BEAVER CREEK, Colorado (VN) — Tejay van Garderen attacked on the finishing ramp in Beaver Creek Thursday, hoping to steal a few seconds from Levi Leipheimer and the Garmin-Sharp gaggle, but the lanky American hopes the meaningful moments of this bike race will come on Sunday, in the USA Pro Challenge’s closing time trial in Denver.
Van Garderen rode himself back into yellow, taking the jersey off Garmin-Sharp Christian Vande Velde’s back, but the two remain on the same time. RusVelo’s Ivan Rovny is in third at 6 seconds; Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is 8 seconds back; and Joseph Dombrowksi (Bontrager-Livestrong) is at 12 seconds, along with Astana’s Janez Brajkovic.
“As far as the yellow jersey goes, that wasn’t the main reason I was trying to attack,” van Garderen said. “I was hoping to steal a couple of seconds, but I don’t think there were any gaps.”
Indeed, there were not any time gaps. German Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan) bravely soloed to victory as the BMC team and the rest of the peloton eased off the gas. Van Garderen is clearly saving his bullets.
“We’ve had to ride the front almost every day now,” he said. “We can’t kill the team.”
There are two pivotal stages left that will decide this Pro Challenge. One is a climber’s stage that ends on the hallowed ground of Flagstaff Mountain (3.5 miles and 1,200 feet of climbing). The other is that 9.5-mile individual time trial in Denver.
Van Garderen described the Boulder stage as one that will belong to a pure climber, but said if he can stay close on time with his GC rivals that he should take home the overall.
“I’m pretty confident that I’m the better time trialer,” he said.
Much has been made here over Garmin-Sharp’s attacking — the team has certainly been on a rampage across Colorado — but van Garderen said he was worried about someone else entirely.
“Levi,” he said, adding that the defending champion is “in good shape and he’s looking really fit. Really lean.”
“He doesn’t have the strongest team here, so my prediction is he’s going all in for Boulder,” said van Garderen. “And then if he can get it on Flagstaff then he doesn’t need the team in the time trial.”