EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale put three riders on the podium on Sunday when the Colorado Classic came to a close in Denver’s RiNo District. Briton Hugh Carthy finished the four-day race in third overall and won the King of the Mountains classification. Colombian Dani Martinez, sixth overall, topped the Best Young Rider classification. American Taylor Phinney, a Boulder native, earned most aggressive on the day.
“It’s an honor to be able to jump on the podium and pull on a jersey,” said Phinney. “These last four days, we’ve just been racing hard, racing our bikes and having fun, which always feels good.”
“Our results round off a good couple of weeks here in Utah and Colorado,” said Carthy. “We tried our best, and you can’t ask for anything more than that. We had a good time as a team on and off the bike.”
“We wanted to win, and we thought maybe we could make a difference in the mountains,” said Martinez. “We tried. The team made the race really aggressive.”
Gavin Mannion (UnitedHealthCare) won the Colorado Classic general classification off the back of his stage two victory. The Vail Pass time trial was pegged as the most decisive stage of the race, and it lived up to expectations. The top three after the time trial remained the top three through the second half of the race.
Although making up the time loss in Denver would have been a tall order, #PinkArgyle threw everything it had at the challenge with Carthy, Martinez and Joe Dombrowski going on the attack up Lookout Mountain on stage three. The trio were part of a seven-rider break that was caught in the final kilometers as the sprinters came to the fore.
“In the end, it came back and all things stayed the same, but sometimes you’ve got to throw a Hail Mary,” said Dombrowski.
Phinney picked up on Sunday where the overall contenders left off on Saturday. He attacked on the opening lap of the eight-lap Denver circuit. His movement inspired a swift reaction and a four-man move quickly took shape.
“The goal today was to get in the breakaway and see what was possible from there,” said Phinney. “Unfortunately, one of the guys that I was with, Piccolo, was a little too close for comfort on the general classification, so our director Ken Vanmarcke told me not to do too much work. I pulled the first couple of laps, but I couldn’t pull the last bit.”
When Phinney’s escape was caught, he countered the catch.
“I went on a couple attacks after that but UHC and Rally had it locked down tight,” Phinney said.
The stage ended in a sprint won by UHC’s Travis McCabe.
“I’m happy for UHC,” said Carthy. “Their future is in doubt, and I think we can all relate to that. We were in their shoes this time last year. I’m happy for them that they could perform under that pressure.”
Team owner and title sponsor EF Education First had 1500 employees on-site for stages three and four. For the majority of those employees, the Colorado Classic was their first bike race.
“Racing by Red Rocks on Saturday was absolutely incredible,” said performance manager Tim Kennaugh, who acted as second sport director at Tour of Utah and the Colorado Classic. “There weren’t many fans along that part of the course and then suddenly there was this mass of pink shirts and loud cheers. Riders from the other teams are talking about it. They’re noticing, too. It definitely gives us extra motivation.”