Time trial spectators fans brave the rain in Vail Village
Special to the Daily
VAIL — Saturday’s Stage 6 time trial during the USA Pro Challenge brought cycling fans out to Vail Village with their rain gear this year. Moderate amounts of rain came and went throughout the day, but it didn’t seem to detour fans from making the trip into town, though many did take cover during several sporadic showers.
The village structure was full by 10:30 a.m., and Lionshead capped its capacity at 12:05 p.m. Cars then overflowed onto the frontage roads adjacent to the village. At 2:15 p.m., 444 cars were parked on the roads.
“The rain is kinda a bummer, but this is always a great event,” said Christine Ashburn as she waited for a warm beverage with her family in the refuge of Yeti’s Grind coffee shop at the Solaris in Vail, which had a line out the door for most of the morning and early afternoon.
Ashburn, a resident of Edwards, said her family is visiting for the weekend, so they made their way into Vail to join in on the festivities.
“I think it’s cool that you can see every individual rider go by,” she said of the Time Trail, “instead of when they all go by and then it’s over.”
Sandy Struss, from Omaha, Neb., and a Vail resident during the summer, said it’s the first time she has been to any kind of cycling event, and that it’s a great place for people watching. She was wearing a body-length poncho in the rain, and said she saw the sun for about 10 seconds, and then it went away.
“This is mountain weather,” she said. “You have to come prepared.”
Vail native Harrison Brown said he always likes seeing the village full of energy.
“This is madness, but it’s really awesome,” he said while standing among the crowds near Lululemon free lemonade stand. “It’s great to see tons of people in the village. I think the cycling culture is already very predominant here, so why wouldn’t this be one of the biggest events of the summer?”
CYCLISTS STILL SHINE
Even with a wet stage, the elite athletes stole the show. Well before Aspen’s Tejay van Garderen won Saturday’s time trial with a time of 24 minutes, 26.5 seconds (beating his own course record of 25 minutes, 2 seconds), his name was all over town.
Young fans, Henry Little, 11, and Anderson Little, 10, said they came up from Boulder with their parents to see the race and cheer on Colorado’s own van Garderen.
“Tejay van Garderen is a local, and he’s one of our favorites,” Henry said. “We just wanted to come and watch, and it’s really cool with all racers and the free stuff.”
Cheering fans pounded the course barriers as each cyclists passed, creating an energetic atmosphere despite the rain, and the gear expo on top of the village parking structure offered product peeks for both seasoned cyclists and new riders.
Highlands Ranch neighbors Marc Lumpkin and Al Bonneau had planned to ride up Vail Pass to watch the race finish, but they decided to stay a little closer to cover.
“We haven’t been to this event down here, but the rain kinda pushed us here today,” Lumpkin said.
For Bonneau, who has gone to different stages across the state since the start of the Pro Challenge, said the scene is fun, but the riders are what the show is all about.
“It’s great to see the world-class guys come up here,” he said, “and to see the guys climb that pass in 25 minutes. It takes me a lot longer than that, so it’s just a lot of fun to watch them.”
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