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It took about an hour for a breakaway to form in Saturday’s sixth stage of the USA Pro Challenge, but it was worth it for the riders up the road in the end: Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) proved the strongest of a small lead group to take the stage 6 win. Breakaway companions Javier Megias (Novo Nordisk) and Leonardo Basso (Trek Factory Racing) finished second and third, respectively. Rohan Dennis, finishing in the pack behind, retained his race lead.
After an active start that saw several attempted breakaway moves, Kreuziger, Basso, Megias, Nate Brown (Cannondale-Garmin), Dylan Girdlestone (Drapac), Tom Zirbel (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies), and Danny Summerhill (UnitedHealthcare) finally formed the day’s break after 50km of racing. The group’s advantage grew to over four minutes before the peloton started to cut into it again on the day’s toughest uphill test, the Rist Canyon climb.
The seven-man group became a six-man group when Summerhill crashed on the descent, but the escapees were still able to hold out a considerable advantage as they neared the finish line in Fort Collins, taking a gap of about a minute and a half into the final 10km.
As it became clear that the peloton would not be able to catch the move, Kreuziger attacked his breakaway companions with around 5km to go. Brown latched onto his wheel, while the rest of the group settled in for a chase. The duo opened up a bit a of space on the four behind, but the gap never grew too big, and Megias successfully bridged to Kreuziger and Brown with about a kilometer to go.
Megias launched his sprint first, but he was unable to shake Kreuziger, who then wound up his own sprint kick and sailed past inside the final few hundred meters to take the win.
Top 10, stage 6
- 1. Roman KREUZIGER, TINKOFF – SAXO, in 3:50:35
- 2. Javier MEGIAS LEAL, TEAM NOVO NORDISK, at :00
- 3. Leonardo BASSO, TREK FACTORY RACING, at :00
- 4. Dylan GIRDLESTONE, DRAPAC PROFESSIONAL CYCLING, at :00
- 5. Tom ZIRBEL, OPTUM P/B KELLY BENEFIT STRATEGIES, at :00
- 6. Nathan BROWN, TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN, at :04
- 7. John MURPHY, UNITEDHEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL CYCLING TEAM, at :41
- 8. Lucas Sebastian HAEDO, JAMIS – HAGENS BERMAN, at :41
- 9. Kiel REIJNEN, UNITEDHEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL CYCLING TEAM, at :41
- 10. Logan OWEN, AXEON CYCLING TEAM, at :41
Top 10, GC
- 1. Rohan DENNIS, BMC RACING TEAM, in 21:33:33
- 2. Brent BOOKWALTER, BMC RACING TEAM, at :44
- 3. Rob BRITTON, TEAM SMARTSTOP, at 1:31
- 4. Gavin MANNION, JELLY BELLY P/B MAXXIS, at 1:49
- 5. Lachlan David MORTON, JELLY BELLY P/B MAXXIS, at 1:53
- 6. Tao GEOGHEGAN HART, AXEON CYCLING TEAM, at 1:58
- 7. Lachlan NORRIS, DRAPAC PROFESSIONAL CYCLING, at 2:02
- 8. Toms SKUJINS, HINCAPIE RACING TEAM, at 2:08
- 9. Hugh CARTHY, CAJA RURAL-SEGUROS RGA, at 2:13
- 10. Julien BERNARD, TREK FACTORY RACING, at 2:14
“We came with two goals and we missed one [the overall podium] in the beginning because BMC is really strong,” said Kreuziger. “We were not ready for the higher altitude. The other goal was to win the stage. Today was a good day to try. I started to feel a little bit better. After the Time Trial yesterday, my condition was better than other days so we had a plan to try. I’m really happy that it worked.”
Rohan Dennis finished safely in the peloton 44 seconds behind Kreuziger to maintain his spot on the general classification leaderboard.
The USA Pro Challenge concludes Sunday with a 68.2-mile stage 7 from Golden to Denver.