Springs rider Pate claims most aggressive jersey

Colorado Springs resident Danny Pate won the most aggressive jersey Monday in the prologue of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Photo by CHRISTIAN MURDOCK, THE GAZETTE

Danny Pate is a hometown guy on a mission – to prove he can hang with the big boys.

The Falcon High School graduate got off to a productive start Monday in the prologue of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, rounding a 5.18-mile course in 8 minutes, 38 seconds to finish in 11th place and win the orange jersey for being the stage’s most aggressive rider.

Pate joked he has studied the prologue route “for the last 15 years. I always chased cars down Colorado Avenue. I don’t ride Ridge Road very much. I do know all the roads from living here forever. It didn’t seem like a huge advantage, but it was a great course.”

Training at altitude wasn’t so much of a plus for him, Pate contested. “In the end, there is a certain time period you spend at altitude that can maybe help, but sometimes you spend months at altitude, and you still don’t perform as well as other guys,” he said. “It’s about doing everything right. You have to line up all the right things – sleep right and eat right. But that is the case with all the races. You just have to take it seriously.”

Return to Springs not a done deal

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Race chairman Shawn Hunter reiterated that “it’s going to be very difficult to not come back (to Colorado Springs) next year.” Yet he tempered excitement by cautioning that an official announcement won’t be made until there’s a “very deep assessment” next month.

“All the host cities have done a phenomenal job,” Hunter said, adding that representatives from several prospective cities (Boulder is tops among them) are traveling this week with the race. “There are some great parts of the state that we would love to showcase.”

Race brings exposure to USOC

U.S. Olympic Committee chief executive officer Scott Blackmun presented flowers to the podium finishers, joined by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Springs Mayor Steve Bach. Blackmun said the finish line near the USOC’s headquarters “sends a message that we’re serious about sport in this country and in this city. … It’s great for the people who live here to be able to reach out and touch the athletes and see them compete.”

BRIAN GOMEZ, THE GAZETTE

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