USA Pro Challenge: Sagan gets a hat-trick into Fort Collins
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Saturday, August 24, 2013

USA Pro Challenge: Sagan gets a hat-trick into Fort Collins

by Kyle Moore at 6:02 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
van Garderen has uneventful day in yellow with one stage to go

Peter SaganPeter Sagan (Cannondale) was his usual calm, cool, and collected self as he weathered a couple minor storms inside the final kilometre and then sprinted to his third stage victory of the 2013 USA Pro Challenge in Fort Collins on stage six. Sagan was once again quicker than Luca Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), the three most synonymous names with sprinting in Colorado this year.

The Slovak sensation benefitted from more solid work from his Cannondale team-mates, who had 50 kilometres of lumpy ground and a host of aggressive riders to handle in the finale to stage six. Cannondale countered each move, concluding with a dangerous attempt by Rory Sutherland (Saxo-Tinkoff) inside the final 500 metres.

The Aussie, a mountain stage winner last year, was reeled back inside 100 metres to go, as Sagan left himself plenty of room to come around for the victory.

Mezgec again showed a solid flash of speed, but was behind the Slovak when the sprint came, and then was unable to come around.

Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) maintains his overall lead with one stage left.

Sagan was very satisfied to clock up his third stage. He also admitted that he wasn’t expecting to have done as well as he has.

“I am surprised a little bit. I came here to be in this race to prepare for the World Championships and now, I’ve won three stages already. I’m very surprised,” he said.

“Today I’d like to thank all my teammates; they did great work all day, especially in the front for the breakaway. All the riders from my team did their best. I’m very happy to have won this stage. At the beginning of this race, my teammate crashed and he’s still in the hospital, today was for him.”

With a circuit race concluding the race, he believes that he has a chance of a fourth victory. “Tomorrow is not too long of a ride. It’s only 116 kilometres, so I’m confident. We’ll see how my teammates do, but we’ll definitely try for tomorrow,” he said.

How it played out:

Nearly 30 flat kilometres were gone before parts of the day’s main break made their gap. The first to go were Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff), Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp), Richie Porte (Sky Procycling), Martijn Verschoor (Novo-Nordisk), Antoine Duchesne (Bontrager), Luis Romero Amaran (Jamis-Hagens Berman), and Alex Hagman (Jelly Belly-Kenda). They were joined by a larger chase group, but the peloton eventually brought it all back and the situation was reset.

Rogers got the next round of attacking underway, showing off his most courageous rider jersey from stage four, and this time took along team-mate Timmy Duggan, Josh Edmondson (Sky Procycling), Javier Megias (Novo-Nordisk), and Jesse Anthony (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies). Fabio Duarte (Colombia) eventually came across, as did another group, bringing the escape up to 15. Added in were Thomas Dekker (Garmin-Sharp), Tiago Machado (Radioshack-Leopard), Bruno Pires (Saxo-Tinkoff), Simon Geschke (Argos-Shimano), Chris Jones and Jeff Louder (UnitedHealthcare), and Pat McCarty and Kirk Carlsen (Bissell).

With a big group, even though Machado was the best placed at more than six minutes back, the escapees were kept close. The gradual drag up to Devil’s Gulch was the day’s featured climb, ranked a category-two, and cresting near the middle of the 185km stage.

Over the top of the climb and through the plateau in Estes Park, the gap hovered around two minutes. Geschke led over the top, but it was no matter for king of the mountains leader Matt Cooke (Jamis-Hagens Berman), who cannot be caught in the competition, as long as he finishes on Sunday.

Action from some top GC men out of the peloton, plus sprint classification leader Sagan cut the gap to the breakaway to around a minute. Cannondale led the charge on the 40km descent away from Devil’s Gulch. With 50 rolling kilometres left to get to Fort Collins, the break was still less than two minutes up the road.

On some of the lumps leading into town, the breakaway began to battle amongst themselves. With 30km left, Machado and Carlsen rode away, with Geschke and Duarte coming across. The veteran Argos-Shimano rider decided he wanted to be on his own. Machado was put behind, but Geschke was joined by Dekker, Edmondson, Rogers, and Megias. The next lump put Geschke in trouble, as Rogers pushed on with the three others behind him.

Previous breakaway members were being picked up, in McCarty, Duggan, and eventually Geschke. Behind, Machado and Pires formed a two-man chase group, as the peloton brought the leaders back to within a minute with 15km left.

With the pace heating up, a crash caught up Duarte, Tom Zirbel (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Andy Schleck (Radioshack-Leopard). With 11km to go, Sagan shadowed a move by Van Avermaet, along with a Radioshack rider.

With Sagan frustrating any possible escape inside the final ten kilometres, the racing slowed down, but the escape continued to be reeled in. The quartet was caught inside five kilometres to go, and Argos-Shimano led to the 3km point, hoping to set up Mezgec.

Saxo-Tinkoff were the supreme aggressors in the finale, sending several solo moves up the road that Cannondale had to chase down. A Colombia rider got the best gap but was pulled back at the one kilometre kite. Sutherland made his move and threatened to hold it, as finish cameras elongated the amount of road the sprinters had to cover on the final straight.

Sutherland unleashed the sprint he had left but Sagan had him timed, as he easily took Van Avermaet and Mezgec on the line.

USA Pro Challenge Stage 6 Brief Results:

1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling
2 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team Argos-Shimano
3 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
4 Edwin Avila (Col) Colombia
5 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare
6 Andrea Peron (Ita) Novo Nordisk
7 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
8 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Kenda
9 Michael Olsson (Swe) Argos-Shimano
10 Joonas Henttala (Fin) Novo Nordisk

General Classification after Stage 6:

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
6 Gregory Brenes Obando (CRc) Champion System Pro Cycling Team 0:03:25
7 Lawson Craddock (USA) Bontrager Cycling Team 0:03:42
8 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:04:11
9 Philip Deignan (Irl) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 0:04:12
10 Carter Jones (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling 0:04:13


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