USA Pro Challenge: Tejay van Garderen climbs into the lead on Crested Butte
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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

USA Pro Challenge: Tejay van Garderen climbs into the lead on Crested Butte

by Ben Atkins at 5:53 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
BMC Racing rider outsprints Christian Vande Velde as break is caught in the final kilometre

tejay van garderenTejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) raced into the lead of the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge as he rode away from Christian Vande Velde at the end of the second stage, between Montrose and Crested Butte. The 24-year-old from Washington state burst from the front of the peloton in the final kilometre of the short climb to the finish, with Vande Velde on his wheel, passing Ivan Rovny (RusVelo), who had recently bridged across to the front of the stage-long break and, despite a challenge from the Garmin-Sharp rider, managed to sprint to victory.

Vande Velde finished several lengths behind the BMC Racing rider, although he was awarded the same time, with Rovny holding on to take third at the end of the 159.3km stage.

After the stage van Garderen explained that he hadn’t originally intended to go for the seconds stage, "but then toward the end, our guys started working and started bringing the gap to the breakaway down," he said. "So I couldn't let them down.

“I also knew this day, the race from Aspen to Beaver Creek [Stage 4 - ed] and Stage 6 to Boulder would be the decisive ones,” he added. “So I thought I'd hit out early and give it a shot.”

Victory on the stage also meant that van Garderen took over the race lead, with overnight yellow jersey Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) dropped on the early slopes of the climb.

“It's going to take a little bit of luck and the team staying together, and riding as the best unit as we can,” said BMC Racing assistant directeur Michael Sayers. “I think the most experienced guys like Cadel Evans and George Hincapie will be big. It's going to come down to them helping Tejay.”

The stage was dominated by a 12-man breakaway, which formed on the first climb of the day inside the opening 25km. Rafael Infantino and Camilo Castiblanco (both EPM-UNE), Valerio Agnoli and Vincenzo Nibali (both Liquigas-Cannondale) Alex Howes and Dave Zabriskie (both Garmin-Sharp), Julien El Fares (Team Type 1-Sanofi), Craig Lewis (Champion System), Matthias Frank (BMC Racing), Matt Cooke (Exergy), Chris Baldwin (Bissell), (Liquigas-Cannondale), and Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan) managed to get 5’40” clear in the middle of the stage, before being reeled in by a number of teams before the finish.

Even with 15km to go the 12 riders held a two-minute lead but, as their co-operation dwindled, the peloton accelerated and this was cut to just 40 seconds as they began the final 4.1km climb to the finish.

Castiblanco put in the first attack, but he was caught and passed by Frank with two kilometres to go. The Swiss rider was in turn caught by Rovny, who had attacked the peloton on the approach to the climb, but van Garderen quickly passed him with Vande Velde in tow and managed to take the sprint.

The break goes on the early climb and looks uncatchable at the finish

After the big climbs of the first day, stage two’s would be smaller, but the big difference was that this was to be the first uphill finish of the race, up to the 2874 metre high ski resort.

After some initial flurries at the beginning of the stage, Infantino, Castiblanco, Agnoli and El Fares escaped on the approach to the first climb, Lewis quickly jumped across to them, and they were joined by Frank, Cooke, Baldwin, Nibali, Howes, Zabriski and Voigt shortly afterwards.

Castilblanco jumped away to win both the 3rd category climbs at Cerro, after 26.8km, and Blue Mesa, after 49.5km. The group’s advantage grew to 5’40” before RusVelo began leading the chase to bring them back.

On the wide, straight roads, the break passed largely without incident, with the one bit of excitement being caused by a puncture for Cooke, with 83km to go, taking an age to change as his team mechanic tried to insert the wheel the wrong way around. He faced a long chase to rejoin the other eleven leaders but eventually made his way through the cars and was back with them with 78km to go.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Astana now helping with the chase and the gap dropped below five minutes, and through the feedzone at the stage’s mid point it had dropped to 4’45”.

As Howes took the intermediate sprint in Gunnison with 51.9km to go, the gap was still 4’20”, and was holding as the peloton struggled to close on the still-cooperating group.

Shortly afterwards though, the break accelerated a little up front, and Voigt, El Fares, Agnoli and Nibali drifted off the back. Agnoli pulled Nibali way back up to the group however, and dropped back again himself just as Zabriskie tested the water with an attack.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step leading the peloton with UnitedHealthcare and Astana, but the gap was still not closing. With 25km to go it was still 4’05”, and the remaining nine riders up ahead were still working well together.

With 22km to go Infantino attacked, but on the long, flat road he was only able to get a few seconds clear, where he was to dangle before the group rolled back up to him three kilometres later.

From this point the cooperation evaporated a little in the group, although most riders were still rolling through, and inside the final 15km the peloton had reduced the gap to less than three minutes. Frank tried to accelerate away from the others but was quickly pulled back.

Team Type 1-Sanofi and BMC Racing had also come to the front and with 14km to go the gap fell below two minutes, but it still looked very much like the group would stay away to fight out the stage victory; the riders in the lead had begun to look at one another, but most of them continued working together.

Howes led over the intermediate sprint again, as the leaders passed through Crested Butte, with 4.9km to go, and the climb began shortly afterwards. The peloton was just 40 seconds behind them, and Rovny took his chance to try and bridge across.

As the climb began in earnest Castiblanco attacked with 3.5km to go, as the peloton was splitting into pieces on the road behind him. Farrar was among those dropped, but the front half was still not close enough to the breakaway group for it to look like catching up.

The Colombian was just four seconds ahead ahead of his former companions however, and with 2km to go Frank rode up and past him. Behind the others began to attack one another, but the Swiss rider was clear as he passed under the final kilometre banner.

Rovny finally managed to cross the gap from the peloton at this point but, as he clawed his way past Frank, van Garderen accelerated around him with Vande Velde on his wheel. The BMC Rider led all the way into the finishing area, until Vande Velde tried to come past him with 300 metres to go and they briefly rode side by side.

Van Garderen kicked again though, and distanced the Garmin-Sharp rider to take a solo stage victory and pull on the yellow jersey.

Result stage 2
1. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
2. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Sharp
3. Ivan Rovny (Rus) RusVelo @ 6s
4. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 8s
5. Wilson Rincon (Col) EPM-UNE
6. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Sharp @ 12s
7. Joe Dombrowski (USA) Bontrager-Livestrong
8. Lucas Euser (USA) Spidertech p/b C10
9. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
10. Johan Tschopp (Swi) BMC Racing Team

Standings after stage 2
1. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
2. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Sharp
3. Ivan Rovny (Rus) RusVelo @ 6s
4. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 8s
5. Ramiro Rincon (Col) EPM-UNE
6. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
7. Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1-Sanofi
8. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan
9. Janez Brajkovič (Slo) Team Astana
10. Lucas Euser (USA) Spidertech p/b C10


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