Fans Lined the Mountain Roads to Cheer van Garderen to Victory Under Sunny Colorado Skies
Monarch Mountain, Colo. (Aug. 20, 2014) – In a race fit for royals, Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team proved he is King of the Mountains during the Queen Stage of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge on Monarch Mountain, in the race’s first-ever mountaintop finish. Taking the stage win and the overall lead, in addition to the Lexus Sprint Jersey and the Colorado National Guard Best Colorado Rider Jersey, van Garderen dominated Stage 3 of the race.
“I love this race. Every year I’ve done the Pro Challenge, I’ve taken away something from it,” said van Garderen. “I look forward to this race every year. And unless the Pro Challenge finished higher than this before, this is definitely the highest elevation I have ever finished at.”
During Stage 3 of the race today the riders were not only faced with a mountaintop finish, but they also had to pass over it first, giving spectators a chance to see the race multiple times from the same vantage point. Starting in Gunnison, the race went east for 35 miles before tackling the 11,300 ft. monster that is Monarch Pass. The riders then descended the eastern slope of the pass and completed two 9-mile loops through Salida and the surrounding countryside. Then they tackled nearly 20 miles of climbing to the finish at 10,800 ft.-Monarch Mountain Ski Area.
“Today’s stage was everything we could have hoped for – the fans were incredible, the weather was beautiful, and the racing was intense and exciting to watch,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the Pro Challenge. “This is the first year we have taken the Pro Challenge to Monarch Mountain and our first true mountaintop finish. As the race continues to grow and evolve each year, we hope to bring more exciting days of racing like today to our fans around the world.”
After a 6.9-mile neutral start out of town, the riders didn’t waste any time and immediately started launching attacks, traveling at 32 mph. With a lot of activity on the front, none of the breaks were able to stick and everyone was still riding together at 35K into the race.
At 50K, five riders, including Michael Koch (GER) of Cannondale Pro Cycling, Jeff Louder (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) of Jamis-Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home, Jacob Rathe (USA) of Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis and Bernie Sulzberger (AUS) of Drapac Pro Cycling, broke away and gained a slight advantage, but then were reeled back in as they headed into the first Sierra Nevada KOM of the day at Monarch Pass.
A Cat. 1 climb at 11,312 ft. with a 2,743 ft. elevation gain, Monarch Pass would prove to be a test for the riders, splitting the field into several different groups. Janier Acevedo (COL) of Team Garmin-Sharp put his climbing skills on display by pulling ahead and, with his team setting a tough pace in the group just behind, the break was cut down to just eight riders. Included in this group were Tejay van Garderen (USA) and Ben Hermans (BEL) of BMC Racing Team; Rafa? Majka (POL), Michael Rogers (AUS) and Pawe? Polja?ski (POL) of Tinkoff-Saxo; Tom Danielson (USA) and Acevedo; and Carter Jones (USA) of Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies.
Lined with fans, the climb up Monarch Pass destroyed the field and broke the riders up into several small groups. Reaching the top of the climb first was Hermans, followed by Danielson and Polja?ski. With about a 50-second advantage, the break screamed down the back side of the climb, past the stage finish and on to Salida where they would complete two laps before heading back toward the finish.
With the first Lexus Sprint Line in Salida fast approaching, Acevedo hit the line first, followed by Polja?ski and Hermans. Soon after, Rogers broke off, as the rest of the break was absorbed back into the chase.
As they continued on through the town, several attacks were made out of the chase, but didn’t stick. Then, just as Rogers hit the second sprint line of the day, taking max points, Lucas Euser (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team and Daniel Jaramillo (COL) of Jamis-Hagens Berman managed to escape and start the chase. Euser crossed the line second and Jaramillo third.
As the riders left the town of Salida, Rogers maintained a 1:10 lead over the first chase group with Euser and Jaramillo, and 20 seconds behind them was the second chase group, which included GC leader Alex Howes (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp. With only 16.5 miles to go, the chasers were reabsorbed, tightening up the race.
With 25K of uphill course left to go, the riders approached the second KOM of the day, a Cat. 2 climb on Monarch Mountain with an average grade of 3 percent, but a grade of 9 percent at its steepest point. With a strong headwind on the course, the riders started to make their way up the climb.
At 8K to go the attacks began and, as the tempo picked up, riders began to fall off the back. With about 14 riders left in the front group, Danielson tried to push the pace to get time on van Garderen. Finally Matthew Busche (USA) of Trek Factory Racing launched an attack and put a gap between him and the group, but alas, that wouldn’t stick either. With 1K left in the race, van Garderen hit the gas and attacked, a move which would take him all the way to the finish line. Under beautiful skies and a picturesque backdrop at the Monarch Mountain Ski Resort, van Garderen crossed the line first, followed by Majka and Serghei Tvetcov (ROM) of Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis.
“I felt pretty well under control today,” added van Garderen. “The team rode incredibly again today. I’m glad I was able to take the jersey.”
Van Garderen now holds three jerseys, including the Smashburger Leader Jersey, Sierra Nevada King of the Mountains Jersey and the Colorado National Guard Best Colorado Rider Jersey. Rogers was awarded the FirstBank Most Aggressive Rider Jersey for his riding in the breakaway. The other jerseys remained unchanged, with Kiel Reijnen (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team holding onto the Lexus Sprint Jersey and Clément Chevrier (FRA) of Bissell Development Team maintaining the Colorado State University Best Young Rider Jersey.
