Gretsch gets surprise Prologue win; Vandevelde, Leipheimer, Evans and Schlecks not far behind

Patrick Gretsch, Prologue winner

STAGE 1 VIEWING UPDATE: Watch live streams of every stage on Shack Tracker. The quality is excellent, standings are updated dynamically on the page as you watch. Watch here at noon p.m. EDT on Tuesday, Aug. 23.

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge got off to a blazing start on Monday. Blazing as in blazing fast and blazing hot. The riders were flying from the moment they left the start gate in the spectacular Garden of the Gods.

Second-year pro Patrick Gretsch of HTC-Highroad snatched the lead early and, amazingly, his time of 8:27 held up for the victory on the 5.1 kilometer course. Christian Vandevelde of Team Garmin Cervelo earned second place, 2 seconds back, with Brent Bookwalter of BMC Racing in third, just 3 seconds off the pace.

Some big names, like Ivan Basso, had extremely slow times in the 90+ degree heat. But other stars did quite well, including:

  • Levi Leipheimer, just off winning the Tour of Utah, finished in 7th (8 seconds back);
  • Cadel Evans might still be celebrating his victory in the Tour de France, but he still ran a strong race, finishing in ninth place, 9 seconds back.
  • Brothers Andy and Frank Schleck both finished a few seconds outside the 9:00 mark, leaving them in good position as the race shifts to the mountains.
  • Home-state favorite Tom Danielson finished 18 seconds off the pace, also a good result.

And now it’s off to Salida for Stage 1, a 99.4-mile race with plenty of climbing, including 11,318-foot Monarch Pass, before an uphill finish at Mt. Crested Butte.

Interested in more details about the race? Check out these links:

  • The course: From Prologue to high country, here’s where the race will be contested in Crested Butte, Aspen, Vail, Steamboat Sprigs and more. Get maps, elevation gain information and video.
  • Teams: Who’s racing? The entire list of competitors.
  • History: This isn’t the first pro cycling race in Colorado. Learn about the Red Zinger Classic and the Coors Classic.
  • The basics: Visit the race’s official web site for all the details.
  • The jerseys: See what the leader, top climber and sprinters will be wearing/
  • Coverage: Keep up with the race on the Denver Post website.
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