Elia Viviani Sprints To Take Stage 4 of the USA Pro Challenge

viviani_usa pro_stage 4

Colorado Springs, Colo. (Aug. 21, 2014) – In a circuit race through Colorado Springs that included everything from flat sprints through the city streets to challenging climbs in picturesque Garden of the Gods, Elia Viviani (ITA) of Cannondale Pro Cycling emerged victorious in Stage 4 of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge after catching Jens Voigt (GER) of Trek Factory Racing following a solo breakaway. Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team held onto the overall lead and has a 20-second advantage leading into the fifth day of racing tomorrow.

“Today worked out better than we could have imagined,” said van Garderen. “With such a short stage, we thought there could be attacks all day. Thankfully we were able to keep it controlled.”

A third year host city, Colorado Springs featured a challenging 70-mile circuit race today that included four Sierra Nevada KOM competitions and three Lexus sprint lines. After a ceremonial start at the world-famous Broadmoor, the race headed into town and joined up with a 16-mile circuit that would be raced four times. In addition to some flat sections, the stage featured climbs through Garden of the Gods, Mesa Rd. and the infamous Ridge Rd., which hits grades of nearly 17 percent.

“Colorado Springs always has huge crowds that are some of the most enthusiastic we see during the Pro Challenge,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the Pro Challenge. “There were so many great vantage points along the route today, from Garden of the Gods to the finish, and the fans really took advantage of that. We only have three more days of racing and this is still anyone’s race. The riders have really been showing they are here to win and it’s going to be exciting to watch these final days unfold.”

“The crowds were absolutely incredible,” added van Garderen. “Every year the crowds rival any race we do, including the Tour de France. It’s hard to beat crowds like this anywhere.”

Almost immediately after they started racing, 11 riders broke away in an attack that would last for quite a while. The group included Voigt and Laurent Didier (LUX)of Trek Factory Racing, Gregor Mühlberger (AUT) of Team NetApp-Endura, Adam Phelan (AUS) of Drapac Professional Cycling, Danny Summerhill (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, Martijn Verschoor (NED) of Team Novo-Nordisk, Rob Britton (CAN) of Team SmartStop, Oscar Clark (USA) and Tims Skujins (LAT) of Hincapie Sportswear Development Team, Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) of Jamis-Hagens Berman, Steve Fisher (USA) of Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis and Ruben Zepuntke (GER) of Bissell Development Team.

At just more than 10 miles into the race, the riders in the break, traveling 38 mph, had already gained three minutes and 10 seconds over the field. Approaching the first of three KOM competitions in the stage at Garden of the Gods, a picturesque national landmark, Jacques-Maynes hit the top first, followed by Voigt and Summerhill. Traveling at 40 mph, the gap increased to four minutes.

Heading into the second lap and just 5K away from the second KOM of the day at Garden of the Gods, Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies took the lead on the chase and cut the gap down to three and a half minutes. At the first Lexus Sprint Line of the day, Summerhill sped off to cross the line first, followed by Zepuntke and Britton.

With UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team and Team Garmin-Sharp taking the lead on the chase, the gap continued to drop leading into the second KOM of the day. Jacques-Maynes pushed it to hit the top first and build a lead in the KOM jersey competition. He was followed by Voigt and Summerhill.

Halfway into the stage and approaching the second and final sprint line of the day, Summerhill took max points, building a lead in the sprint jersey competition. He was followed by Skujins and Zepuntke.

With 40K to go approaching the third KOM of the day, Voigt launched an attack and took Jacques-Maynes with him. At the top of the climb Jacques-Maynes kicked into gear and crossed the line first, but then fell back to the chase group. Voigt reached the top second and later, from the group behind, Summerhill third. Simultaneously Didier and Verschoor fell off the back of the break and Verschoor would eventually fall of the chase as well and was reabsorbed.

With about 30K left in the race, Voigt had opened up a one minute gap on his chasers and almost three minutes on the field. As the riders crossed the line to head into the final circuit lap of the race, the chase and the field started to come together to go after Voigt. As he crossed the summit of the last KOM, Voigt had about one minute and 20 seconds on his chasers. When the group reached the top, Lucas Euser (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team crossed the line second and Peter Stetina (USA) of BMC Racing Team in third.

With teams of sprinters chasing him behind, Voigt’s gap started to whittle away in the last 15K to the finish. The rest of the Trek Factory Racing Team was doing all they could on the front of the field to break up other team’s attempts to organize a chase and help their leader to a stage win in the final race of his career, but unfortunately, at 5K to go, the gap had been cut to only 35 seconds. With the Cannondale Pro Cycling, Hincapie Sportswear Development Team and Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies teams pushing the pace on the front of the chase, it would come down to the final stretch of the race to determine the stage winner.

In the end, Voigt’s effort wouldn’t be enough to pull out the win and he was caught with only 1K to go.

“We put it all on the line today. We hoped for the best and there are no regrets about it,” said Voigt. “I did my best and I don’t think I could have done better. I took as much risk as I would have dared to take and I was all in today. I would like a stage win here, but no one is going to give it to me. There is no such thing in cycling.”

In a final sprint to the finish Viviani charged across the line to take first, followed by Martin Kohler (SUI) of BMC Racing Team. Taking third in the stage for the second day in a row was Serghei Tvetcov (ROM) of Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis.

“It was a huge win today. It was perfect for me,” said Vivianni. “My perfect sprint is 200 meters and when I saw the 200 meter mark, I went with maximum power. I had a great and beautiful experience in 2011 and now I’ve come back three years later and it’s still such a beautiful place. I like to race here so much, but it’s really difficult.”

