Chloe Dygert (Sho-Air Twenty20) surprised even herself on Sunday when, for the fourth straight day, she pedaled across the finish line alone in first place in the Colorado Classic.
In oven-like temperatures that climbed to 96 degrees, the 22-year-old bided her time in Stage 4 presented by Gates Corporation, on a fast, 52.8-mile course comprised of eight laps around downtown Denver.
How the race unfolded
Although there were nonstop attacks throughout the race, no rider was able to put much of a gap between herself and the peloton until Janelle Cole’s (LUX/Flexential) last-ditch effort.
With one lap to go, Cole charged ahead in a valiant attempt to pry at least one stage from Dygert, but the race leader had none of it, hammering past Cole in the last few kilometers.
Cole ended up 11 seconds back as Dygert made a clean, decisive sweep of all four stages of the race, also claiming four straight days as the FirstBank Sprint Leader, Colorado Tourism Office Queen of the Mountain and the VF Corporation Best Young Rider.
Dygert came away winning the overall four-stage race in a total time of 8 hours, 55 minutes and 6 seconds, by 2 minutes and 37 seconds ahead of runner-up Brodie Chapman (TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank) and 2:57.00 over Omer Shapira, whose Canyon-SRAM team walked away on top for team points.
“I was not expecting to do this,” Dygert said after the race Sunday. “I just wanted this race to be a really good block of training for the World Championships. Hopefully this helps my case with being able to go. I work really hard and it’s taken over a year to get my strength back.”
Dygert’s domination of the Colorado Classic is impressive in the wake of the injuries she’s suffered in the last two years, including a torn knee ligament, concussion, torn hip labrum and bulging disc in her back.
“Chloe, in the last 18 months, has been through a bunch,” said her father, David Dygert. “She’s really starting to come on now. This race really showed that.”
The seven-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist proved unstoppable during the four days of racing this week in Colorado.
“Chloe is a phenom. She’s incredible. We all know that. I have so much respect for her,” Cole said, adding that she had nothing to lose by her Stage 4 late attack on Sunday. “Before the race today, I said the only way to lose a bike race before you even start is by racing for second. “I thought, ‘I’m 10 minutes out in GC, no one is going to care about me. Today is the day to throw it all in. This is my last race of the season. I don’t have a team for next year. This is the time to make it happen.’”
Cole’s efforts, which took her about 50 seconds ahead of the peloton at one point, were thwarted by Dygert and Dygert alone.
“I was assuming that Chloe would come after me, and if she did, no one would come after her. I got lucky it happened that way,” Cole said.
Chapman, too, said there was nothing more she could have done to give Dygert a run for her money these last few days.
“She was just super strong. I did my best,” Chapman said.
Brazilian racer and Colorado resident Flavia Oliveira (Fearless Femme) made several attacks on Sunday, earning the VF Corporation Most Badass Rider jersey while the event’s oldest rider, 52-year-old Edwige Pitel (Cogeas Mettler Look), who crashed on the final lap but bounced right back into the saddle, earned the Audi Most Inspirational Rider jersey.
All top riders commented on the great energy and crowd turnout throughout the four days of racing.
“The crowds are really great. It’s probably one of the biggest races I’ve been to,” Dygert said. “The support has been phenomenal.”
Colorado Classic organizer RPM Events Group said the 2019 race, which is the only 2.1 UCI-ranked women’s standalone pro road race in the Western Hemisphere, was a resounding success and a springboard for something even greater.
“We’re doing something meaningful,” said RPM Chief Operating Officer Lucy Diaz. “This is not just another bike race. It’s about the content and the future of the sport. To speak to the #WeRide movement, that made us feel really unified with what we were doing out here. We can create a platform that creates a sense of women’s empowerment. The impact to girls is powerful. All the girls out here watching … hopefully it gets them on a bike, on a soccer field, on a track. Hopefully it gets them out there.”
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