Sagan collects a fourth stage win as van Garderen finally takes the top step on the final podium
Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) won the overall at the USA Pro Challenge in Denver on Sunday following a fourth stage win by Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
On a day that saw Tour de France winner Chris Froome (Sky) abandon after the first lap, van Garderen finished safely in the peloton to secure his second major stage-race victory of 2013.
Ryan Anderson (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) was second on the stage with Alessandro Bazzana (UnitedHealthcare) third.
The 116-kilometer final leg played out on a circuit encompassing Capitol Hill and City Park in downtown Denver. Each of eight laps ticked 16km off the race’s final stage as the temperature rose into the upper 80s Fahrenheit.
Seven riders escaped early in the first lap: former U.S. road champion Ben King (RadioShack-Leopard); Tyler Wren and Carson Miller (Jamis-Hagens Berman); David Lozano (Novo Nordisk); Christopher Juul Jensen (Saxo-Tinkoff); Chun Kai Feng (Champion System); and Lucas Euser (UnitedHealthcare).
BMC Racing, Cannondale, Bissell, and Colombia contributed the lion’s share of the work in the peloton and with 78km remaining, the gap was at one minute.
Pressure from Cannondale tore into the breakaway in the last three laps. King, Miller, and Euser were the last of the leaders to give way, with the catch coming inside the final kilometer of the penultimate lap.
“With two laps to go, they [the peloton] just put the hammer down,” said King.
“We started riding a little bit harder at that point. People started skipping pulls and anytime someone would try and sit on, I gave it a little gas. If they want to chase on, I’m going to make them chase.
“The same thing happened to me in the ToA. It seems every time I tried to get in the breakaway, I attack, attack, attack, and I come back with my head hanging, and the next move goes. It seems to be when I don’t care, it’s easiest to get in the break.”
Van Garderen, meanwhile, was happy to have finally sealed the deal in the Colorado race after finishing second and third.
“I felt like it was a long time coming because I’ve been so close both the other times,” he said. “It’s amazing to get it. Other years, I maybe wanted it too bad.”
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for more from Colorado.