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With attacks, nosebleeds, and lost time, Sky sees eventful Pro Challenge opener

British Tour winner survives a tumultuous day, but Joe Dombrowski loses five seconds and trio of Tour men sheds more than four minutes

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ASPEN, Colo. (VN) — On Saturday, Sky’s Richie Porte joked that he was overweight and out of shape coming into the USA Pro Challenge. On Monday, the Australian was attacking off the front of the peloton with 20 kilometers remaining on the 32km circuit, momentarily looking like he might ride clear and vie for the stage win.

Porte’s move was just one of several notable moments for Sky in Aspen on stage 1, which also saw Tour de France champion Chris Froome slip off the back of the bunch with 12km to go, and young American Joe Dombrowski suffer a nosebleed that forced him to go back to the team cars to stuff his nostrils with gauze midway through the race.

Dombrowski’s medical situation, around 50km to go, was minor, though he finished 18th, leading in a group containing defending champion Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp), which lost five seconds to winner Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and a number of GC contenders.

“I’m feeling all right, it was nothing too major,” Dombrowski told VeloNews. “I think it was just the dry air, combined with heavy breathing. I had a couple of nosebleeds today, but I went back to the doctor’s car, and they gave me some gauze to put in there. It was a harder stage than I think a lot of people thought it was going to be. The [McLain Flats] climb, with 10km to go — they were going hard.”
See Joe Dombrowski talk nose bleeds >>

Later, on the fast and frenetic final lap, Porte attacked before the Snowmass Village KOM, opening a small gap with a handful riders. The move was brought back after a few kilometers.

“It was just one of those things, it seemed like a good thing to do at the time,” Porte said. “I’m here to have fun as well. I thought the few kilos extra I had would help on the descent, but obviously not.”
See Richie Porte talk about his attack >>

Not long after Porte had gone off the front, Froome briefly slipped off the back of the pack. The Tour winner was dropped before the short descent to the final ramp of the McLain climb, with about 12km to go, but caught back onto a large chase group through some crafty descending. He lost 4:59 — 1:42 less than the 6:41 that Porte and Sky co-leader Kanstantin Sitsou bled.

“My job today was helping the other guys get up to the front, once I’d done that I just took it a bit easier,” Froome said. “Tomorrow’s a big day and I want to be able to help again tomorrow, so there was no need to work any harder than necessary today.”

Immediately following the stage, Porte said he hadn’t known anything about Froome losing contact with the peloton, but said it was of little concern.

“I didn’t actually see it, but we both know where we are,” he said. “We’re here to use this race as a good kick-start to the second part of the season.”