Cannondale-Drapac wins Colorado Classic team title; Howes finishes third overall

    Cannondale-Drapac won the Colorado Classic team classification in Denver on Sunday. Alex Howes was best-placed #GreenArgyle following four days of animated racing. The Colorado native, who won stage two, rounded out the overall podium behind Manuel Senni (BMC) and Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis).

    Tour de France runner-up Rigoberto Uran slotted into 14th overall while Hugh Carthy was one spot behind his teammate in 15th place. Cannondale-Drapac beat out UAE Team Emirates to the best team title by 1:21.

    Cannondale-Drapac’s success was underscored by Howes’ stage victory in Breckenridge on Friday. Before Howes punched a fist in the air in celebration just beyond the finish line, Will Clarke represented the Boulder-based squad in an early escape. Taylor Phinney’s pace-making proved crucial in closing down the gap to the lone leader, and Uran and Carthy played the role of loyal lieutenant up and over Moonstone Road as the race-winning selection was made.

    The stage result came with general classification gains. At the mid-point of the race — two stages done, two stages still to race — Howes sat second overall, only one-second off the overall lead.

    “Personally, I had set the goal that we would win a stage and the general classification,” said sport director Ken Vanmarcke. “The stage win was the first box we ticked, and I was very satisfied with that.”

    Stage three surprised. The anticipated reduced bunch sprint did not materialize. Instead Senni and Tvetcov managed to hold off a 26-rider chase group. Tvetcov took stage honors. Senni moved into the overall lead. Howes dropped down to third.

    There were no changes to the general classification following Sunday’s circuit race. Stage four ended in a mass sprint won by Israel Cycling Academy’s Mihkel Raim in Denver’s RiNo Art District neighborhood. Howes, who lined up for Colorado Classic hoping to ride away with the overall title, finished third on the general classification.

    “Of course it hurts a bit,” said Vanmarkce. “When you start a stage in second place and only one second behind in GC and end the race in third place and 31 seconds behind, it’s normal not to have the very best feelings. There are some things we could have done differently, and there are certain things that went wrong beyond our control. You have to accept the outcome and look forward to the next race.

    “Being the best in team general classification represents the way we were racing,” Vanmarcke added. “Everyone was fully committed to the team plan and the team objectives, to supporting each other and to pushing through every day until the finish.”