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Durango’s Chris Blevins top 10 to open Colorado Classic road cycling race

Fellow Durangoan Kuss 16th on Stage 1

Christopher Blevins again proved he is every bit as talented on a road bike as he is on a mountain bike.

Blevins, a 19-year-old from Durango, finished ninth on the opening stage of the Colorado Classic, part of the four-day Velorama Colorado festival. The event is in its first year, helping replace the USA Pro Challenge.

Durango’s Sepp Kuss, who finished ninth at the Tour of Utah last week, finished 16th on the opening stage of the Colorado Classic on Thursday.

The Colorado Classic pro men’s race is four stages and will cover 313 miles with more than 20,000 feet of elevation gain. It is a Union Cycliste Internationale sanctioned race in the 2.HC category for multi-stage races outside of World Tour events.

Stage 1 covered 93.5 miles with six laps on a 15.58-mile circuit. The course ran between downtown Colorado Springs and Garden of the Gods.

Blevins is competing with the Axeon Hagens Berman World Tour team. He finished the stage in 3 hours, 33 minutes, 31 seconds.

“At first it’s always an adjustment,” Blevins said of switching from the mountain bike back to a road bike. “It doesn’t take long until you get in a flow of riding in the peloton.”

Kuss, a member of the Rally Cycling Team, finished in 3:33:32.

“Today was a pretty standard sprint stage,” Kuss said, “just saving energy for tomorrow’s tough stage in Breckenridge.”

The stage was won by John Murphy of the Holowesko/Citadel Racing p/b Hincapie team. Murphy crossed the line in 3:33:30 ahead of Travis McCabe of the UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team.

Blevins’ teammate Logan Owen, who grew up racing BMX with Blevins and taught Blevins how to jump on a BMX bike, was third in the sprint finish in the same time as Murphy and McCabe. Marco Canola of the Nippo-Vini Fantini team was fourth, and Kiel Reijnen of Trek-Segafredo was fifth.

Blevins finished just behind Colin Joyce, a teammate of Kuss who attended the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in May. Blevins was one place ahead of Brent Bookwalter of the BMC Racing Team.

“He can do it all,” Kuss said of Blevins. “He did a solid lead out for his teammate who finished third in the sprint.”

Rally Cycling’s Robert Britton, who won last week’s Tour of Utah, finished the first stage 46th in 3:33:36. Boulder’s Taylor Phinney, who rides for the Cannondale-Drapac team, was 62nd in 3:34:12.

Blevins, a 2016 graduate of Durango High School, is the 23-and-under USA Cycling national champion in cross country mountain biking. He also claimed the US Cup of mountain biking by winning the eight-race series that concluded with the Boston Rebellion on July 30.

Along with the four-stage men’s race, there is a two-stage women’s event at the Colorado Classic. It is only 70 miles and boasts 5,800 feet of climbing.

Jenn Walente of the Sho-Air TWENTY20 team won the first stage in 1:33:00. She was ahead of Skylar Schneider of the ISCorp-Progress Cycling Team and Emma White of Rally Cycling.

Blevins’ Axeon Hagens Berman team is one of 16 top teams attending the event.

The competition will continue Friday with a 64-mile stage around Breckenridge. The stage will feature 10 laps with more than 7,000 feet of climbing across the 64 miles.

“It’s going to be a tough stage,” Blevins said. “You can’t hide at all on that one. It’s going to be an absolute slugfest.”

The third stage Saturday is an 81-mile out-and-back ride from Denver out west on the Peak to Peak Highway with a return ride through the Golden Gate Canyon State Park.

Sunday’s final stage is a circuit race through the streets of Denver. The 7.5-mile loop will be ridden 10 times.

Ninety-five riders started the race. Ninety-four remain after Stage 1.

The race will be televised on NBC Sports Network.

“It’s not a really clear stage race with a mountain-top finish or clear sprint days,” Blevins said.

“There are going to be chances and opportunities throughout the race for a lot of different types of guys.”

jlivingston@durangoherald.com

Nov 29, 2021
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Nov 29, 2021
Sepp Kuss rides to 6th at Colorado Classic
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