Levi Leipheimer won the time trial in Stage 3 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge today (25:47.08). The win secured him the yellow jersey as well, taking it away from TeJay Van Garderen. But overall, Colorado shares the yellow jersey with Leipheimer. Coloradans were out in full force, cheering, ringing cowbells, and standing on the rails from the start to the finish, until the final seconds of the race.
Throughout the day, television commentators gushed about how the terrain, the fans and the support service industries like hotels and restaurants are perfectly suited for a championship bike race. Even Governor Hickenlooper was overheard saying how pleased and surprised he was about the turnout.
Hotels reported no room at the inn and restaurant reservationists laughed when I asked about getting table. This is all very good news for Colorado. Though there is no official announcement from USA Pro Cycling planners, it would be a worse than a bad case of road rash if the race didn’t return to the state. Lance Thompson, the general manager of the Sebastian Hotel, said he was more than pleased with the interest in Vail and Steamboat hotels, bars and restaurants from race fans. By days end, Frost, the hotel’s bar was brimming with happy race fans, the media and Vail locals.
There are a few kinks to work out. There were no official time stations along the course, so it was difficult to know just who was ahead, though this allowed for the suspense to mount up until the last seconds of the race. Hello, Colorado-based IBM, where are you? The other Colorado faux pas, the beer vendor was California based Sierra Nevada. While the beer is quite good, given the state’s status as the Napa of the American beer and spirits world, Colorado beer was noticeably absent. Hello, Fat Tire…we hope you watched the race.