Following a 1-2 finish in the women’s race, team UnitedHealthcare continued to clean up in Stage 2 of the 2018 Colorado Classic men’s race on Friday as Gavin Mannion flew up Vail Pass in a lightning fast 25 minutes, 41.28 seconds to the first big victory of his cycling career.
Mannion’s teammate, Serghei Tvetcov, followed in second, 11 seconds back. Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Drapac p/b Cannondale) rounded out the Stage 2 podium, 20 seconds off of the pace.
A Fort Collins, Colo., resident and Massachusetts native, Mannion was runner-up in this year’s Tour of the Gila and said he’s been waiting a long time for this result.
“For me personally, this is huge,” Mannion said. “I’ve never won a race at this level before. To continue that trend and finish the season strong is awesome for me. It goes to show I’m continuing to develop. I go into every time trial thinking I can win and giving myself a fair shot. Normally it doesn’t pan out. Today it did.”
Stage 2 harkened back to the legendary Coors Classic cycling race of the 1970s with an individual time trial from Vail Village up Vail Pass. Cranking off of a start ramp in Vail Village’s Mountain Plaza, cyclists shot through Vail Village in reverse direction of Stage 1’s circuit. They blazed downhill through a tunnel, through the center of town and out to the Frontage Road along relatively flat terrain to East Vail before hauling up the steep climb of Vail Pass, in total gaining 1,574 feet in 10.1 miles and finishing at a soaring elevation of nearly 10,000 feet.
With the victory, Mannion takes the blue Gates General Classification leader’s jersey from 20-year-old Colorado native Gage Hecht (Aevolo), who notched the race of his life in Thursday’s Stage 1 circuit and followed up with another outstanding performance in Stage 2, hanging on to the Frontier Airlines Sprint jersey and the Colorado Tourism Office King of the Mountain jersey (worn by Pascal Eenkhoorn – Team Lotto NL-Jumbo).
“I wanted to make sure I didn’t do what I did before on this course, wasting half of my tank on the flats,” Hecht said. “I wanted to save my bullets for going up the climb. I gave it all I had.”
Tvetcov, who was the runner-up in the 2017 Colorado Classic, earned the FirstBank Most Aggressive Rider in Stage 2 as 22-year-old Colombian phenom Daniel Martinez Podeva (EF Education-Drapac p/b Cannondale) earned the IKON Pass Best Young Rider jersey.
Fifteen of the world’s top men’s teams – a total of 81 racers from more than 20 countries – are competing in this year’s Colorado Classic, which moves to Denver Saturday for Stage 3 presented by UnitedHealthcare and Stage 4 presented by Gates Industrial Corporation on Sunday.
The Colorado Classic men’s race is sanctioned by Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and is designated as a 2.HC race, which is the highest category outside of World Tour races. Both the men’s and women’s races are part of USA Cycling’s Pro Road Tour, which showcases the premier domestic road events in the United States.