Column: USA Pro Challenge riders suffer in silence

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Dale Strode

The silence was overwhelming.

In stark contrast to the shrieking whistles and siren bursts from the Colorado State Patrol motorcycles, the peloton — as it steadily worked its way up Independence Pass — was eerily silent.

The time was just before 11 a.m. on Thursday.

The cyclists in the USA Pro Challenge were nearly 9 miles into the climb from Aspen up the pass — just past the climbing wall and just below the Lincoln Creek turnoff.

The duo of Laurent Didier of Trek Factory Racing and Janier Acevedo of Cannondale-Garmin had managed an early escape, charging up the initial steep Difficult cut and through the lower narrows.

Two chasers followed, mixed among race vehicles and yellow neutral-service vehicles.

Then, quiet. Golf tournament quiet.

BMC led the silent peloton; the yellow-bearing BMC boys methodically stamped out pedal stroke after pedal stroke. No one spoke a word.

No strained breathing.

Even the bicycles were virtually silent — no gear changes, no carbon-fiber squeaks.

The silence lasted the length of the passing peloton, quickly replaced by the fleet of team cars that chased the cyclists up to the 12,095-foot summit of Independence Pass.

Once the race van passed along with the last state patrol SUV, the silence returned.

With the road closed to vehicular traffic, soon the silence was punctuated only by the sound of recreationl cyclists heading back down Independence Pass.

Pay days

What is the numbers game for the USA Pro Challenge?

The cyclists themselves are under contract and paid by their teams.

Here’s the prize money for the Colorado stage race:

The daily stage winners in the 2015 USA Pro Challenge win $4,388.97 or 3,615 euros.

Second-place paid $2,191.45. And the third place on the podium yielded $1,098.76.

Daily awards for the general classification leader, sprint leader, King of the Mountains leader, best young rider, best Colorado rider and most aggressive are $500 each.

The overall general classification winner will earn $15,361.40.

Second overall pays $7,670.08. Third: $3,845.66.

The jersey category winners at the end of the seven-stage race will receive $2,500 (KOM, spring, young rider, Colorado rider, most aggressive.