Champion System's Lewis Most Aggressive in Colorado Opener
Aspen, Colo - Champion System Pro Cycling Team's Craig Lewis earned the FirstBank Most Courageous Rider Jersey on Monday's opening stage of the USA Pro Challenge.
Champion System General Manager Ed Beamon said the team's goal was to get a rider into the break and he knew that Lewis, who lives in Boulder, Colo., would be driven.
"He has a lot of fans here and he was obviously motivated to do it," Beamon said. "He took a couple of hard shots to get in there."
Lewis attacked immediately after the start of the 97.6-kilometer stage and several other riders followed. While the other escapees were quickly reeled in, Lewis remained out front solo. Ian Burnett (Jelly Belly presented by Kenda) and Matt Cooke (Jamis-Hagens Berman) bridged up to Lewis and the trio eventually gained 2:35 on the peloton.
With 10 km remaining, Lewis and Burnett sat up and Cooke set off solo. The chasing peloton soon swept him up. Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling) won the field sprint to take the leader's jersey. Stagiaire Gregory Brenes is Champion System's best-placed rider in 11th with the same time as Sagan.
"It is great to start the race with a jersey and to get on the podium the first day," Lewis said. "It is kind-of my home state now. I love Aspen and I love the crowds in Colorado. I'm super motivated every day."
The seven-day race continues Tuesday with a 202.9-km stage running from Aspen to Breckenridge and features three categorized climbs.
"It is going to be interesting," Lewis said. "Starting up Independence Pass is going to be difficult and hopefully I can make the break again like I did last year."