The sound of the crowd is almost deafening as the BMC rider makes his way towards the finish line in the middle of the Crested Butte ski resort. The jumbo-tron above the crowds are depicting the attacks that are taking place on the mountain below. Colombian rider (and the favourite name written in road paint) Camilo Castiblanco of EPM – UNE rockets forward and the drumming on the barriers becomes impossibly louder. It seems as though the South American has done it. Until, suddenly, he hasn’t and BMC’s Mathias Frank appears out of nowhere, jukes to the left and drops Castiblanco.
Looks turn from the screens on the right to the roadway on the left. The ground shakes with the rider and while it is loud here it is even louder on the approach. The cheers and screams are lifting and carrying the rider towards the line. Then, with a bob of his red helmet, he is here. But he is not alone. There is a Garmin-Barracuda rider that has somehow, miraculously, attached himself to the rider.
This other rider looks, breathes and sweats like someone has melded Zabriskie, Vande Velde and Danielson into one rider. Now this rider is attacking and moving ahead of the black and red BMC kit, an action which has caused people to take their decibels to new heights. People who were calmly standing next to each other a few minutes earlier are now groping out blindly at those around them. As if to say “are you seeing this?” by taking a fistful of sweatshirt or jacket of the person next to them and twisting it towards the action before them.
The moment is ready for explosion as the racer in BMC kit retaliates with a final death blow that knocks the Garmin rider back into his saddle and takes the win, the fans of Crested Butte cannot believe what they have just seen. “Can you believe that? Did you see what just happened?” These questions are aimed at no one in particular, they are handed out freely as the other riders of the peloton come straggling in, the presence of two 4,000ft + climbs evident in their blank stares.
The day has been a surprise and a success and everyone seems happy. That is until the real secret is revealed. The winner of the stage is not, in fact, Mathias Frank. In the mix up on the final climb — the runners, the motos, the effects of altitude on the brain — the television screens have made a critical error. This is not Mathias Frank at all, this is the rider that Colorado has been waiting for, long since talked about and every time a Grand Tour is on, awarded him a white Best Young Rider Jersey – The Stage Two Winner of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge – Tejay van Garderen.
Keep in touch with Rapha North America on twitter/instagram @Rapha_N_America and the Rapha Mobile Cycle Club @RaphaMCCNA for the rest of the week as we make our way towards Denver, Colorado.
Previous posts from the USA Pro Cycling Challenge 2012: