USA Pro Challenge: Sagan Blasts To Stage 1 Win

Race Coverage

Colorado’s Rocky Mountains provide a stunning backdrop for a little bike racing.

The 2013 USA Pro Challenge started with a bang as 128 riders from 31 countries rolled out of Aspen to embark on a punch-packing circuit race. After three 22-mile laps, with 3,080 feet of climbing per lap, Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling) pulled out the sprint win, with Belgian Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) second and American Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare) in third.

Comprised of three circuits that included a total of two sprint lines and four king of the mountains spots, the stage gave riders a taste of what lies ahead over the next six days: lots of climbing.

After two short, neutral laps through Aspen, the race got off to an exciting start with a seven-man breakaway. But the break would prove to be short lived, as they were caught within the first three miles of the race. The action continued though with an immediate counter-attack from Craig Lewis (Champion Systems), Matt Cooke (Jamis-Hagens Berman-Sutter) and Ian Burnett (Jelly Belly-Kenda) that stuck for most of the stage.

Heading into the final lap of the day, with the break still intact, the second sprint in Aspen saw Lewis cross the line first, followed by Burnett and Cooke. With the pressure building, the peloton started closing the gap with Cannondale Pro Cycling leading the chase through town to the roaring cheers of fans lining the route.

Sagan grabs the stage 1 win in Aspen.

At just under 10 miles from the finish, and RadioShack Leopard Trek setting the pace, the chase was on and the peloton began closing in on the break. One by one the three riders were swallowed into the field, but just prior to that, Cooke claimed the last KOM competition, followed by Lachlan David Morton (Garmin-Sharp) and Chris Baldwin (Bissell).

Just as Cooke was caught, a follow-up attack was made by seven riders, which quickly dwindled to two – George Bennett (RadioShack Leopard Trek) and Carter Jones (Bissell). With about half a mile to go, BMC led the chase trying to set up for the sprint finish, but in the end Sagan turned up the gas and crossed the finish line first.

“I’m very happy. I’m thankful for my teammates and the support from the fans,” said Sagan. “I felt good today. I came here two weeks ago to adjust to the altitude and I think it really helped me prepare for the race.”

In a near sweep of the jerseys Sagan took the leader’s jersey, sprint jersey and best young rider jersey. Cooke was awarded the King of the Mountains Jersey, and the Most Courageous Rider Jersey went to Lewis after riding in the break for most of the day.

USA Pro Cycling Challenge 2013

Stage 1: Aspen to Aspen 68 miles
Stage Result
s
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling, 2:26:00
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team, same time
3. Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, same time
4. Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard, same time
5. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team, same time

General Classification
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling, 2:26:00
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team, same time
3. Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, same time
4. Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard, same time
5. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team, same time

Stage 2

Tuesday, Aug. 20 – Aspen to Breckenridge (202.9 km/126.1 mi)
Start Time: 10:10 a.m. MT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:50 p.m. MT
Satellite Feed Time: 4:30-4:45 p.m. MT

While much of the Stage 2 course has been used in previous years, 2013 will mix things up by taking the riders in different directions, creating a unique new stage. The familiar battleground of Independence Pass will be anything but easy as riders ascend the 12,000-foot climb, the highest point reached in any professional cycling race. Then they’ll continue on through some familiar spots as the race zooms through Buena Vista, Fairplay and Alma, before tackling Hoosier Pass from the south this year. But it’s not over until it’s over, so before crossing the line, the riders will have to conquer the nasty 15 percent grade of Moonstone Road in the heart of Breckenridge, before bombing down Boreas Pass to the waiting crowd. If you can’t get there in person, fans can view the race on the daily NBC Sports Network and NBC broadcasts. Stage 2 will air live on NBC Sports tomorrow at 2 p.m. MST.

USA Pro Challenge: Sagan Blasts To Stage 1 Win Gallery
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Dreamy

Colorado's Rocky Mountains provide a stunning race backdrop.
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Gotcha

Slovakian Peter Sagan sails across the line first in Aspen.
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Party Time

Sagan Celebrates his stage 1 win.
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Podium Time

Sagan gets the obligatory kisses.
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Stage 2 Map

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