van Garderen Wins USA Pro Challenge Time Trial Up Vail Pass

In an uphill battle to the finish, Stage 5 of the 2013 USA Pro Challenge, the Individual Time Trial, saw BMC Racing Team rider Tejay van Garderen (USA) cross the line first, taking home the stage win and solidifying his hold on the Smashburger Leader Jersey. Destroying the record from 2011 when the race used the same course (25’47″08), van Garderen put up an impressive time of 25’01″94. The “race of truth” was won in the final moments though, as he put four seconds on the second-place finisher Andrew Talansky (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp.

“The Individual Time Trial is the true test of a rider’s strength,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge. “What we saw today was amazing performances from van Garderen, Talansky and all the riders. You could tell from the looks on their faces at the top of Vail Pass that they really gave it their all. The number of fans that made the trek to be out there cheering them on at the top of Vail Pass was pretty amazing. I’m sure that was really motivating.”

Competition was fierce out on the road today with all the riders understanding the importance of the Individual Time Trial. By removing the team factor, the Individual Time Trial was a tough test and a fight for the General Classification.

On a course the dates back to one of the most iconic races in U.S. cycling history, the Coors Classic, the route took the riders on a 10-mile journey up Vail Pass. The gentle grades of the first half of the course gave way to a steady climb for the last three miles. With costumed fans that had hiked to the top to cheer the riders on lining the steepest part of the climb, one by one the cyclists crossed the line and fell over with exhaustion.

On a technical time trial course such as this, the riders had to be strategic. If they went too hard early, the climb may have been too much and killed any chances of a competitive time, but if they conserved too much for the climb, the leaderboard may have been out of reach.

After being the sixth person to ride out of the start house in Vail Village, Jason McCartney (USA) of Bissell Pro Cycling put up a time of 27’49″58 that would hold for the first hour of the race. That is until Kanstantsin Siutsou (BLR) of Sky Procycling who hit the block 26th today crossed the line with a 26’17″18, a time that would stick for a good part of the day and eventually place him in seventh.

As the day rolled on and the cyclists continued to contest the tough stage, new riders would slide into the No. 2 and 3 spots, never knocking down Siutsou. But when Andrew Talansky (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp rode up to the start house, he was ready and determined to leave it all out on the road. Posting a time of 25’05″70, destroying the record from the 2011 USA Pro Challenge, Talansky took over the lead, which he would hold until the final seconds of the stage.

With the day coming to a close and the top-ranked riders getting ready to head out on their test against the clock, everyone was waiting to see if Talansky’s time could be beaten. As one of the last riders to hit the course, Tom Danielson (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp pushed the pace to get the fastest time possible. Unfortunately though, his effort wouldn’t be enough and he would end up in third.

“Today’s course was really challenging from a time trial standpoint,” said Danielson. “For one, it’s really challenging to figure out what equipment to use. It was also difficult to tell how to pace yourself. We just tried to be smart about it. I raced pretty evenly the whole time and did the best I could.”

The last one out of the gate, van Garderen posted the fastest split of the day, leaving people wondering if he could maintain his pace and take the win from Talansky. With fans cheering and beating on the barriers at the top of Vail Pass, van Garderen pulled out the win, besting the top time by four seconds.

“It was certainly a tough effort. I don’t even know how to describe it,” said van Garderen. “Up there, your lungs are searing in the thin air. I was trying to be conservative on the way up, doing my best to keep the pace, but it’s still such a difficult thing to do when you’re at 10,000 ft. I was surprised that I got the stage win because I felt pretty bad coming in there at the end. Hopefully we can hold this jersey through Denver.”

Remaining in the Smashburger Leader Jersey heading into the penultimate day of racing is van Garderen. Without any sprint or KOM points awarded during the Time Trial, Peter Sagan (SVK) of Cannondale Pro Cycling held onto the Clif Bar Sprint Jersey and Matt Cooke (USA) of Jamis-Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home the Nissan King of the Mountains Jersey. Lachlan David Morton (AUS) of Team Garmin-Sharp kept the Colorado State University Best Young Rider Jersey. Mick Rogers (AUS) of Team Saxo-Tinkoff was awarded the FirstBank Most Courageous Rider Jersey for his performance today.

Full Results

Saturday, Aug. 24 – Loveland to Ft. Collins (185.4 km/115.2 mi)
Start Time: 11:35 a.m. MT
Estimated Finish Time: 4:15 p.m. MT
Satellite Feed Time: 5-5:15 p.m. MT

With a flat speed-fest scheduled for Sunday in Denver, any contenders for the Leader Jersey will have only this stage left to make a move or lose it all. The outskirts of Loveland will see the racers off as they spend some early miles on the flat windswept plains passing through Windsor and back to Loveland. Then it’s up Big Thompson Canyon where things will heat up. Split north onto Devils Gultch, the race’s last King of the Mountains competition, before hitting Estes Park and back down Big Thompson. Horsetooth Reservoir provides one last chance for aggression on its steep rollers. If no one gets away here, look for the sprinters to have their day.

How to Watch the 2013 USA Pro Challenge
Fans can view the race on the daily NBC Sports Network and NBC broadcasts. Stage 6 will air live on NBC tomorrow from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. and on NBC Sports from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. MT.

Photo courtesy Team Garmin-Sharp

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