Sutherland solves Voigt, solos to USA Pro Cycling Challenge stage six
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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sutherland solves Voigt, solos to USA Pro Cycling Challenge stage six

by Kyle Moore at 6:10 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
Leipheimer escapes to overall lead with Denver time trial tomorrow

USA Pro ChallengeRory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) broke away on the final climb of Flagstaff Hill on stage six of the USA Pro Challenge, caught and passed Jens Voigt (Radioshack-Nissan) on the way up, and then soloed to victory. The winner of stage one of the Tour of Utah, Sutherland continued a solid late summer campaign, and kept Voigt from taking a second stage in the race.

Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) used a late move out of the yellow jersey group to cross fourth on the stage, grabbing the overall lead from Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing), who cracked near the top of Flagstaff Hill.

The defending champion moves into yellow with just the Denver time trial remaining on Sunday, with a nine-second buffer on Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp). Van Garderen drops to third, 21 seconds behind, and tied on time with Joe Dombrowski (Bontrager-Livestrong).

Sutherland was part of the original 14-man breakaway that got away early. Also in the break were Fabio Aru (Astana), who held on for second on stage six, and Voigt, who crossed third. Leipheimer crossed 45 seconds behind Sutherland, pulling out 17 seconds on Vande Velde.

After splitting on the early slopes of Flagstaff Hill, Voigt blew up the breakaway for good, with the peloton two minutes behind on the road and six kilometres to race uphill. After working for team-mate George Bennett earlier in the day, Voigt’s boundless energy began to wane, and Sutherland sensed his moment. The Aussie accelerated and was soon with the German, before quickly leaving him behind.

The yellow jersey group left too much room to the remaining break and could only fight for remaining placings, and Leipheimer’s pressure put Van Garderen into the red.

“I had no idea if I was going to make it or not,” an elated Sutherland told reporters at the finish. “You just go. There’s no choice,” he said before greeting his young son.

“Flagstaff is such a beautiful mountain. I can’t even describe the beauty of cycling in Colorado and how much it means to win in my hometown of Boulder. This is definitely the biggest win of my career.”

The aura of the final moments on Flagstaff Hill was not lost on Leipheimer either, after zipping up the race leader’s jersey. “Today was amazing. I saw all kinds of colorful characters up on Flagstaff and it was inspiring,” Leipheimer stated. “I knew I had to save my strength for today. When I was nearing the finish, I just focused on giving it everything I had. Today was one of the most beautiful days of cycling I’ve ever seen.”

The always-aggressive Voigt got proceedings underway after the drop of the flag, pulling a smaller group with him, before many more decided to join up. While it looked for a while as if the move wouldn’t stick, 14 would eventually get away.

Sutherland, Aru, Voigt, Bennett, Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp), Paolo Longo Borghini and Tim Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale), Christopher Jones (UnitedHealthcare), Rubens Bertogliati (Team Type 1-Sanofi), Biao Liu (Champion System), Christopher Baldwin (Bissell), Serghei Tvetcov (Exergy), Francisco Colorado and Robigzon Oyola (EPM-UNE) were the bunch that was allowed some room, while Carter Jones (Bissell) and Joey Rosskopf (Team Type 1-Sanofi) toiled away behind in an attempt to catch the group.

The duo would get within 1’10” early in the race, after 25km were gone, at which point the peloton was already four minutes behind. But over the course of a long, 40km drag uphill to the town of Nederland, the chasing duo wore down and eventually gave in, getting absorbed by the BMC-led peloton after another 25 kilometres had passed.

In a style similar to the Vuelta a España stage earlier in the day, early kilometres were passed quietly with two decisive climbs coming consecutively at the finish. Completing the long descent back down into the town of Lyons, the peloton was holding the 14 men in front at an advantage of 3’40”. Abandons by Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), Jake Keough (UnitedHealthcare) and Andy Bajadali (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) became the news as the miles ticked off.

With 40km to race, the gap was back up to 4’10” until Voigt attacked at the bottom of the category-two Lee Hill climb, taking team-mate Bennett with him. The move by the big German was meant to set up the young Kiwi, who then went away alone up the Lee Hill grade. With 25km left, the break was split, and the peloton still hung back at 3’40”.

The Colombian Colorado had emerged from the escape and eventually chased Bennett down on the descent off of Lee Hill. In the main bunch, Van Garderen was running out of team-mates and Garmin-Sharp led over the top of the climb. Off the descent, nine men were back together to reform the escape, but with a smaller gap of just over two minutes on the yellow jersey group. Voigt chased down a dig by Oyola, and then did the pace-making that brought back a more serious acceleration from Bertogliati. As Flagstaff Hill bit in, the peloton was two minutes behind the increasingly serious break.

To the delight of the Colorado crowds, Voigt went solo again, with a second stage win becoming a distinct possibility. The raucous fans on both sides of the road implored Voigt to dig deeper, but Sutherland would have the better legs on the day.

He made quick work of pulling himself up to the Radioshack-Nissan rider before quickly dropping him, setting off on a quick tempo up the remaining five kilometres. Behind, EPM-UNE was pushing in the yellow jersey group, and though neither Vande Velde nor Van Garderen initially showed any signs of weakness, neither attempted to pressure the other.

The first move came from Dombrowski, who briefly got a gap before Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) took his turn. Leipheimer’s acceleration pulled back the Italian and went unmarked, with the remaining five or six in the lead group on their limit.

Van Garderen slipped slowly off the back as Garmin tried to keep Leipheimer close in the final kilometres. Van Garderen would end up conceding 29 seconds to Leipheimer and 12 to Vande Velde, setting up an all-American showdown in the time trial on Sunday.

Riders face a 15.3km test, which should be settled among the current top three on GC. Though Andreas Klöden has ridden well and sits 26 seconds in arrears in sixth, while Astana’s Janez Brajkovic lurks in eighth. The Slovenian is looking for 41 seconds on Leipheimer.

USA Pro Challenge Stage Six Brief Results:

1, Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) in 4h06’12”
2, Fabio Aru (Astana) at 20s
3, Jens Voigt (Radioshack-Nissan) at 26s
4, Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) at 45s
5, Tim Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale) at 52s
6, Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) at 1’02”
7, Joe Dombrowski (Bontrager-Livestrong) at 1’02”
8, Andreas Kloden (Radioshack-Nissan) at 1’02”
9, Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) at 1’02”
10, Ramiro Rincon (EPM-UNE) at 1’02”

General Classification after stage six:

1, Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
2, Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) at 9s
3, Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) at 21s
4, Joe Dombrowski (Bontrager-Livestrong) at 21s
5, Ramiro Rincon (EPM-UNE) at 22s
6, Andreas Kloden (Radioshack-Nissan) at 26s
7, Peter Stetina (Garmin-Sharp) at 38s
8, Janez Brajkovic (Astana) at 41s
9, Ivan Rovny (RusVelo) at 41s
10, Damiano Caruso (Liquigas-Cannondale) at 52s


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