After sprinting across the line to take the win in both Aspen and Steamboat Springs earlier in the week, Peter Sagan (SVK) of Cannondale Pro Cycling added a third USA Pro Challenge stage victory to his list after crossing the line first to the cheers of excited fans in Fort Collins.
The 115.2-mile stage through Northern Colorado included a Category 2 climb and several breakaways, but ultimately it came down to the final moments where Sagan edged out Luka Mezgec (SLO) of Team Argos-Shimano who came in second and Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) of BMC Racing Team in third.
Tejay van Garderen (USA) maintained his overall lead heading into the final day of racing tomorrow in Denver. And with just a flat circuit race to come, his overall win is all but assured.
“I’m having an amazing time racing here in Colorado on the roads that I used to train on in high school – it’s unbelievable,” said van Garderen. “The crowds here are incredible. Colorado is a cycling-crazy state.”
Stage 6 of the USA Pro Challenge took the riders through challenging terrain on a route through picturesque Northern Colorado from Loveland to Fort Collins by way of Estes Park and the tough climb up Big Thompson Canyon.
“Today’s stage of the USA Pro Challenge gave us the chance to showcase another beautiful part of the State of Colorado to the world,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge. “We saw impressive crowds cheering on the riders at the start line in Loveland all the way to the packed streets of Fort Collins this afternoon. The number of people that came out to watch the race today was amazing.”
After a short, neutral start heading out of town, the riders kicked it into high gear and punched up the speed to 40 mph.
Several attacks came early in the stage, including one from 2013 Tour de France Champion Chris Froome (GBR) of Sky Procycling, but nothing stuck. After reeling a big group in, the intact peloton reached the second Clif Bar Sprint Line of the day in Loveland, where Christopher Jones (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team crossed the line first.
After one more unsuccessful break attempt, Michael Rogers (AUS) of Team Saxo-Tinkoff showed his strength once again and pulled away from the group. He was followed by several riders that would comprise the day’s main breakaway, including:
Thomas Dekker (NED) of Team Garmin-Sharp
Andrew Talansky (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp
Joshua Edmondson (GBR) of Sky Procycling
Tiago Machado (POR) of RadioShack Leopard Trek
Bruno Pires (POR) of Team Saxo-Tinkoff
Timothy Duggan (USA) of Team Saxo-Tinkoff
Simon Geschke (GER) of Team Argos-Shimano
Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (COL) of Columbia
Javier Megias Leal (ESP) of Team Novo Nordisk
Christopher Jones (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Jeffry Louder (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Jonathan Patrick McCarty (USA) of Bissell Pro Cycling
Kirk Carlsen (USA) of Bissell Pro Cycling
Jesse Anthony (USA) of Optum Presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies
With the gap hovering around two minutes, the riders made it through the Feed Zone on the approach to the only Nissan King of the Mountains (KOM) competition of the day at Devil’s Gulch. Lined with enthusiastic, screaming fans at the top, Geschke crossed the line first, followed by Pires and Rogers. From there, it would only be about five, mostly downhill into Estes Park.
At about 22 miles until the end of the stage, things started to heat up. Cannondale continued to lead the front of the peloton, ensuring Sagan would be ready for the final run into Fort Collins, and with that speedy tempo, the gap started to shrink. Seizing the moment, two riders – Carlsen and Machado – attacked the break and were soon joined by Geschke and Duarte. But Geschke didn’t stop there and attacked the newly formed break of four with about 16 miles to the finish. Before long though, he was joined by several other riders, including Dekker, Edmonson, Rogers and Megias Leal.
As the remaining riders from the original break of 15 left in the second group got reabsorbed by the field, the situation consisted of the break out front, chased by Machado and Pires, followed by the field. With the break riding through a swarm of fans on the small, rolling, uncategorized hills leading to the slightly downhill finish in Fort Collins, Geschke went back to the field as well.
With the end of the stage nearing, the peloton chased down the breakaway and began to set up for a fast, final sprint into downtown Fort Collins. Teams started lining up their sprinters and sending them off the front, but in an all-out, intense sprint to the finish, it was the 2013 Tour de France Green Jersey winner once again taking the stage win.
“Today I’d like to thank all my teammates, they did great work all day, especially in the front for the breakaway,” said Sagan. “All the riders from my team did their best. I’m very happy to have won this stage.”
USA Pro Cycling Challenge 2013
Stage 6 Loveland to Fort Collins
185.4km – Stage Results
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling in 4:01:33
2. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team Argos-Shimano at same time
3. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team same time
4. Edwin Avila (Col) Colombia same time
5. Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare same time
1. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 20:11:33
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 0:02:43
5. Lachlan David Morton (Aus) Garmin-Sharp 0:03:07
Sunday, Aug. 25 – Denver Circuit Race (116.5 km/72.4 mi)
Start Time: 12:55 p.m. MT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:50 p.m. MT
Satellite Feed Time: 4:30-4:45 p.m. MT
The Denver Circuit takes the best parts of the 2011 and 2012 Denver stages and combines them into a new circuit. It still hits all the Denver highlights – LoDo, City Park and Civic Center Park. There isn’t a bad viewing spot. Watch for early breakaways…can they hold off the surging peloton? Watch the teams cue up and try to set up their sprinters…can they get to the front? Watch the last corner and see who has the nerve to take it the fastest and claim the final prize in the shadow of Colorado’s Capitol.