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The 1984 Coors Classic Part Three: Game On!
By Staff
Date: 12/28/2003
The 1984 Coors Classic Part Three: Game On!

By Dave Towle
The Winners Circle

Part One
Part Two

The prologue for the 1984 Coors Classic was held in the same place as it had been the last 3 years, starting with a lap around Chautauqua Park, then continuing straight up Flagstaff Mountain, finishing right in front of the Flagstaff House, one of the finest restaurants in Colorado.

When I was about 14, I got my first job washing dishes at the restaurant, and my friends Bryan and Geoff Albert would ride with me to work, always finishing with the brutal final mile of climbing to the restaurant. We used to get done with work at 2 in the morning (it was a hard job!). We had plenty of hair-raising races down the mountain each Friday and Saturday night, on the way home after work. It’d be lying if I said we never crashed, but it was amazing we never really had any serious incidents. I guess what I’m trying to get across here, is that Flagstaff was a brutal, albeit short, way to get the race started.

The real purpose with the prologue was to get the leader's jerseys sorted out, and give the fans a chance to see the “giants of the road,” up close and in person, on the start ramp. It was so cool, seeing all the national team jerseys, something that I’d never seen before, and the Irish guys had one of the coolest kits, with their sweet, all green jersey. It’s kind of strange, to look back at the “retro” national jerseys, and what the riders wear today.  I’d challenge anyone to look at the national team jerseys the riders wore in 1984, and tell me that all the shamrocks, swirls and whatnot of today look better. That’s just my opinion, but maybe we can get a movement going!

I’d already mentioned in previous editions of this series how the guys weren’t exactly digging the altitude or intense sun at 5,300 feet, in Colorado. Actually, they loved the sun, maybe too much, as Phil still looked in a spot of bother; every time he had to do anything that involved having fabric rub against his back!  There was another American who worked with the team, and was actually at a lot higher level than I on the totem pole of rank in the team. I mention that, just so you understand my role; I was a gopher, and damn proud of it.

Downtown Boulder. Courtesy City of Boulder.

Well, the prologue started at about 4pm on a Friday, and the steady stream of people making their way up from town to the start was great to see, as this would be one of the more unique editions of the 14 years of Classics and Zingers. The rain never came, as it usually does every afternoon in Boulder during the summer. I’ll never forget when Gary Thompson made his way back down the mountain, after his go. He was shocked at how hard it was, and I think the look in his eyes put a little fear into the rest of the guys, who hadn’t left yet. This was going to hurt!

I take the following excerpt from the book Rough Ride, by Paul Kimmage. To give you a little context, Paul is speaking about some time he spent with Sean Kelly. They were having a discussion on the topic of after taking a really long sauna, and Sean asked Paul, “Did you ever feel this tired after a race?”

“I thought about it. Yes I had, but only once. It was in the prologue of the Coors Classic, in Boulder, Colorado, a few weeks before the Olympic road race in L.A. The finish was at the top of a hard climb, and I remember losing consciousness about 50 meters before the line and waking up with a blanket around me five minutes later. It was the only time in my life that I ever myself pushed beyond my limits.”--Paul Kimmage

I think that just about says it all. Every time up the mountain, the rider would have a follow car or moto with a spare bike and or wheels, depending on the slot in the rotation the rider had. The big difference was, if you had the kind soul of Jackie Watson, the team’s mechanic, following you, you were allowed to race in peace. If you had Pat McQuaid, the “Godfather” of modern Irish cycling, you had to deal with a Manolo Saiz style verbal barrage the whole way up the climb. It was the Irish equivalent of “Venga, venga venga”, and it was hilarious to hear the guys doing their imitations of what it was like when Pat wasn’t around.

It was actually taking the top guys only four minutes to get up the hill, and in true Genevieve Jeanson style, Maria Canins, the eventual winner of the woman’s race, was beating a lot of the men’s times. The team had a huge reality sandwich that night, as they realized that this was going to be a very tough race, and they were already starting to look ahead to the Olympics, and using the Coors to get ready for the bigger picture. The team now faced the not so pleasant prospect of racing up to 9,000 feet a few times, over the course of 100 miles the next morning.

Maria Canins with Francesco Moser.
Courtesy Maratona dles Dolomites.

We headed back to the University of Colorado campus, where the teams stayed in the dorms when racing in the Boulder area. It was actually a really nice set-up. The campus is one of the nicest in the country, and the race had become quite popular in the last few years, with actual groupies hanging around when we came out of dinner. The guys always seemed to really enjoy the fame that came along with the Olympic selection, and it was actually very fun to see them out of their element, but still having a blast!

There’s a lot more to came, and we’ll be back with the rest of the race.

Thanks for reading.

Flagstaff Road in 1921. Courtesy City of Boulder.

Read about the upcoming Red Zinger and Coors Classic DVD Series here!

Read the 1981 Coors Classic Series here.
The 1981 Coors Classic
The 1981 Coors Classic: Part Two
The 1981 Coors Classic: Part Three
The 1981 Coors Classic: Part Four
The 1981 Coors Classic: Part Five
The 1981 Coors Cycling Classic: Part Six

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