Chloé Dygert Owen gambled and won during Thursday’s opening stage of the Colorado Classic.
The American attacked solo in the waning 15 kilometers of the 85.6-kilometer stage and then held off a 11-woman chase group to win the opening stage by 44 seconds in downtown Steamboat Springs.
“I knew it was going to be hard with the altitude, and it wasn’t as hard as I thought,” Dygert Owen (Sho-Air Twenty20) said after the stage. “We came into the final climb and I saw everyone start to hurt, and I knew that was my moment.”
As the peloton climbed the course’s second Queen of the Mountains climb—the gravel ascent up Big Valley Ranch road—Dygert Owen sprung from the group near the top, and then powered away on the dirt descent. The move was risky, as the final 10 kilometers back into Steamboat Springs included sections of flat and rolling road, where a chase group often has an advantage on a solo rider.
Behind, a group containing 11 riders formed to try and bring Dygert Owen back. In the move were Omer Shapira and Ella Harris (both Canyon-SRAM), Brodie Chapman and Lauren Stephens (both Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank), Marcela Prieto and Anet Barrera (both Swapit Agolico), Justine Barrow (Lux-Flexential), Whitney Allison (Hagens Berman-Supermint), Flavia Oliveira (Fearless Femme), Krista Doebel-Hickok (Rally-UHC), and defending champion Katie Hall (U.S. national team).
The group worked together for much of the 10-kilometer chase, however riders then took turns attacking each other in the final-run in to Steamboat Springs. As the group played tactics, Dygert Owen muscled her way to the finish line. Dygert Owen crossed the finish with a 48-second advantage on the group.
“We had talked about [the climb] before the race to attack over the climb, and I was able to hold it,” Dygert Owen said.
Dygert Owen now takes a lead in the overall heading into Friday’s climbing stage in Avon. The course includes a 2,000-foot climb to the Beaver Creek ski resort in the final kilometers of the stage.
With her solo move Dygert Owen took hold of four jerseys: General Classification, Queen of the Mountains, Best Young Rider, and the Sprint jersey.
“I’ve come back from several injuries this year,” Dygert Owen said after the stage. “This was the first race I felt back to my normal self. I’ve had some really good training leading up to this race. I’ve been at altitude for a couple days. I’m using this as a really big training block. I’m happy with how today turned out and looking forward to the rest of the week.”
Colorado Classic, Stage 1
- Chloe Dygert Owen, Sho-Air Twenty20, 2:19:09
- Whitney Allison, Hagens Berman-Supermint, at 0:48
- Brodie Chapman, Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank, at 0:50
- Marcela Prieto, Swapit Agolico, at 54
- Laren Stephens, Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank, at same time
- Krista Doebel-Hickok, Rally-UHC. at s.t.
- Flavia Oliveira, Fearless Femme, at s.t.
- Justine Barrow, Lux-Flexential, at s.t.
- Katie Hall, Team USA, at 0:47
- Anet Barrera, Swapit Agolico, at s.t.