USAPC12 St.2: Tejay Takes Crested Butte!
Photo Report: Stage 2 of the 2012 USA Pro Challenge featured a challenging ride under blue skies and saw an unexpected finish, with Tejay Van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team pulling through to take the stage win and the overall lead. PEZ photog Darrell Parks was there to record the action – and the beauty in Colorado.
– Photos by Darrell Parks, words provided by USA Pro Challenge –
Following close behind were Christian Vande Velde (USA) of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda in second and Ivan Rovny (RUS) of RusVelo in third. After today’s performance, van Garderen takes the overall lead to claim the Exergy Leader Jersey.
“I wasn’t going into the last 4 km thinking I was going to win, but I knew I was going to try,” said Van Garderen. “When I looked over my shoulder and I saw Christian Vande Velde on my wheel, I thought he was in a perfect position to outsprint me, but at this altitude, I think he may have had trouble with his acceleration.”
Reaching impressive average uphill speeds of 25 mph, the riders gave it their all to keep the competition going strong heading into returning host city Crested Butte.
An early break of about 30 riders wouldn’t stick, but did lead to a smaller group of 12 tearing off the front to form a breakaway that would last up until the last minutes of the stage. The original break consisted of the following riders:
• Alex Howes (USA) of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda
• Camilo Castiblanco (COL) of EPM-UNE
• Christopher Baldwin (USA) of Bissell Pro Cycling
• Craig Lewis (USA) of Champion System Pro Cycling Team
• David Zabriskie (USA) of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda
• Jens Voigt (GER) of RadioShack-Nissan-Trek
• Julien El Fares (FRA) of Team Type 1-SANOFI
• Mathias Frank (SUI) of BMC Racing Team
• Matt Cooke (USA) of Team Exergy
• Rafael Infantino (COL) of EPM-UNE
• Valerio Agnoli (ITA) of Liquigas-Cannondale
• Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) of Liquigas-Cannondale
Heading into the first climb of the day – Cat. 3 Cerro Summit (7,973 ft.) – Castiblanco pulled away from the group to take max points, followed by Cooke and Nibali, but then was absorbed back into the group. Continuing into the second KOM – Cat. 3 Blue Mesa Summit (8,719 ft.) – a similar situation unfolded with Castiblanco, Cooke, Lewis taking first, second and third, respectively.
Continuing on, the riders approached the first Waste Management sprint line of the day in Gunnison, which will also play host to start of Stage 3 tomorrow. Crossing to the cheers of enthusiastic crowds lining the route, the maximum points went to Howes, followed by Baldwin and Lewis.
In an unfortunate accident, Ben King (USA) of RadioShack-Nissan-Trek, Georg Preidler (AUT) of Team Type 1-SANOFI, Rubens Bertogliati (SUI) of Team Type 1-SANOFI and Sergey Klimov (RUS) of RusVelo hit the deck at the back of the peloton, but all were able to recover and finish out the stage.
With the stage nearing the finish, the break was reduced to nine riders after Voigt, Nibali and El Fares fell back to the peloton. In a last effort, with about 3 km to go, Castiblanco attacked the break, but was brought back in by Frank. And in an unexpected last minute push, van Garderen came out of nowhere with Vande Velde on his wheel, to take the stage win and the overall lead.
“I am really happy with my ride today and very proud of how the team is riding here in Colorado,” said Vande Velde. “As an American team based in Boulder, this race is a special one for us. The team is ultra-motivated, we’ve animated the race the first two days and we hope to continue to do so as the week goes on.”
Tejay van Garderen took the Exergy Leader Jersey. Tyler Farrar (USA) of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda kept the Waste Management Sprint Jersey, as did Tom Danielson (USA) of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda with the Nissan King of the Mountains Jersey. Rafael Infantino Abreu (COL) of EPM-UNE claimed Evolve Most Aggressive Rider Jersey for his effort on the climbs. Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) of Bontrager Livestrong Team was awarded the Aquadraat Best Young Rider Jersey.
Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
On today’s stage:
“Today was looking a bit like yesterday, it wasn’t 22 riders, but it was 12, and there were some big names up the road. It wasn’t a weak breakaway. We were lucky to have Frank Kevin Pipp in there, he’s a strong climber and GC rider, so that took the pressure off the team; it was up to the other teams to chase. They did a good job chasing, and we put some guys on the front with 20 km to go. It all worked out. I wasn’t going into the last 4 km thinking I was going to win, but I knew I was going to try. When I looked over my shoulder and I saw Christian Vande Velde on my wheel, I thought he was in a perfect position to outsprint me, but at this altitude, I think he may have had trouble with his acceleration.”
On his record:
“Last year at Tour of Utah was my first and only pro victory, and it was a time trial, so I didn’t have my hands in the air. Today was my first road stage win. I have been counting, and I have eight second-places in my career, and a lot of thirds and fourths.”
