Late attack out of the breakaway seals surprise opening stage victory in Colorado

Thu 16 Aug 2018

A short, but technical stage one of the Colorado Classic yielded a surprise win out of the breakaway for a local rider whilst Mitchelton-SCOTT ensured they finished with the overall contenders after great work by Damien Howson.

Colorado native Gage Hect (Aevolo) managed to hold off the chasing peloton to seal a memorable result after leaving his former breakaway companions behind some six kilometres from the finish and taking off towards the home straight without looking back.

With the general classification in mind Howson played a strong role at the front of a split peloton to keep himself and compatriots Lucas Hamilton and Rob Power in a positive position ahead of tomorrow’s race against the clock up the challenging Vail Pass.

Decisive moments:

Stage one consisted of eight 14kilometres circuits of a lumpy course around Vail, with the peloton climbing straight out of the neutral zone and onto a dirt road.

A fast start saw numerous attacks, but it was a pair of riders who managed to gain a gap of around one minute in the peloton with chasers scattered in between after 30kilometres of racing.

By the halfway point the leading group had doubled to four riders, maintaining close to a minute on the EF-Education-First led peloton until the final two laps when the gap started to reduce.

The repeated ascent of the unpaved climb ate into the lead of the quartet and played into the hands of the peloton, with the catch finally coming over the closing six kilometres with one rider, Gage Hect trying to prolong what looked to be inevitable.

Looks can be deceiving and despite a frantic chase over open, wide roads towards the finish Hect hung on to take his first professional victory with Power the best placed for Mitchelton-SCOTT after strong work by Howson to maintain position.

Damien Howson:

“It was a pretty technical circuit to start with today and part way through it started to rain which increased the tension and stress within the bunch, making things a little more nervous.”

“EF-Education-First were setting the tempo for most of the circuits and it was full gas up the unpaved climb with every ascent, the surface was ok to be honest, it altered slightly with each passage of the riders and the convoy and definitely added some excitement to the technicality of the stage.

“To a certain extent the chase into the final kilometres was quite strange as there wasn’t any clear organisation. There was a mix of GC team’s and sprinters team’s and our goal was ensuring we finished in a good position for the GC and we achieved that with myself, Lucas and Rob all in the same group on the same time.

“My last race was the Tour de France and it feels really good to pin a number on again and be back racing with the guys. It’s a potentially race defining time trial tomorrow and we will definitely see a whole new shape to the GC after the race up Vail Pass.”

Colorado Classic stage one results:

1. Gage Hect (Aevolo) 02:32:56

2. Travis Mcabe (United-Healthcare) +0:06

3. Joe Lewis (Holowesko-Citadel) ST

19. Rob Power (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST

Photos courtesy of Getty Images.