The question is not whether Chris Froome will win the 2013 USA Pro Cycling Challenge. It’s, by how great a margin? Team Sky’s South African wunderkind has triumphed in some of the world’s hardest stage races (Criterium Dauphine, Tour de France, etc.), so there’s little doubt that he should be able to make a serious bid for victory in Colorado, especially with Richie Porte to help him out. Expect to see Froome looking at stems while off the front of the race, climbing his way to victory in American mountains.
The only problem for Froome will be with the nature of American stage racing. In order to assure exciting sprint finishes, and to keep riders safe from time cuts, American race promoters tend to structure courses that come back together for a bunch kick. Having the time trial on stage four in Vail virtually assures the Froome, whose time trialing is only equaled or excelled by riders of world champion caliber, should be able to establish and defend a lead over the course of a single week.
Nevertheless, USAPRO has other riders in it! Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) has ridden his way onto numerous leaderboards this year. Despite not being his team’s leader, the young rider has promise as a stage racer. Tejay can Garderen (BMC) won the Tour of California, and, despite a lackluster TDF performance in 2013, trailed Froome by mere minutes in the 2012 Tour.
Of course, all eyes will be on Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Jens Voigt (Radioshack). Arguably the international riders with the greatest popularity in America, cycling fans will want to see Voigt in the late-race solo breakaway and Sagan crushing the field sprints.
The action starts Monday at 1:05 PM with the Aspen Circuit Race. KOM points are up for grabs every lap, and it’s likely that a domestic pro will earn the right to wear that jersey after a day in the break du jour.