Vail, Colo. (Aug. 23, 2014) – In the race of truth, Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team emerged victorious, finishing in 24 minutes and 26 seconds, winning the stage and shattering his previous course record of 25 minutes and two seconds. After the 2014 USA Pro Challenge Stage 6 individual time trial, van Garderen extended his overall lead to one minute and 32 seconds heading into the final day of racing.
“This is my third time trial in Vail,” said van Garderen. “The first time I did it, it couldn’t have been worse. I went way too hard and lost the yellow jersey. Last year, I can’t say it was bad, but you could see I was really struggling on TV and barely holding on. This year, I felt powerful the whole time and tried to stay conscious the first half. It’s just about judging the altitude on this course.”
The USA Pro Challenge individual time trial course’s roots are in Colorado racing lore and trace back to the Coors Classic. The race against the clock started in Vail and climbed most of the way up Vail Pass, which was a challenging ride, even for the best riders on earth. With rain on and off throughout the day, the gentle grades of the first half of the course gave way to a steady climb for the last three miles. It took more than legs on this strategic course though. If they went too hard early the climb could destroy any chances of winning, but if they conserved too much for the climb, then the leaderboard may have been out of reach.
“The route that we utilize for the Individual Time Trial in Vail is an iconic part of cycling history,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the Pro Challenge. “This stage is challenging for the riders and provides excellent viewing locations for our fans…it’s perfect. We had some weather today, but everyone toughed it out and it was a great day of racing.”
Last year, van Garderen rode the 10-mile course in 25 minutes and two seconds, which was 46 seconds faster than the last course record set in 2011. The first rider went off at 1:05 p.m. and they would continue at one-minute intervals until the final 20 riders, who went off two minutes apart.
At 10 miles long, the route was an uphill battle that, combined with wet conditions and elevation, proved to be challenging for the riders. Early in the race Rick Zabel (GER) of BMC Racing Team set a fast intermediate split time of 13 minutes and 57 seconds, but his finish time would be bested by Leopold Konig (CZE) of Team NetApp-Endura who had the best time at 27 minutes and 40 seconds. Kirk Carlsen (USA) of Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis would move into second with his finish time, just three seconds behind Konig.
Michael Rogers (AUS) of Tinkoff-Saxo, a time trial specialist, took the course and charged it at about 27 mph to secure a split time 44 seconds faster than Zabel. A couple minutes later, Ben Day (AUS) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, who will be retiring after the USA Pro Challenge, crossed the line seven seconds faster than Konig to take the lead.
“The crowds we had in that last kilometer were pretty mad; it was a lot of fun,” said Day.
That wouldn’t hold for long though, as Rogers hit the top of Vail Pass at 26 minutes and six seconds, destroying Day’s time by almost a minute and a half.
Ben King (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp, who went off 97th today, finished one minute and six seconds behind Rogers, which would be good enough for third at that point, knocking Jens Voigt (GER) of Trek Factory Racing into fourth.
The top positions continued to switch around, as Mick Rogers’ teammate Pawe? Polja?ski (POL) finished to take the second place slot. At this point, Tinkoff-Saxo was showing their strength with three riders in the top four on the leaderboard.
At the intermediate checkpoint, Ben Hermans (BEL) of BMC Racing Team clocked a faster time than Rogers by two seconds. That time wouldn’t hold for long though, as Tom Danielson (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp would crush it as he came through at twelve minutes and 43 seconds, 26 seconds faster than Hermans.
Danielson was putting in quite a ride, but still to come through the checkpoint was Tour de France KOM Jersey winner Rafae?Majka (POL) of Tinkoff-Saxo and current overall leader van Garderen. At the checkpoint, Majka was in third, nine seconds behind Danielson. As expected though, van Garderen charged through the checkpoint at 29 mph with a time of 20 second faster than Danielson.
Pushing himself as hard as he could go, Danielson crossed the line at 25 minutes and 19 seconds to take the lead.
