USA Pro Challenge: Tyler Farrar takes stage one sprint after his teammates’ break is foiled
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Monday, August 20, 2012

USA Pro Challenge: Tyler Farrar takes stage one sprint after his teammates’ break is foiled

by Ben Atkins at 5:15 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
 
Garmin-Sharp goes on the offensive over Lizard Head Pass but the peloton comes back for the finish

Tyler FarrarTyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) won the opening stage of the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge between Durango and Telluride, to take his first solo victory since the 2011 Tour de France. The American sprinter managed to take advantage of a lead out from Australian Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare), whose own sprinter was nowhere to be seen, jumped away from the rest, and finished several lengths clear.

In second place was Alessandro Bazzana (Team Type 1-Sanofi), just ahead of Damiano Caruso (Liquigas-Cannondale), with many of the other sprinters left behind on the tough mountain stage.

This trip is the first time I have come and done the big U.S. stage races since 2009," said Farrar afterwards. "It's special as an American to come and race the big races in your own country and have a bunch of fans cheering for you.

"For our team obviously racing in Colorado is hugely important so it's a nice bonus for us," he added.

"We weren't riding for a sprint today, our goal was to get guys like Tom [Danielson] and Pete [Stetina] up the road to take time on GC," Farrar explained. "I was lucky to be able to hang on and salvage it in the sprint after they got caught."

The 202km stage was animated by a large breakaway group that escaped early on and managed to build a lead of up to 5’40” in the first half. Originally, there were 22 riders present, but it was reduced to nine as they began the long climb to Lizard Head Pass. Present were Tom Danielson and Peter Stetina (Garmin-Sharp), George Hincapie (BMC Racing), Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), Andrew Bajadali (Optum), Serghei Tvetcov (Exergy), Eduard Beltran (EPM-UNE) and Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).

As they neared the top of the climb, and with the peloton closing in, Danielson attacked and only Nibali, Beltran and Stetina could get up to him on the descent. The two Garmin-Sharp riders then escaped on the small climb to Alta with just over 15km to go, but they were eventually caught but the UnitedHealthcare-led peloton with just over five remaining.

There was a late attack from Ben King (RadioShack-Nissan), Ted King (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp), but the remains of the peloton was all together as it came into the finish.

The big break goes big and early and looks like it’s gone

The opening stage of the race was to be a long, hard slog across the mountains and, with the high point on the 3115 metre high Lizard Head Pass coming with just 25km to go, there were plenty of opportunities for climbers and breakaway specialists. The descent to the finish, and the exposed run to the line was to tip the balance back in favour of the sprinters in the peloton however, if they could survive the mountains that came before.

The 22-man group was formed as Danielson, Stetina and Dave Zabriskie (all Garmin-Sharp), Voigt, Nibali, Beltran and Ivan Rovny (RusVelo) escaped shortly after the first intermediate sprint just over 10km into the stage.

During the next few kilometres, two chase groups formed, consisting of Lachlan Morton, (Garmin-Sharp), George Hincapie (BMC Racing), George Bennett (RadioShack-Nissan), Valerio Agnoli and Timmy Duggan (both Liquigas-Cannondale), Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Tanel Kangert (Astana), Ryan Roth (Spidertech p/b C10), Jeremy Vennell and Ben Jacques-Maynes (both Bissell), Andrew Bajadali and Michael Creed (both Optum), Josh Atkins (Bontrager-Livestrong), Serghei Tvetcov (Exergy), and Freddy Piamonte (EPM-UNE). Both groups came together, and joined up with the leaders just before the climb to Hesperus, which topped out just before the 40km point.

46km into the stage, the large group was 5’40” ahead and, with so many big names present, it looked as though it would continue to fight out the stage. As BMC Racing, Astana and Omega Pharma-Quick Step led the peloton though, the gap began to gradually fall until, when it was little more than 3’30” with 80km to go, Nibali and Danielson escaped the others. They were chased down by Hincapie, Stetina, Voigt, Bajadali, Tvetcov and Beltran, with Zabriskie and Velits joining soon afterwards; the front group was now down to ten riders - including three from Garmin-Sharp - with the others slowly drifting back to the peloton.

The initial attack lifted the gap back up to four minutes once more, but it drifted back to 3’45”, where it was to remain for some kilometres. Having fought to get back into the break, on the long drag to the climb of Lizard Head Pass, Zabriskie dropped off the back of the break, and almost ground to a halt as he was physically sick on the road.

The nine riders continued up ahead, although Garmin-Sharp had lost much of its advantage, while Astana, Bissell and Team Type 1-Sanofi led the peloton behind them. With 40km Astana began to increase the pace, with the help of BMC Racing, and as it began to rain on the upper slopes of the climb, they began to make serious progress into the group’s advantage.

As the peloton comes back Garmin-Sharp goes on the offensive

Into the final 30km - and with five kilometres still to climb - with the gap down to just 1’20” Danielson attacked. Behind him the group began to split, with Hincapie and Velits the first to drop back to the peloton; Voigt and Bajadali were next to be caught, leaving just Nibali, Beltran and Stetina between the peloton and Danielson up ahead.

Over the top of the climb, with 25km to go, the Garmin-Sharp rider was 15 seconds clear of the three chasers, with the peloton only 30 seconds further back.

With 21km to go the three chasers caught up with Danielson, but the peloton had closed to just 35 seconds. As the peloton was getting closer on the short climb to Alta however, Nibali and Beltran sat up, leaving just the two Garmin-Sharp riders up front. UnitedHealthcare was leading the peloton behind them and, as they crossed the top of the climb with 14.8km to go, Danielson and Stetina still had 30 seconds.

As the two teammates descended to the final, flat run to the line, their lead dropped to just 15 seconds, as UnitedHealthcare still led the chase behind them. Neither rider was giving up but, with six kilometres to go, the peloton had them in sight and they were back in the peloton a few moments later.

Just inside four kilometres Ben King (RadioShack-Nissan), with Ted King (Liquigas-Cannondale), then Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp) jumped across to them. UnitedHealthcare was keen to hold things together though and pulled them back before they reached the two kilometre banner. No one team was taking control and, on the final right-angle bends in the final kilometre saw several riders at the front of the peloton, but no sign of an organised train.

Sutherland led into the finishing straight, but his sprinter wasn’t there; Farrar was though, right on the Australian’s wheel, and with 200 metres to go he opened up his sprint and pulled away from the rest.

Result stage 1
1. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp
2. Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1-Sanofi
3. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
4. Fred Rodriguez (USA) Team Exergy
5. Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare
6. Gavin Mannion (USA) Bontrager-Livestrong
7. Kiel Reijnen (USA) Team Type 1-Sanofi
8. Alex Candelario (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Systems
9. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan
10. Jorge Castiblanco (Col) EPM-UNE

Standings after stage 1
1. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp
2. Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1-Sanofi
3. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
4. Fred Rodriguez (USA) Team Exergy
5. Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare
6. Gavin Mannion (USA) Bontrager-Livestrong
7. Kiel Reijnen (USA) Team Type 1-Sanofi
8. Alex Candelario (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Systems
9. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan
10. Jorge Castiblanco (Col) EPM-UNE

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