A day after UnitedHealthcare ran away with the first two stages, Robert Förster left no doubt when he won the Cannon Falls Road Race at the Nature Valley Grand Prix Thursday night.
Förster was patient as the Jelly Belly-Kenda team of third-place Ken Hanson controlled the closing circuits of the 65-mile third stage and could not be matched on the uphill sprint. Förster’s teammate and stage 2 winner Jake Keough finished second.
With the 15-second time bonus at the finish, Förster replaced teammate Rory Sutherland as the overall leader. Sutherland finished safely in the bunch and unofficially left the stage four seconds behind his German mate.
With a rolling parcours, but very little wind, the attacking was almost non-stop over the 50 miles of terrain covered east of Cannon Falls. Kyle Wamsley (Bissell) was aggressive early and ended up with the King of the Hills jersey as a reward for his efforts for top points at the first two climbs.
Tom Zirbel (Jamis-Sutter Home) sat third before the stage and he was among a number of GC riders to try and take time out of Sutherland. Fifth overall Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) was another, but none of the moves ever took more than a minute on a peloton that motored hard over the short stage.
When the bunch entered the finish circuit over a half-mile section of dirt, the race was all together at the front. Jelly Belly came to the tip of the peloton and drove the group over the 1.9-mile loop. Hanson sat in the train, but with a lap to go, UHC took the back of the Jelly Belly line from Exergy and Förster was tops on the tough finish ramp.
Brief unofficial results
- 1. Robert Förster
- 2. Jake Keough
- 3. Ken Hanson (Jelly Belly-Kenda)
- 4. Ben Kersten (V Australia)
- 5. Frank Pipp (Bissell)