“I’ll be honest. I was a little insecure about today,” said Danielson. “I haven’t done a good time trial this year. It was nice to get that monkey off my back today. I felt pretty strong and the crowd was incredible. Colorado crowds are second to none. The last 500 meters were absolutely insane. I thought I was going to crash and I was in so much pain. It was really cool though. I’m very happy with my performance today.”
Serghei Tvetcov (ROM) of Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis finished the stage just behind Danielson to take second place for the time being. But then, in a huge push to the finish, van Garderen crossed the line at 24 minutes and 21 seconds to not only take the stage and keep his overall lead, but set a new course record, besting the record he set last year by 41 seconds.
“Winning (the USA Pro Challenge Vail time trial) both times is just awesome,” added van Garderen. “I love racing in Colorado. To have competition like Tommy D., Serghei and Rafa? Majka just goes to show that this race is one of the highest class races in the world. To win it for the second time is no easy feat and I’m really honored.”
Most of the jerseys remained unchanged today with van Garderen keeping the Smashburger Leader Jersey and Colorado National Guard Best Colorado Rider Jersey. With no sprint competitions in today’s stage, Kiel Reijnen (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team held onto the Lexus Sprint Jersey. Ben Jacques-Maynes’ (USA) of Jamis-Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home performance today was enough to hold onto the Sierra Nevada King of the Mountains Jersey. And Clément Chevrier (FRA) of Bissell Development Team was able to keep his lead and remain in the Colorado State University Best Young Rider Jersey. King was awarded the FirstBank Most Aggressive Rider Jersey.
In addition to the finale of the 2014 Pro Challenge, Denver will feature another race before the pros hit the streets of downtown. The Lifeblood 5K run benefiting The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will utilize part of the race course and will take participants from the start near Seal Pond in Civic Center Park, through city streets and across the USA Pro Challenge Stage 7 finish line. The run starts at 10:45 a.m. and is open to people of all ages and abilities. Registration can be done onsite and more information can be found here: http://lifeblood5k.com/.
STAGE 7 TOMORROW:
Sunday, Aug. 24 – Boulder to Denver (133.8 km/83.1 mi)
Start Time: 12:30 p.m. MT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:50 p.m. MT
Satellite Feed Time: 4:45-5 p.m. MT (6:45-7 p.m. ET)
While Stage 7 stays on familiar terrain, every year is different and anything can happen in bike racing. Leaving Boulder on CO 93 the riders will have several hilly and windswept miles for breakaways to set up before reaching Golden for the first of two passes. Through Golden, the riders will tackle the 4-mile climb of Lookout Mountain, which they haven’t seen since 2011. Another quick pass of Golden and the race is screaming through suburbs en route to downtown Denver. An abbreviated version of last year’s circuit awaits the riders for three and a half fast laps through downtown, 17th Ave. and City Park. Over the years, the race has witnessed some incredible sprinting on Broadway in the heart of Denver and 2014 should be no exception.
1. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) 24mins 26.500 secs, 2. Tom Danielson
(USA/GRS) 53 seconds back, 3. Serghei Tvetcov (ROM/JBC) at 1:08, 4. Rafal
Majka (POL/TCS) at 1:29, 5. Michael Rogers (AUS/TCS) at 1:40, 6. Ben Hermans
(BEL/BMC) at 1:55, 7. Bartosz Huzarski (POL/TNE) at 2:07, 8. Joseph Rosskopf
(USA/HSD) at 2:17, 9. Matthew Busche (USA/TFR) at 2:20, 10. Carter Jones
(USA/OPM) at 2:21
1. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) 17hr 20min 22sec 2. Tom Danielson (USA/GRS)
at 1:32, 3. Serghei Tvetcov (ROM/JBC) 1:45, 4. Rafal Majka (POL/TCS) 1:49, 5.
Matthew Busche (USA/TFR) at 3:11, 6. Joseph Rosskopf (USA/HSD) 3:31, 7.
Bartosz Huzarski (POL/TNE) 3:35, 8. Carter Jones (USA/OPM) 3:43, 9. Ben
Hermans (BEL/BMC) 3:44, 10. Bruno Pires (POR/TCS) 5:35
· 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 – Ben King (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp
· Colorado National Guard Best Colorado Rider Jersey – Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team