Tejay van Garderen and Tom Danielson duel on a rain-soaked Vail Pass, and the race leader triumphs in record time
Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) extended his overall lead at the USA Pro Challenge on Saturday by crushing a rain-soaked edition of the Vail Time Trial that saw him shatter his own record.
The 10-mile race against the clock, which started in the ski town of Vail and climbed most of its namesake pass, was run under dark skies on wet roads. The climb began gradually, then steepened into a steady grind for the final three miles.
At the top, Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) held the soggy hot seat with a finishing time of 26:06 as van Garderen started his own race of truth down below.
But in between Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) was setting his own brisk pace, hitting the time check in 12:43, the fastest ride to that point.
“I’ll be honest. I was definitely a little bit insecure. I haven’t done a good TT this year,” he said. “I gotta think back to my last time trial in Tour of Suisse or whatever … it was nice to get that monkey off my back. Once I got out there I felt really strong … and the crowd was incredible. Colorado crowds are second to none.”
Van Garderen bettered Danielson’s mark by 20 seconds when he blazed through, but the battle continued.
Danielson blew Rogers out of the hot seat when he hit the line in 25:19, 47 seconds better than the Tinkoff time-trial specialist. But van Garderen did likewise to the Garmin climber, thundering home in 24:26, winning the stage and breaking his own record of 25:02 — with an average speed of 24.6 mph.
“I think I was assisted by a bit of tailwind, that helped. Rain and cold didn’t help. Whether or not I set the record, it was a win-win today,” said van Garderen. “Having experience on this course was huge. The first one I did, I blew sky high. On the second one, I was good, but the pacing was off. This one I was perfectly smooth the whole way.”
Danielson had to settle for second on the day at 52 seconds with Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly-Maxxis) third at 1:08.
“Superman over here just came flying through,” said Danielson, referring to van Garderen. “He’s the best guy in the race. To be second to him is a big honor. I’m very, very happy with my performance today.”
On the overall, van Garderen confirmed his grip on the yellow jersey. Danielson had moved into second at 1:31, while Tvetcov sat third at 1:45. Rafal Majka (Tinkoff), who started the day in second overall, slipped to fourth at 1:48.