On his competition with Christian Vande Velde:
“Christian certainly looks like he’s riding strong. He was good in Utah, and he looks even better here now. I think if I can hold him, and not let him get away, I can beat him in the time trial. I’m confident in saying that. But there are also guys like Ivan Rovny, Levi Leipheimer and Chris Homer, and there are two more summit finishes to go, as well as the Aspen stage, which is not easy. It’s far from over.”
On his earliest memories of Christian Vande Velde:
“I’ve been a big fan of Christian Vande Velde since I was 11. I remember him. I watched the 1999 Tour de France and all the American teams were there along with Christian Vande Velde, Frank Schleck and George Hincapie. They were my idols back in the day.”
On aggressive riding for the next stages:
“Well, the layout of the course won’t calm down. Tomorrow is a hard stage, and the dirt road climb was especially hard last year. We also have to go through Independence Pass to get to the finish. And even in Stage 5 in Colorado Springs, we have to go straight up into the climb. It’s a straight break and only guys who have the legs can handle it. It won’t be easy.”
On competition with the Columbian riders:
“The Columbian riders have shown they are super-strong and are good at handling high altitudes because they are already adapted. It’s definitely hard to keep them under control. They ride aggressive and attack and sometimes they can break the normal flow of the race ─ which adds another element.”
Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda
On today’s performance:
“I am really happy with my ride today and very proud of how the team is riding here in Colorado. As an American team based in Boulder, this race is a special one for us. The team is ultra-motivated, we’ve animated the race the first two days and we hope to continue to do so as the week goes on.”
Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda
On today’s performance:
“It was a good day. I felt really strong today, especially after yesterday’s performance. I always suffer on this climb (up to Mt. Crested Butte) so, I’m happy to have it past me and move on to the parts of the race I like the most.”
Rafael Infantino (COL) EPM-UNE
On Stage 2:
“Today was a complicated day. It would have been impossible if the riders hadn’t worked together, but fortunately, we were motivated, and we did work well together. But the riders in the peloton were better and caught us. We tried to stay away to win the stage, but it was very hard. There was just not enough power in the last kilometer.”
Results Stage 2
1 28 VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC USA 00″
2 16 VANDEVELDE Christian GRS USA ‘ ‘
3 62 ROVNY Ivan RVL RUS 06″
4 1 LEIPHEIMER Levi OPQ USA 08″
5 154 RINCON DIAZ Ramiro EPM COL ‘ ‘
6 11 DANIELSON Tom GRS USA 12″
7 134 *DOMBROWSKI Joseph Lloyd BLS USA ‘ ‘
8 93 EUSER Lucas SPI USA ‘ ‘
9 43 CARUSO Damiano LIQ ITA ‘ ‘
10 25 TSCHOPP Johann BMC SUI ‘ ‘
11 51 BRAJKOVIC Janez AST SLO
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION After Stage 2 – Montrose to Mt Crested Butte
TUESDAY, 21, 2012
1 28 VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC USA 8h35’12” 00″
2 16 VANDEVELDE Christian GRS USA ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘
3 62 ROVNY Ivan RVL RUS 8h35’18” 06″
4 1 LEIPHEIMER Levi OPQ USA 8h35’20” 08″
5 154 RINCON DIAZ Ramiro EPM COL ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘
6 43 CARUSO Damiano LIQ ITA 8h35’24” 12″
7 87 BAZZANA Alessandro TT1 ITA ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘
8 31 HORNER Christopher RNT USA ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘
9 51 BRAJKOVIC Janez AST SLO ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘
10 93 EUSER Lucas SPI USA ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘
11 11 DANIELSON Tom GRS USA ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘
12 25 TSCHOPP Johann BMC SUI ‘ ‘
STAGE 3 Preview
Wednesday, Aug. 22 – Gunnison to Aspen (210.1 km/130.6 mi)
Start Time: 10:10 a.m. MT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:10-4:40 p.m. MT
Satellite Feed Time: 5 – 5:15 p.m. MT
In 2011, U.S. stage racing saw one of its toughest days with the ride from Gunnison to Aspen and in 2012 the “Queen Stage” will again feature two of the highest climbs in professional racing. The stage starts in downtown Gunnison with a short neutral section leading out of town; however, as soon as the racing begins, so do the challenges. Just after the first right turn the riders face the first Sprint Line of the day in the small community of Almont. This will most likely be the last time the true sprinters will play a part in this stage, as the race quickly turns uphill and heads toward the first King of the Mountain (KOM) of the day near Taylor Park Reservoir.
A short, flat section on the north side of the reservoir will be the last pavement the field will see for almost 14 miles, as the dirt climb that follows will take the race to 12,126 ft. and the highest point of the week at Cottonwood Pass. A beautiful, twisting descent will take the peloton down into the town of Buena Vista and the second sprint line of the day before heading north on US 24 to Twin Lakes. The left turn toward Twin Lakes will show the field what is to come as they see the massive ridge in front of them. Although the climb up Independence Pass is paved and not quite as high as Cottonwood, it is sure to produce fireworks again this year. Lined with fans in 2011, the climb to 12,095 ft. caused several gaps in the field that led to an exciting finish in Aspen, which will no doubt be duplicated in 2012.