Stage 3 Results
First – Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team
· Second – Rafa? Majka (POL) of Tinkoff-Saxo
· Third – Serghei Tvetcov (ROM) of Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
First – Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team
Second – Rafa? Majka (POL) of Tinkoff-Saxo
Third – Ben Hermans (BEL) of BMC Racing Team
· 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 – Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team
· Colorado State University Best Young Rider Jersey – Clement Chevrier (FRA) of Bissell Development Team
· FirstBank Most Aggressive Rider Jersey – Michael Rogers (AUS) of Tinkoff-Saxo
· Colorado National Guard Best Colorado Rider Jersey – Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team
STAGE 4 TOMORROW:
Thursday, Aug. 21 – Colorado Springs Circuit Race (119.1 km/74 mi)
Start Time: 12:50 p.m. MT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:47 p.m. MT
Satellite Feed Time: 4:45-5 p.m. MT (6:45-7 p.m. ET)
Colorado Springs keeps reinventing itself as a host city. In 2011 it hosted a prologue, in 2012 it was a fast road stage finish for sprinters and for 2014 it will be a challenging circuit that could contain a surprise general classification shake up. After a ceremonial start at the world famous Broadmoor, the race will head into town and join up with a 16-mile circuit that will be raced four times. With climbs through Garden of the Gods, Mesa Rd. and the infamous Ridge Rd., which hits grades of nearly 17 percent, the route will present some challenges for the riders. If a sprinter hangs on to win, they will have earned it the hard way.
Important road closure info: Traffic stops on U.S. 24 at 21st Street; full closure of U.S. 24 Business Route (Colorado Avenue) between 29th and Tejon streets. Closure of Interstate 25 off-ramps at Bijou – Exit 142. Impacts begin at 11:50 a.m. and end by approximately 4 p.m.
Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
On the Mountaintop Finish
“Unless the Pro Challenge finished higher than this before, this is definitely the highest elevation I have ever finished at.”
On Altitude Acclimation and Preparation
“I’ve been in Aspen for about two weeks. I came directly from the Tour de France and went straight to Aspen and used a couple of the days to scout out yesterday’s stage along with today’s around Salida. I kind of knew what was up here. The two weeks at altitude really makes a huge difference in acclimating.”
On the Competition
“Danielson was the biggest one and after that was Majka. Danielson was the biggest concern for us, but now I think we’re going to have to watch Majka the most.”
On Potential Rivalry with Majka
“I was never in any direct battle with Majka at the Tour. He’s a good guy and always joking with a smile on his face and he was the first to congratulate me after the finish today. He’s pretty young, too. He has a great future and he’s done so much already. I have huge respect for him.”
On Overall Performance in Stage 3
“I felt pretty well under control. The team rode incredibly again today and I mean it was a little bit confusing out there because Garmin had the jersey but they didn’t want to control it, they wanted to keep jumping and ride aggressively, which made it a confusing tactic. To simplify it, we just put our team in the front to neutralize that. I’m glad I was able to take the jersey.”
On Racing against Tom Danielson
“The thing is, and no disrespect to him at all, but I think Danielson got a little nervous out there. He wanted to attack on his own, but it never seemed like he wanted to commit to it. I was at the wheel and he kind of just stayed there. At the same time, he didn’t want anyone else to get up front. I could sense he was nervous, so I just sat behind him while he wore himself out. All it took was one solid move.”
On Defending the Jersey
“The yellow jersey team didn’t want to defend it. Yesterday, UnitedHealthcare had a tactic to neutralize the breakaway for the two sprint bonuses to get Kiel in the green jersey, and then they said we’re not racing for GC, so it was up to us to be the defending champions. If you have a strong team interested in defending the jersey, it’s easier to get the breakaway to go, if no one wants to defend it, it just makes it a bit harder.”
On the Colorado Springs Circuit
“When I look at it on paper, I see Garden of the Gods and 17 percent grade four times, so it’s not very easy. I’m confident and I think we have the strongest team here. We still have Ben in third for the GC. He’s a big engine and we’ve kept fresh this whole time, but the rest of the team is up for the challenge.”
On the Headwind during Stage 3
“There was a headwind out there, so it makes it easier to follow, but if you can jump and get the gap, it also makes it harder to close the gap. If you’re just going to find a tempo, it’s easier to do with a tailwind.”
On Garmin’s Strategy
“They were really aggressive today and were even aggressive on day one. I think they’re going to keep being aggressive. The best part is that Garmin’s playbook is pretty easy to read. I remember in 2012, they had four GC guys and they would use all of them. It was really hard to keep them under control. Now it looks like Danielson is their only guy and I think Howe’s might be two minutes down. I think he’ll probably be aggressive, but it’s not that much of a concern because now we only have to watch one guy.”
On Stage 2 Yesterday
“We wanted the stage win yesterday and I’m not too disappointed. It was an amazing ride by Carpenter and it was unfortunate what happened, but at the end of the day, I can’t be too disappointed. I wasn’t out for revenge or anything; we were just out to do our best.”
On Reading Tommy Danielson’s Strategy
“It was really just the feel of the race and assessing the attacks from Danielson, looking at his body language. His attacks at first were really strong and they got a bit weaker toward the top of the climb, so I figured he was getting tired.”