BRECKENRIDGE – Kaitlin Antonneau glanced up and saw Elvis. She saw a guy hauling a giant cookie. And she saw bubbles, a whole bunch of bubbles.
After all the Colorado Springs cyclist had put her mind and body through Friday, a hallucination or two wouldn’t have seemed out of the ordinary.
Stage 2 of the inaugural Colorado Classic packed plenty of punch, with 3,660 feet of elevation gain over 32 miles. But Antonneau wasn’t losing her mind. She was just climbing the sinister stretch of road called Moonstone.
And the higher she climbed, the louder it got.
“It was really cool towards the top of Moonstone with all the people and the bubble machine and the noise,” Antonneau said. “You couldn’t even hear yourself breathing. It was just chaos.”
It was a party, Colorado style.
And the life of the party proved to be Canadian Sara Poidevin. The Rally Cycling rider attacked on the fourth of five laps, and the field had no answer. Poidevin continued to stretch her lead on the steep roads of this ski town and made it to the line 2 minutes ahead of Tayler Wiles, who rides for UnitedHealthCare. Abigail Mickey of Colavita/Bianchi was third, 2:36 behind.
“She’s a really good climber so I think that fourth lap she just took off and she didn’t look back” said Antonneau, who finished fifth in the stage and sixth in the overall standings. “I’m not surprised she won today. She’s had really good form in July and August and, yeah, she’s good.”
The top three in Stage 2 proved to be the top three overall as the time gaps Friday made the results a day earlier in Colorado Springs pretty much obsolete.
That’s what happens when you add altitude to an already challenging layout.
“It was hard, to put it lightly,” Springs resident and 13-time cyclocross national champion Katie Compton said. “It’s tough at altitude 'cause you don’t have as many matches to burn so you have to be careful not to go red line too many times.”
The pain and exhaustion worn on many of the riders’ faces told the story of this stage.
Stage 1 winner Jenn Valente, a student at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, suffered on the ascent, finishing 8:30 behind Poidevin. She was 27th on the stage and overall.
It could have been worse, the riders insisted afterward. The climb could have been done alone, without Elvis, without Batman and without a psychedelic cowboy offering words of encouragement every lap.
“They’re drinking and cheering and music’s going so it’s pretty great,” Compton said. “I think that’s the only thing that gets me over the top.”