out side of the TdF and maaaybe the WCs and the monuments, its pretty easy to follow the money trail and figure out whos gonna be motivated to perform in a given regional event.
Its got less to do with the nationalities of the riders and more to do with the markets of thier sponsors.
Sky, Argos, Saxotinkoff send out squads to the USAPC, but they dont heavily invest in making sure the A team is primed for it and fighting for it.
famously, froome showed up a couple of days before the race started and the altitude was very hard on him (this isnt an excuse, come here from sea level sometime and try racing your bike at 10K two days after you get here)
Saxo probably only bothered cuz they have two VERY strong americans who on paper looked like contenders for stages and potentially even GC (Rory Sutherland and Timmy Duggan), but otherwise, no real real reason, from an investment perspective, to put resources here.
Argos was barely present all week. but even theyre looking at developing a US rider base next year with Chad Haga and a couple of other promising americans.
On the flip side, look at the teams that really animated Colorado: BMC, Garmin, and Cannondale. All american based teams with big american market presence. Granted, BMC and Garmin also had american riders to defend and GC hopes, but its worth noting that Sagan was out here training at altitude a few weeks ahead of the race. Suggesting he came into it with pretty serious aspirations, and obviously delivered on them. I'm sure thats got a lot to do with nibali being gone and Cannondale being in a position where thier biggest star is a classics star rouller, and not a GC hopeful. So they're putting a ton of pressure on him in the american market (and in the global market) to get clean, photogenic wins, and colorado provided an opportunity for him to do so, and he ran with it to become the winningest racer os 2013 to date.
So americans on american teams come to CO to win, american stagiers and neopros get team support as payback/auditions for the big time, euros on american teams get big money to come and promote american events, and euros on euro teams dont really take CO very seriously, other than as a tune up or a paid vacation.
If you go into ToC and CO with that in mind, its not really that surprising when froome sorta half asses his way though it, though it does seem a little mercenary to not at least put on a show, but i actually think he really underestimated the altitude more than anything else.
But, the actuality of the USA Pro Challenge is more akin to "The Third Largest Co-Ed Team Ping Pong Event in Algeria."
Ask 100 random Americans who Chris Froome is, and I would be shocked if more than 1 out of 100 had any clue. But I bet 10 out of 100 Italians would respond "a 70kg version of E.T."
I live in NC at 800 ft My wife and I have been to Colorado Arizona and Utah 7 times in the last 10 years and going to high elevations for days at a time. I have spent a lot of time at 12,000 ft and had no problems until two years ago I got altitude sickness after spending the day at Rocky Mountain National park. I went back the next year and was OK. It is easy to ignore unless you are going hard exercise. I had felt it but not bad until I did a very long hike and I thought I was going to pass out. I recouped fast but was not as strong for several days. This could happen to the riders and they might just pass it off as being tired. One year I rented a bike and road around Leadville Co 12,000+ft and felt OK. What I am saying being in great shape does not stop you from having a bad few days. I am in very good shape but not like a pro bike racer and I am now 73. High altitude can do strange things to the body and the Rocky Mountains prove it every year
I'd say the climbs are about a wash. Climbs tend to be steeper in France than in Colorado, but the climbs in Colorado go to higher altitude than France and can be longer.
As to the races themselves, there is simply no comparison. The TDF is dramatically harder. First, it's 3 weeks instead of one. There is an order of magnitude difference between racing one week and racing 3 weeks. Second, the competition is tougher in the TDF than any race in the world. THe best teams in the world are there, i.e. all the Pro Tour teams, not a smattering of pro tour teams, and then PRo Continental and Continental teams. Third, everyone there is motivated to win. It's the biggest race in the world, and riders don't use it for a training race, virtually everyone is targeting it as a major goal and is trying to win GC, win a stage, have a showing to get a contract for next year, or is working for teamates to win.
The TDF is the hardest race in the world,even harder than the Giro, or the Veulta, which typically will have tougher topography, because the racers make it the hardest race.
Using a Golf analogy, not every week's Tour stop is the US Open, or the Masters. The US Pro Challenge is roughly the John Deer Classic.
it just doesnt do us any favors in developing the sport in the US if we are constantly comparing it to the TdF, really. and fixated on all the ways its not as good as the longet running, most watched, most famous cycling competitiion in the world.
thats just not a fair or reasonable comparison. of course its not the A teams in top form, of course the coverage isnt necessarily as extensive and sharp, but neither is any other race.
its a bummer that thats the expectation that sets the tone for any conversation about racing in the US.
if we cant get behind it and give it a little slack and help it grow, we're doomed.
I'd prefer to watch a USAPCC stage over a TdF stage just about any day of the week. I think the fact that it's "less important" means the riders are more willing to have fun and take risks. I also like that some of the development teams get in the action, and teams like Novo Nordisk (the Type 1 diabetic team) that wouldn't get any airtime otherwise.
Really want to draw blank stares? Mention Andy Hampsten to a non-cycling American. Or even the Giro. Maybe 10% would think you're talking about bike helmets. :D
It would be great if it could take one step up to be an Elite stage race, along the lines of the Tour down Under, Tour of Romandie, Paris Nice, etc.
Those races are classed a level ahead of the Tour of California, and the Pro Challenge, and are more fair comparisons, and the level the PRo Challenge can reasonably aspire to.
Or keeping form for the Worlds
as long as the scenery is beautiful, any pro race will earn my eyeballs.
I think that the organizers/promoters/sponsors of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge want this race to be the premier American race so they need to get big names to participate, even if some of those big names e.g., Froome, have no intention of contesting the race.
I think the Euro's don't care because the event name sucks. :lol:
USA Pro Cycling Challenge? Really?! :notamused:
Just gonna jump in here and say thanks to badhat, yourgroupride and the ft collins crew for bringing that stage to the northern front range and making it a success.
it's sad that sky phoned it in, but not surprising. garmin & bmc were pretty fun to watch, though.
To be fair, I think there were a fair number of big names in Colorado, sure they didn't all perform to top standards, but they did show up.
I'm personally wondering where all the big names are at the Vuelta, sure there are some, but for it being a grand tour with lots of climbing, it seems pretty sparse.
Well, probably they are paid to show up. None of the Europeans but maybe Sagan likes to travel to the US to start with, so sometimes (if not all the time) the big names are paid to come, but that doesn't mean they have to perform.
I still think it's trying to find the right exit and hitting that bumper to bumper instead.