The kickoff to the 2019 Colorado Classic presented by VF Corporation transpired in runaway fashion as 22-year-old Chloe Dygert of Sho Air TWENTY20 broke away in the final climb to ride solo for the last 15 miles of the race and claim victory in Steamboat Springs Stage 1 presented by Smartwool.
Dygert, who is fresh off of a double gold medal performance at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, where she won both the Team Pursuit and Time Trial, won Thursday’s 54-mile Steamboat stage in 2 hours, 19 minutes and 9 seconds, earning not only the General Classification yellow jersey but also Best Young Rider, Sprint Leader and Queen of the Mountain.
“I had some good legs today,” Dygert said after the race. “I saw everyone suffering. I looked back and saw there was a little bit of a gap. I knew that was my only chance. I just attacked and was able to hold it and keep it.”
Dygert, who has suffered multiple injuries in the last several months, put a sizable gap between herself and the rest of the field. Fort Collins resident Whitney Allison (Hagens Berman | Supermint) made Colorado proud by finishing runner-up on the day, firing across the finish line 44 seconds behind Dygert as Australian Brodie Chapman (TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank) followed on her wheel to take third.
“When we heard Chloe Dygert took the lead, my reaction was, ‘Oh man. It’s going to be hard,’” Chapman said. “She’s a hard one to reel in.”
A total of 16 teams representing 20 countries shot off the start line for the long loop course in beautiful, sunny weather in Steamboat on Thursday. Emily Newsom (TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank) was the first rider to make a move, breaking away to win the first QOM but then falling victim to a flat tire. Nonetheless, the effort earned her the Most Badass Rider jersey.
A pack of riders near the back of the field went down in the first half of the race but all quickly returned to their saddles. During a technical descent through gravel, Dygert said she came close to crashing on a sharp turn but held it together to launch her attack.
Veteran Lindsay Goldman, who co-owns, manages and rides for the Hagens Berman | Supermint team, all while working a full-time job and taking care of her 18-month-old baby, earned the Most Inspirational Rider jersey on Thursday.
“It’s an honor to wear this jersey for what I’m hoping is a meaningful contribution to this sport,” Goldman said, adding that she also feels honored to compete for the landmark 2019 Colorado Classic, the only UCI 2.1-ranked standalone women’s four-stage race in the Western Hemisphere with an unprecedented $75,000 prize purse. “It makes me feel I want to show up and race as hard as I can, have my athletes show up and race as hard as they can. I want them to promote the #WeRide hashtag and show our gratitude for the opportunity we’ve been given.”
Racing continues on Friday with Stage 2 presented by FirstBank in Avon. The course features seven laps around town followed by a steep 15-mile lap up Daybreak Ridge Road through Beaver Creek. Stage 2 will total 50.3 miles and 3,428 feet of climbing.
Stage 2 kicks off at 1 p.m. with an event expo at Nottingham Park and best viewing at Avon Road at Benchmark and Highway 6 as well as on Daybreak Ridge Road in Beaver Creek.