If you blinked your eyes you would have missed the racer you were looking for. If the racers had been driving a car they would have been slapped with a ticket for speeding.
For months, Nederland residents have been anticipating the USA Pro Challenge Race coming through town. Friends and family of local racer Timmy Duggan wore green shirts and stood under a giant poster on the mining museum which proudly announced, “Home of Timmy Duggan.”
The sixth leg of the Challenge began in Golden, charged through Boulder, pushed up the Canyon, and then sped through the roundabout in Nederland and north to Highway 7 where it headed down to Boulder and ended up at Flagstaff.
Christian Vande Velde won the overall title, finishing second on Sunday behind Taylor Phinney in the closing time trial, but most of all, the Nederland crowd was waiting to see their local hero come over the rise from the dam in first place. Weeks ago, Duggan said that it was his goal to be number one as he rode through his home town.
Nederland was super charged with energy and excitement as the crowd lined the streets of town and stretched out along the Peak to Peak route. Local law enforcement and race security set up a line through town, trying to keep the road open for race traffic. When the first blip of the sirens was heard, a cheer went up, cameras were held over the heads of the crowd as spectators pushed forward, leaning into the road, hoping Duggan would be first.
The surge came through faster than anyone thought it would. The lead pack zoomed into town in a bundle, and Duggan’s red, white and blue shirt and red helmet was out front. As he passed the crowd he raised his right hand, but kept his eyes on the turn leading out of town.
It was a breath-taking moment — the blur of team colors, the race cars careening through the turnabout waving to the people lining the streets honking horns, motorcycles hitting their sirens.
Duggan’s wife, Lauren, jumped up and down and so did her parents, Lee and Rich Tillotson, as the lead pack disappeared and the second wave came through town in another stream of helmets, whirring pedals and flashing spokes. In minutes it was over. The racers charged up towards Ward where spectators lined the highway. Nederland residents filled the road, the intersection was opened to traffic and the race became a memory, one great brilliant moment for Timmy Duggan and his home-town fans.
After the race, Duggan said that the crowd through Nederland at the roundabout was one of the densest, most rowdiest sections of fans on the route.
“It was such a thrill to lead the race through Nederland wearing the national champion jersey in front of so many friends and family,” Duggan said. “I was thinking about Saturday’s stage for months, and it played out exactly how I imagined and how I had hoped. I really wanted to win this Saturday’s stage, but unfortunately I just wasn’t quite the strongest on the finish to Flagstaff and had to settle for fifth place on the day. I rode a good race and was excited to at least put on a good show even if I couldn’t take out the win.”
Duggan will be home in Nederland for the week before heading up to Quebec and Montreal, Canada, where he will rejoin the Liquigas-Cannondale team for the two World Tour events there. At the end of the month, he will compete at the World Championships in Valkenberg, Holland, where he will join his U.S. teammates from the Olympics. Meanwhile, he is looking forward to a relaxed week of soaking up the beginning of fall and getting in a little mountain biking.
Duggan ended up 21st overall of 95 riders, coming in with a time of 26:01.26. This was only the second USA Pro Challenge but it has already gained Tour de France status in this country and will be the race of dreams for many racing cyclists.