Colorado Classic: Americans John Murphy, Jenn Valenta lead pack after Stage 1 through Garden of the Gods – Colorado News

Colorado Classic: Americans John Murphy, Jenn Valenta lead pack after Stage 1 through Garden of the Gods – Colorado News

COLORADO SPRINGS — Sun, hail, redline sprints and hometown heroes were the name of the game at the opening stage of the brand-new Colorado Classic, with Colorado’s Jenn Valente of Team Sho-Air Twenty 20 snagging the women’s overall lead and John Murphy of Holowesko/Citadel Racing sprinting down the stretch to capture the overall race leader jersey for the men.

Stage 1 was hosted on a 15.5-mile circuit course from downtown Colorado Springs to the Garden of the Gods and back. The route featured a harsh hill climb up Ridge Road, followed by a dramatic descent for both the men’s and women’s races, according to a post-race release from race officials.

On the men’s side, weather played a huge role in the final two laps, as riders battled thunderstorms and small hail for a good portion of their contest.

Unable to see through his glasses following the downpour, Murphy said teammates Joe Lewis and Bryon Miguel guided him through the field to the finishing sprint down the final 500 meters of the course.

“It was a perfect lead out — textbook — and I was super happy to be able to go all the way to the finish,” said Murphy, who has the distinction of being the last man to win a stage of the now-defunct USA Pro Challenge with a victory in Denver in 2015. He also won on a stage of the Tour of Utah last week and wasn’t sure to what he could ascribe his newfound success.

“Dad strength? We had our first son in September of last year,” Murphy quipped, before crediting the “freedom” provided racers on his team. “We’re a little less afraid to take chances and do some cool stuff.”

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