November, 2001 Fit to be Tied Column
From the Pueblo Chieftain
by Gary Franchi
Year of cycling for Saeco team toughened Pueblo native Pate
Sometimes you have to take one pedal backward in order to move two pedals forward.
Living proof is Pueblo native Danny Pate, a 22-year-old cycling phenom. Pate capped a fantastic year of racing last month when he won the men’s under-23 time trial championship at the 2001 World Road Cycling Championships in Lisbon, Portugal.
In doing so, Pate became the first American ever to win a medal – any medal – in this event for 19- to 22-year-olds since it was started in 1996. What’s more, he won the very hilly 33.7-kilometer (20.89 miles) event by an eye-opening 38 seconds with his finishing time of 46 minutes and 29.35 seconds.
Still, the unassuming Pate was not bowled over by his own performance, preferring to put it in perspective when contacted at his home in Colorado Springs, where he is getting a well-deserved month of rest.
“I knew the course and I knew I could be in the top five,” he said. “I had won a couple of time trials in Europe before, so I was confident. It wasn’t really the biggest win I’ve had … I think it’s a bigger deal to everyone else than to me.”
Pate wasn’t kidding about having had bigger wins. In 2001 alone, he had five victories among his 92 races. One of them was the Triptyque Ardennais stage race in May in Belgium when he raced for the under-23 U.S. National Team that was sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service.
This event is considered one of the most prestigious stage races in the world for under-23 cyclists and is dominated annually by Italians. Pate won the four-day race in 16 hours, 47 minutes and 31 seconds, and he was among only 68 of the 137 entrants who completed what is called a grueling 665-kilometer (412 miles) event.
Achieving glory this year is nice, but Pate has had to pay his dues. While he’s been doing some racing in Europe for more than three years, he spent six straight months racing in Europe in 2000 as a member of Italy’s Saeco team, being the typical stranger in a strange land.
He was the lone American on the team and the only one who spoke English. His roommate was Russian. When he arrived in Italy, he couldn’t speak any Italian. What’s more, he was competing on turf that is usually dominated by ultra-competitive European cyclists who generally regard U.S. cyclists with disdain.
“Europeans don’t really respect Americans, ” he said. “The competition in Europe … it’s harder there. The talent pool is larger. Cycling is really big there, like baseball is here.”
Many Americans crack when they first race overseas for any length of time, but not Pate. He learned, got tougher, trained and raced hard, and came back to America to race in 2001 as a member of the newly formed Prime Alliance team, which did the national racing circuit and several of whose members, like Pate, also raced periodically in Europe.
Early in 2001, you could say Pate broke through. He won the Usery Pass Time Trial and Reatta Pass Road Race, both held in Arizona in February. Later, there were second-place finishes in the Tour of Flanders in Belgium (under 23) and the Tour of Williamette in Oregon (overall place). The Triptyque Ardennais and the world time trial in Lisbon mentioned above were icing on the cake.
While Pate has lived in the Springs since he was in kindergarten, he has always had strong Pueblo roots. His dad, also named Dan Pate lives in Pueblo, works for Swerdfeger Construction, and is credited by the younger Danny with getting him started in cycling and in racing at the age of 15 as a mountain biker.
The senior Dan is an avid cyclist and is considered an excellent masters racer. Young Danny used to spend his summers living and cycling with his dad, and father and son still ride some together when Danny is in Colorado between racing junkets.
Most of the serious riders in Pueblo either have ridden with Danny or know of him, and they remember when he rode for the Colorado Cyclist team a few years ago. Many have heard of his exploits, which include having been the under-23 National Road Race Champion in 1998 and 1999 and the Elite National Road Race Champion as well in 1999.
Now, Pate hopes to continue racing for as long as he can and at the highest level possible. This year has been a good money-making year for him, and the success that he and his Prime Aliance teammates enjoyed have already started opening doors in terms of sponsorship dollars.
For instance, instead of riding many different brands of bikes as they did last year, the 12 team members are being supplied with 40 Pinarello bikes, including different models for training, road racing and time trials.
It should be a banner 2002 for Pate. Much like 2001 was.
The local racing year for runners is winding down fast, with just two races and two Prediction Series races remaining on the 2001 Pueblo calendar.
Two two races are the Atalanta Women’s Run, a 5K run/walk for women only on Saturday, Nov. 17, at Pueblo’s City Park. This annual race attracts women of all ability levels, including first-time racers.
The Rock Canyon Half-Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 2, has continued to grow steadily each year as it attracts more entrants from throughout the state. It is again based at City Park, and the course this year remains the one adopted last year because of construction on the River Trail system to the west of City Park. Hence, the course will head east again, taking in the HARP area and Runyon Lake.
The two low-key Prediction Series races are the Temple Canyon 4-mile run on Saturday, Nov. 24, and the 8-mile Excellent Adventure at 117 Regency on Sunday, Dec. 9.
Entry forms for the Atalanta and Rock Canyon races are available at the Pueblo YMCA and the Gold Dust Saloon. There is no registration for the Prediction Series events – just show up, guess your predicted time, and run the races without watches.
Upcoming Area Races
* Nov. 17 – Atalanta Women’s Run, 5K run/walk, City Park, 8:45 a.m. walk, 9 a.m. run (543-7779)
* Nov. 24 – Temple Canyon Prediction Run, 4M, Cañon City, 9 a.m. (784-6514)
* Dec. 2 – Rock Canyon Half-Marathon, 13M, City Park, 9 a.m. (564-9303)
* Dec. 9 – The Excellent Aventure, 8M, 117 Regency, 9 a.m. (564-6043)
Send comments and fitness information to Gary Franchi via e-mail at email@example.com.