Jacques-Maynes took over the Sierra Nevada King of the Mountains Jersey today. Voigt was awarded the FirstBank Most Aggressive Rider Jersey for his impressive solo breakaway. With the rest of the jerseys remaining unchanged, van Garderen kept the Smashburger Leader Jersey and the Colorado National Guard Best Colorado Rider Jersey. Kiel Reijnen (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team held onto the Lexus Sprint Jersey as did Clement Chevrier (FRA) of Bissell Development Team to the Colorado State University Best Young Rider Jersey.

STAGE 5 TOMORROW:
Friday, Aug. 22 – Woodland Park to Breckenridge (173 km/107.5 mi)
Start Time: 11:20 a.m. MT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:45 p.m. MT
Satellite Feed Time: 4:45-5 p.m. MT (6:45-7 p.m. ET)

The 2014 USA Pro Challenge does not let up with Stage 5. This stage’s serene first 80 miles hide a vicious finish and a last chance for climbing specialists to really make a move. Starting in the new host community of Woodland Park, Stage 5 heads west then north through some of the most picturesque terrain in Colorado. The route takes the riders on a quiet run through the Pike National Forest on Tarryall Rd., which was unpaved until just last year and the riders will christen it properly with high speeds and lots of breakaway attempts. The action really starts when the race hits Fairplay and begins the long grind up 11,500 ft. Hoosier Pass, the highest point in the race. Then it is on to Breckenridge, where last year’s challenging finish up Moonstone Rd. will be repeated again. This nasty little climb can kill a break or launch a winner.

Quotes from 2014 USA Pro Challenge Stage 4 Press Conference
RIDER QUOTES
Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team

On Stage 4 Results
“It worked out better than we could have imagined. With such a short stage, we thought there could be attacks all day. We were going through all the worst-case scenarios. Thankfully we were able to keep it controlled.”

On the Crowds in Colorado Springs
“The crowds were absolutely incredible. Every year the crowds rival any race we do, including the Tour de France. It’s hard to beat crowds like this anywhere.”

Discussing the Outlook for the Remainder of the 2014 Pro Challenge
“The confidence is high, but there is nothing set in stone. Today, we were going through all the worst-case scenarios and we avoided them, but you just have to be careful and stay attentive and hope you don’t have a bad day. The race isn’t over until Denver.”

Discussing Attitude in Colorado Springs
“It was a bit easier to breathe today. I actually thought that made it a bit more challenging because it felt like all the riders responded better and they could ride better. In a strange way, it just made it more difficult for me today.”

Jens Voigt (GER) Trek Factory Racing
Discussing his Performance during Stage 4
“We put it all on the line today. We hoped for the best and there are no regrets about it. I did my best and I don’t think I could have done better. I took as much risk as I would have dared to take and I was all in today.”

On Not Taking Home the Stage 4 Win
“I mean, I would like a stage win here, but no one is going to give it to me. There is no such thing in cycling. It’s a tough sport and I’m sure there was pressure on Cannondale to win something. I tried to win the stage in the fashion I could. They did their thing and that’s just how it is in life. It just ended better for them today.”

On Strategy for Stage 5 of the 2014 Pro Challenge
“I think tomorrow I’m going to take a day off so to speak and try to recover and save some energy. The Denver stage does have a climb, but it is pretty early on. Tomorrow I’ll take it easy and try for the Time Trial in Vail. Maybe I can place well there, but we’ll see.”

On Giving His Fans One Last Show at the Pro Challenge
“Despite the fact I was hurting, I was giving it my all. I saw all the signs, ‘Farewell Jens,’ ‘Shut up Legs,’ it felt like my home crowd here. I wanted it like that and needed it like that one last time this week. I felt obliged to entertain my fans one more time in the fashion they would expect. It was a good day and I was really happy about that.”

Discussing his Bittersweet Retirement from Pro Cycling
“It was a little emotional on the podium. I think I had more applause than the yellow jersey. It was the closest to crying since the birth of my first child nineteen years ago. It was a beautiful and emotional moment for me. With so many great riders out there, I felt like I accomplished my last race, even if I didn’t win it. I was a force to reckon with.”

On Mentoring Hhs Fellow Pro Cyclists
“Hopefully I’ve shown them you just need some self-belief and that you need to take destiny into your hands instead of waiting for it. You have to go out and force it. You need to go out and take life and shape your life and destiny the way you need it. I hope I can pass that message along.”

Discussing the Future of German Cycling
“Fortunately we have a bunch of great German kids coming up. I believe German cycling is in good condition and in the hands of good people. I have a new generation taking over and it’s all going the right way.”

Stage 4 Results
First – Elia Viviani (ITA) of Cannondale Pro Cycling
Second – Martin Kohler (SUI) of BMC Racing Team
· Third – Serghei Tvetcov (ROM) of Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis

GC Standings
First – Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team
Second – Rafa? Majka (POL) of Tinkoff-Saxo
Third – Ben Hermans (BEL) of BMC Racing Team

Jersey Winners
· Smashburger Leader Jersey – Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team
· Lexus Sprint Jersey – Kiel Reijnen (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
· Sierra Nevada King of the Mountains Jersey – Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) of Jamis-Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home
· Colorado State University Best Young Rider Jersey – Clement Chevrier (FRA) of Bissell Development Team
· FirstBank Most Aggressive Rider Jersey – Jens Voigt (GER) of Trek Factory Racing
· Colorado National Guard Best Colorado Rider Jersey – Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team

Photos: Corvos

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