Colorado Classic: Alex Howes dukes it out against TJ Eisenhart in mad-dash Main Street finish | SummitDaily.com

Colorado Classic: Alex Howes dukes it out against TJ Eisenhart in mad-dash Main Street finish

BRECKENRIDGE — In the final split second of Stage 2, TJ Eisenhart lost the stage and won the leader's jersey. So it goes in pro cycling.

The win some, lose some shocker came on a mad-dash sprint between Eisenhart and challenger Alex Howes in the final 500 meters of the Breckenridge stage at the inaugural Colorado Classic, which covered a total of 64 miles and 7,320 vertical feet in 10 laps.

As the two barreled into the finish line on Main Street and Ski Hill Road, hundreds of fans lining the road yelled and screamed and rang cowbells to lead Eisenhart — a 23-year-old member of the UCI continental team Holowesko/Citadel Racing — on a redline dash as Howes closed in. The 29-year-old Tour de France veteran with Team Cannondale-Drapac had been chasing Eisenhart all afternoon, just like the rest of the field, but patience paid off on the final of 10 laps through the 6.4-mile circuit at 9,600 feet.

That's when Howes, a Denver native who's no stranger to altitude, made his move on Eisenhart, a Utah native who's also a beast in the "death zone" above 9,000 feet. Eisenhart held a 40-second lead at the start of the final lap, only to see it drop to 10 seconds as Howes and third-place finisher, Peter Stetina of Trek-Segafredo, started closing the gap. Eisenhart held strong until the leading trio zoomed through the tight, technical switchbacks of Illinois Gulch and merged onto lower Boreas Pass Road for the final mile, each one zooming along at 40 to 45 miles per hour. Howes inched closer as Stetina fell behind when the group made 90-degree turns onto French Street, then Jefferson Avenue, and then finally Main Street.

And that's when it happened. On that final home stretch, Howes displayed his racing prowess by overtaking Eisenhart by little more than a bike's length for the stage win.

Sometimes — and especially in stage bike racing — crossing the finish line first isn't the most important move of the day. Thanks to finishing in the top two for both sprints and King of the Mountain climbs, Eisenhart took the blue overall leader's jersey from Stage 1 winner John Murphy of Holowesko/Citadel Racing. Eisenhart heads into the sole point-to-point race for Stage 3 in Denver today (Aug. 12) ahead of Howes by one second.

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Poidevin wins women's crown

In the late-morning women's race, Sara Poidevin with Rally led early and hardly gave up, building a 40-second lead between herself and second-place finisher Tayler Wiles of UnitedHealthcare early. By the time Poidevin crossed the finish line, the Canadian was nearly two minutes ahead of her closest competition.

Breckenridge was the final stage of the two-stage women's race, which ended with Poidevin taking the inaugural Colorado Classic crown, followed by Wiles in second and Abigail Mickey of Colavita/Bianchi in third. Mickey also took the "best Colorado rider" jersey for the final women's stage, while Poidevin had a monopoly on every other jersey and stage award, including Queen of the Mountain winner, sprint winner and the "best young rider" jersey.

The women's race is finished, but the women aren't finished racing. While the men race Stage 3 and 4 today and Sunday, the women competed in a female-only criterium Friday night — just hours after the Breckenridge stage — and then finish the race weekend with another crit through downtown Denver tonight.

Men’s leaderboard | Stage 2

Stage winners

1. Alex Howes (CDT) — 2:51:17

2. TJ Eisenhart (HCR) — 2:51:17

3. Peter Stetina (TFS) — :04 back

4. Manuel Senni (BMC) — :21 back

5. Serghei Tvetcov (JBC) — :40 back

Overall leaders

1. TJ Eisenhart (HCR) — 6:24:36

2. Alex Howes (CDT) — :01 back

3. Peter Stetina (TFS) — :11 back

4. Manuel Senni (BMC) — :32 back

5. Serghei Tvetcov (JBC) — :51 back

King of the Mountain (1 and 2)

1. TJ Eisenhart (HCR)

2. Daniel Eaton (UHC)

1. TJ Eisenhart (HCR)

2. Manuel Senni (BMC)

Sprint leaders (1 and 2)

1. Daniel Eaton (UHC)

2. TJ Eisenhart (HCR)

1. TJ Eisenhart (HCR)

2. Travis McCabe (UHC)

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Women’s leaderboard | Stage 2

Stage winners

1. Sara Poidevin (Rally) — 1:35:40

2. Tayler Wiles (UnitedHealthcare) — 2:00 back

3. Abigail Mickey (Colavita/Bianchi) — 2:36 back

4. Ruth Winder (UnitedHealthcare) — 3:09 back

5. Katie Antonneau (Cyclance) — 3:09 back

Overall leaders

1. Sara Poidevin (Rally) — 3:08:27

2. Tayler Wiles (UnitedHealthcare) — 2:06 back

3. Abigail Mickey (Colavita/Bianchi) — 2:40 back

4. Ruth Winder (UnitedHealthcare) — 3:18 back

5. Leah Thomas (Sho-Air Twenty 20) — 3:20 back

Queen of the Mountain (1 and 2)

1. Sara Poidevin (Rally)

2. Tayler Wiles (UnitedHealthcare)

1. Sara Poidevin (Rally)

2. Taylor Wiles (UnitedHealthcare)

Sprint leaders (1 and 2)

1. Lauren Hall (UnitedHealthcare)

2. Katie Compton (Iscorp p/b Progress)

1. Abigail Mickey (Colavita/Bianchi)

2. Sara Poidevin (Rally)