Sagan does it again.
Cannondale’s Peter Sagan snagged his fourth stage win at the USA Pro Challenge, while BMC’s Tejay van Garderen wrapped up his second major U.S. stage race victory on the final day of the USA Pro Challenge in Denver on Sunday.
Van Garderen’s overall time of 22 hours, 38 minutes, and 48 seconds was 1:30 better than teammate Mathias Frank, with Garmin-Sharp’s Tom Danielson settling for a distant third at 1:42.
With the crowd in his adopted home state of Colorado chanting his name during his appearance on the podium, van Garderen said he was motivated to add another title to the one he earned in May at the Tour of California.
“It feels great,” said the Aspen resident who went to high school in Fort Collins. “I’ve been so close here multiple times. So to finally get the win is really amazing. This is a race that sometimes is hard to be motivated for after July. With this race on the calendar, it wasn’t a question of whether or not I was going to stay focused and stay motivated. This is my hometown race and I wanted it badly. It feels amazing to finally get this win.”
After a tough week of racing over mountains at high altitudes, the riders tackled their first flat stage of the race, a 72.4-mile circuit race in downtown Denver. Stage 7 included eight laps that showcased LoDo, City Park, and Civic Center Park. That gave fans a chance to see the riders nine times and the riders plenty of opportunities to familiarize themselves with the course, the stage brought another exciting finish to seven days of competitive racing.
The Colorado capitol played host to the final day of racing.
Under beautiful sunny skies, the race kicked off with a very short neutral section and then officially started at City Park. Five minutes into the stage there was a four-man breakaway, with three chasers following behind. The two groups quickly merged to form a seven-man break that would stick for most of the race. The break included:
Ben King (USA) of RadioShack Leopard Trek RadioShack
Christopher Juul Jensen (DEN) of Team Saxo-Tinkoff
Chun Kai Feng (TPE) of Champion System Pro Cycling Team
David Lozano Riba (ESP) of Team Novo Nordisk
Lucas Euser (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Tyler Wren (USA) of Jamis-Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home
Carson Miller (USA) of Jamis-Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home
With fans lined along the entire circuit, the riders were motivated to put on a good show. Cannondale Pro Cycling led the chase in the field and the gap fluctuated between 50 and 90 seconds.
With two laps to go, the race really started to heat up, with the field turning on the gas to catch the breakaway. Sensing that the end was drawing near, Euser attacked the break and pulled away. Miller and King caught up to create a new break of three in front of the splintering original group, but it wouldn’t be long before they were caught as well.
The end game was a familiar scene: Cannondale taking the front and setting up Sagan.
All the teams got set up to put their sprinters in position for the final dash to the finish line, and ultimately it was Sagan who pulled out the win, his fourth of the race. He was followed by Ryan Anderson (CAN) of Optum Presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies who took second in the stage and Alessandro Bazzana (ITA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team who took third.
“The USA Pro Challenge has been a great addition for us. You always go in wanting to win,” said Danielson. “This was a strong course with stiff competition. I’m really happy and the team is really happy that we gave it our all and made the race. For me to finally stand on the podium in Denver was great.”
The final podium ceremony.
USA Pro Cycling Challenge 2013
Stage 7 Denver Circuit Race
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling 2:27:15
2. Ryan Anderson (Can) Optum p/b KBS same time
3. Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare same time
4. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team Argos-Shimano same time
5. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team same time
Final General Classification
1.Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 22:38:48
2. Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:01:30
3. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Sharp 0:01:42
4. Janier Alexis Acevedo Colle (Col) Jamis-Hagens Berman 0:02:10
5. Lachlan Morton (Aus) Garmin-Sharp 0:02:34
Smashburger Leader Jersey: Tejay van Garderen
Clif Bar Sprint Jersey: Peter Sagan
Nissan King of the Mountains Jersey: Matt Cooke
Colorado State University Best Young Rider Jersey: Lachlan Morton
FirstBank Most Courageous Rider Jersey: Ben King