Like many compatriots, Patrick Gretsch is a skilled time trialist. But the young, powerful German also further developed another skill Monday — patience.
After pedaling to the early best time, Gretsch (HTC-Highroad) waited nearly two hours before securing his nearly two-second Monday over Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervelo) on the opening day of the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
Gretsch, 24, a time trial specialist, completed the 5.2-mile prologue in 8 minutes, and 27.6 seconds and will wear the race leader's jersey Tuesday in the 99.3-mile Salida to Mt. Crested Butte stage 1 road race.
The prologue, which included a few technical turns and large downhill section, was also particularly fast. Gretsch averaged 36.61 mph while collecting his second pro victory.
Last week, Gretsch finished third in the stage 3 individual time trial at the Tour of Utah.
"We trained on the course a lot," said Gretsch. "I rode in maybe 10 times in practice, but I took the big corner a few miles slower today, but it was still a strong ride."
Gretsch is expected to ride in a support role for Tejay Van Garderen, one of the pre-race favorites for the overall title.
"The next days are not so good for me," said Gretsch. "Tejey is much better than me in the mountains, but I rode very hard today and I am very happy."
Vande Velde, 35, of Lemont, Ill., a two-time Tour de France top-10 finisher who competes for Colorado-based Garmin-Cervelo, trailed Gretsch by 1.71 seconds in the field of 130 riders from 17 teams.
Brent Bookwalter (BMC), 27, of Albuquerque, N.M., was third, trailing the winner by 3.81 seconds.
Robert Förster (UnitedHealthcare) of Germany, was fourth, trailing six seconds, with compatriot Jens Voigt (Leopard Trek) fifth another second back.
"My goal was not to end my season today," said Vande Velde, who placed 17th overall last month in the Tour de France in which his squad won the team time trial and the team title. "It was a scary corner and it was very fast."
Vande Velde, who placed fourth overall at the Tour of California, is a leading contender for the overall title.
"I was surprised today," said Vande Velde, the 11th starter on the course. "It puts me in good position, but I was surprised to be on the podium. I was thinking for a better position in the Vail time trial (stage 3)."
Reigning Tour de France titlist Cadel Evans (BMC) of Australia placed ninth, about eight seconds behind the winner.
The seven-day race continues through Sunday's stage 6, a 70.9-mile road race from Golden to Denver.
• Quiznos Leader Jersey – Patrick Gretsch (GER) of HTC-Highroad
• Nissan King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey – N/A
• Smashburger Sprint Jersey – N/A
• Sheets Best Young Rider’s Jersey –Tejay Van Garderen (USA) of HTC-Highroad
• Exergy Most Aggressive Jersey – Danny Pate (USA) of HTC-Highroad
• First – Patrick Gretsch (GER) of HTC-Highroad
• Second – Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo
• Third – Brent Bookwalter (USA) of BMC Racing Team
Check out this interview with 2011 TdF winner Cadel Evans after he finished the today's prologue.