Breckenridge, Colorado — Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team’s Jhonatan Narvaez endured ten brutal laps and 7,000 feet of grueling climbing to secure the HELIX Best Young Rider jersey Friday at the Colorado Classic. The jersey moved shoulders from teammate Logan Owen.
With ten laps over Moonstone Climb, teams knew Stage 2 would be vicious, and it delivered on that billing. Embracing the challenge, Axeon went into the 64-mile race with the plan to have a rider cover every dangerous move.
Team Race Director Jeff Louder expanded and said the Breckenridge stage was the kind no rider enjoys and the aim is to simply put it behind you. “I think it was brutal for the entire peloton,” said Louder. “It looked more like survival than racing. The good news is that we all survived and live to fight another day.”
When T.J. Eisenhart (Holowesko-Citadel p/b Hincapie Sportswear) and Daniel Eaton (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) escaped off the front, Narvaez fought to make a 14-rider chase group that hounded the front duo for the majority of the stage.
“When we saw how threatening that break was, Jhonatan made a huge effort to get up there, which I think he paid for later on,” remarked Louder.
Narvaez, who recently announced he would race with the WorldTour squad Quick-Step Floors in 2018, utilized his climbing prowess to thrive in the tough conditions. With nearly five deep crowds lining the roads to the summit, lively music, dancing, and costumes buoyed riders over the top.
In the end, Alex Howes (Cannondale Drapac) edged out Eisenhart at the line. Eisenhart earned enough time bonuses to move into the overall race lead.
Heading into Stage 3 with significant time gaps separating the overall race, Louder expects the 81-mile stage to be a day for the bold opportunists. The out-and-back course runs from downtown Denver to Golden Gate Canyon State Park via the Peak to Peak Highway.
Photo: Davey Wilson