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Acevedo quietly chalks up another big victory

Colombian climbs through the noise of the top favorites for his third UCI stage win of the year at the Pro Challenge

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (VN) — The talk of Tejay van Garderen, Tom Danielson, Mathias Frank, and Peter Sagan has dominated this USA Pro Challenge, but Colombian Janier Acevedo quietly rode his way into yet another major stage win in Beaver Creek on Thursday.

After initiating a downhill attack on the wet, twisting descent of Bachelor Gulch, the Colombian climber from Jamis-Hagens Berman paired up with BMC Racing’s van Garderen and drove home their gap over Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp).

Van Garderen did not contest the final, uphill sprint into Beaver Creek, bringing Acevedo his third stage win at a UCI stage race in the U.S. this season.

Acevedo won the Tramway Road summit finish in Palm Springs on stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California in May, 12 seconds ahead of van Garderen, and finished third overall. The 27-year-old rider from Medelin also won a climbing stage at the Tour of the Gila in May, and finished third overall at the Tour of Utah earlier this month, behind Danielson.

While his teammate, Matt Cooke, has been on the podium each day, in the KOM jersey, since the race began on Monday, Acevedo has been biding his time behind the scenes, closely marking pre-race favorites Danielson and van Garderen.

He lost a bit of time to both riders on stage 2 into Breckenridge, after van Garderen followed an attack by Sagan (Cannondale) to the finish. Still, his Jamis team director Seba Alexandre wasn’t concerned, telling VeloNews , “Janier didn’t feel good on the last climb, and he finished in a small group at the front. He’s still close. He lost some time to Tejay, and I think Tejay showed he’s in good form, but [Thursday] is the queen stage, and that is going to be hard, and we’ll hope that he will be better that day.”

And Acevedo was better on the queen stage.

On Thursday he benefitted from the GC battle between BMC and Garmin, and when the tempo lifted at the base of Bachelor Gulch, his red and black jersey was neatly tucked behind van Garderen, who sat on Danielson. Early on, Acevedo threw in an attack, however, no one went with him, and he eased off the pace.

“I saw that Tom only had one rider left, and the pace was not that hard, so I tried to go,” Acevedo said. “I wanted to see if Tejay could come with me, but when he didn’t go, I decided to wait for the end of the stage to try to win.”

One by one the others peeled off, including Cooke and overnight leader Lachlan Morton (Garmin), until just three remained over the top of the climb.

From there, Acevedo — who dazzled in Utah with his descending skills to take second behind Francisco Mancebo (5-hour Energy-Kenda) on stage 6 in Park City — took his fingers off the brakes on the wet and twisting descent, gapping off Danielson.

“I actually tried to go as easy as I could on the downhill,” Acevedo said after the podium ceremony. “I tried not to take risks on the downhill.”

With van Garderen riding to distance Danielson, the pair quickly formed an alliance, sharing pulls on the descent and into the final, 3.5-kilometer climb to Beaver Creek. Acevedo took the victory and van Garderen took the race lead, while Danielson lost an additional 22 seconds to the BMC rider. Meanwhile, Cooke added to his KOM lead, bringing two Jamis riders onto the podium presentation.

Asked by Colombian journalist Luis Barbosa what it meant for him to have won stages at the biggest races in the U.S., Acevedo answered, “I feel very proud of the season I’m having. It’s amazing to win in California and in Colorado, with all the big names here. I’m very happy with my teammates and with the whole team — that they all work for me, and help me during all the races, it’s a dream for me.”

Inevitably, when a promising rider posts top results in the States, the questions about signing with a ProTeam arise, as they did Thursday in Beaver Creek. Asked how many top European teams had contacted him about a spot on their roster, Acevedo gracefully dodged the question.

“I am very happy to prove that my stage win in Californian wasn’t a fluke,” he said. “But I am happy where I am, and I am happy to stay with my team.”

If that is the case, Jamis should get used to sticking around for the podium presentation.