BMC Racing Team’s Tejay van Garderen won an uphill sprint to the finish against Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) Tuesday to score his first victory of the season and take the lead of the USA Pro Challenge.
Going For The Win
Van Garderen said he initially wasn’t aiming to win the 159.6-kilometer race. “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) and Stage 6 to Boulder would be the decisive ones. So I thought I’d hit out early and give it a shot.” Van Garderen’s victory was his first since winning the Stage 3 individual time trial at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah last year on his birthday (Aug. 12). His highlights this season include finishing fifth at the Tour de France – while winning the best young rider classification – and a runner-up finish at the U.S. national time trial championships.
The nine-rider breakaway that the BMC Racing Team worked hard to chase down actually included van Garderen’s teammate, Mathias Frank, who appeared to be on his own way to winning the race with two kilometers to go. Frank passed Camilo Castiblanco (EPM-Une), who was first to attack with three kilometers left. But the final kilometer was a flurry of action, with Castiblanco’s teammate, Ramiro Rincon, and RusVelo’s Ivan Rovny taking the lead, only to be passed back by Frank and Garmin-Sharp’s Alex Howes, who was also in the breakaway. But all of them saw their chances dashed when van Garderen – with Vande Velde in tow – roared by inside the final 500 meters. Frank finished 29th, 33 seconds back, while teammate Johann Tschopp, recent winner of the Tour of Utah, placed 10th and stands 12th overall, 12 seconds behind van Garderen.
Strong Team To Defend
BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Michael Sayers said it won’t be an easy task for van Garderen to hold the lead all the way to Sunday’s finish in Denver. “It’s going to take a little bit of luck and the team staying together, and riding as the best unit as we can,” he said. “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.” Van Garderen also led the USA Pro Challenge last year after the Stage 2 finish (in Aspen), but surrendered it the next day. This year, the Boulder, Colo., resident said he has a strong team to help him defend. “Christian is still on the same time as me, so it’s a super close race,” he said. “We need to make sure that Garmin is not too aggressive in the breaks. But we have a strong team and I’m confident.”
· First Place – Tejay Van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team
· Second Place – Christian Vandevelde (USA) Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda
· Third Place – Ivan Rovny (RUS) of RusVelo
· Exergy Leader Jersey – Tejay Van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team
· Waste Management Sprint Jersey – Tyler Farrar (USA) of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda
· Nissan King of the Mountains Jersey – Tom Danielson (USA) of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda
· Aquadraat Best Young Rider Jersey – Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) of Bontrager Livestrong Team
· Evolve Most Aggressive Rider Jersey – Rafael Infantino Abreu (COL) of EPM-UNE