Sagan dashes to another victory in USA Pro Challenge stage three
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sagan dashes to another victory in USA Pro Challenge stage three

by Kyle Moore at 9:50 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
Points jersey adds more to his total as Morton retains yellow

Peter SaganPeter Sagan (Cannondale) was again unquestionably the fastest man in the USA Pro Challenge, getting stage three in an easy sprint over Luca Mezgec (Argos-Shimano). It’s not the first time the Slovak has made a sprint look easy in an American stage race, having most recently won the first stage into Aspen.

Sagan was the best this time into Steamboat Springs, after a 172km jaunt beginning in Breckenridge. He had little trouble with Rabbit Ears Pass, cresting with 33 kilometres left in the stage.

Cannondale burned most of its matches bringing back Jens Voigt (Radioshack-Leopard), who got away from his original breakaway and rode solo to the 2km banner. Working without much of a lead out, Sagan briefly found the wheel of Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) before darting away. After getting a long pull from Patrick Gretsch (Argos-Shimano), Mezgec put up the best fight, but was unable to come from behind on the Slovak.

Ryan Anderson (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) was third, and Van Avermaet came in fourth.

“I’m very happy about it and I want to thank all my teammates because they did great work,” said Sagan afterwards. “I want to say sorry to Jens because he was at the front, but when he dropped all the riders from the breakaway there was only one way to win the stage.”

Sagan has shown that he is climbing very well in the race, and had no issues on the stage. He said that while he knew there was a tough parcours, he wasn’t worried. “I heard that there were a lot of climbs here from other riders and my teammates. There’s plenty of climbs but, I think it’s okay for me. For now I feel good and I think I can do well on these climbs,” he said.

However with tougher stages coming up, he also accepts his limits. “I don’t know. I guess we’ll see tomorrow,” he said about the much tougher stage four. “I feel good, but like I’ve said before I’m not here for the General Classification.”

How it played out:

The stage began with bad news for Sky Procycling, as Joe Dombrowski was forced to abandon after struggling with nosebleeds in the altitude. The young American had finished stage two with gauze in his nose.

The stage began downhill, so the first man to attack, Ben King (Radioshack-Leopard), found it difficult to get away. Jamis-Hagens Berman controlled early with a KOM climb coming just 11km in, and jersey wearer Matt Cooke hoping to defend. He was second over the top, after Davide Villela (Cannondale) attacked over the top. The riders who surged over the top of the climb kept it going on the way down, forming the breakaway of the day.

Cooke chose to remain in the peloton, but the stagiaire Villella, Voigt, Josh Edmondson (Sky Procycling), Tyler Wren (Jamis-Hagens Berman) and Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly-Kenda) quickly went out to over two minutes. With under 100km to race and passing through the feed zone, the escape’s advantage hovered around 3’30”.

Status quo held in the valley riding toward Rabbit Ears Pass, until Voigt got antsy, relatively early even by his standards. With close to 50km to go, the German attacked on his own. Tvetcov hauled the group back to him, but Voigt simply rode away again, and this time, his chasers decided to pack it in.

On the Rabbit Ears climb with 40km to go, Voigt had 2’10 between he and the rest of the chasers, and still around four minutes on the rest. The rest of the escapees were still together, until Edmonson attacked them and set off after Voigt. Meanwhile, Cannondale got their chase underway in earnest, with Ted King and Juraj Sagan at the head of affairs.

Voigt crested the climb with still two minutes of the escape, and 3’30” on the peloton. Four men were still away when the peloton hit the top, and Cooke came out to mop up a few points.

In the main bunch, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies and Argos-Shimano were also doing heavy work for their sprinters. Voigt continued to lose ground on the descent, but the final flat road leading into Steamboat Springs really began to do in the German.

Inside ten kilometres to go, Voigt still held 1’20”. BMC began chipping in for Van Avermaet, but no team had total control, and the tenacity of Voigt allowed him to hang off the front until there were three kilometres left to race.

About the time of the catch, a hard crash took down close to ten riders, with Mike “Meatball” Friedman (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) especially shaken up. Twitter reactions after the stage made it sound as if patrons were extending too far into the roads, leading to the accident.

The majority of the sprinters were unaffected at the head of the field though, and Gretsch took his pull, followed by Michael Schär (BMC Racing). Van Avermaet went first but lacked punch, and then Anderson started his sprint.

But Sagan came off Van Avermaet’s wheel and made quick work of Anderson. Mezgec tried to come up from behind, but ran out of room, as Sagan removed his glasses and flashed the Colorado crowd a winning smile.

Lachlan Morton (Garmin-Sharp) finished in the bunch, and kept the leader’s jersey.

USA Pro Challenge Stage 3 Brief Results:

1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling
2 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team Argos-Shimano
3 Ryan Anderson (Can) Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
4 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
5 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
6 Edwin Alcibiades Avila Vanegas (Col) Colombia
7 Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Novo Nordisk
8 Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard
9 Tanner Putt (USA) Bontrager
10 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling

General Classification after Stage 3:

1 Lachlan David Morton (Aus) Garmin-Sharp in 11hr35’40”
2 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team at 2”
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling at 11”
4 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
5 Lawson Craddock (USA) Bontrager Cycling Team at 18”
6 Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Sharp at 29”
7 Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) Colombia at 35”
8 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling at 41”
9 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
10 Tony Gallopin (Fra) RadioShack Leopard


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