the 13-year journeyman looks ahead to more of the aggressive breakaway riding he’s known for.

“Getting up on the podium is a great opportunity … whether it’s a most aggressive jersey, a KOM jersey, a sprint jersey, whatever the opportunity presents itself, I’ll go for it,” said Jacques-Maynes.

“I’m pretty much done for the season,” he said. “I’m very happy.”

FILED UNDER: News / Road / USA Pro Cycling Challenge TAGS: /

Spencer Powlison

Spencer Powlison

When it comes to bike racing, Spencer is a jack-of-all-trades. He loves pinning on a number, whether it’s in a local criterium, a mountain bike enduro, a cyclocross national championship, or a gran fondo. Name any cycling discipline, and more likely than not, Spencer has ridden or raced it. He has been lucky enough to work in the bike industry for the majority of his adult life, from his time turning wrenches in a Vermont bike shop to his five-year tenure at the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

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