Van Garderen wins stage 5 of the 2013 USA Pro Challenge

Reversing the misfortune of 2011, American locks in yellow with a narrow victory on Vail Pass

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

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Tejay van Garderen won the stage 5 time trial at the USA Pro Challenge in Vail, Colorado, on Friday. The final starter of the day, van Garderen (BMC Racing) logged the fastest time, stopping the clock at 25:01 at the end of 16 kilometers.

The win consolidated the American’s grip on the general classification with two days left in the seven-stage tour.

Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) was second, at four seconds. Tom Danielson (Garmin) was third, at 1:02.

Mathias Frank (BMC Racing) moved up to second overall, now 1:30 behind his teammate. Tom Danielson is third, at 1:42, and Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) fell to fourth overall, at 2:10.

The third USA Pro Challenge continues Saturday with the 185km sixth stage, from Loveland to Fort Collins. The penultimate leg features the 33km Cat. 2 climb of Devil’s Gulch, which tops out above 14 percent near the top, and a series of six ramps — including two that top out near 15 percent and run for 750 meters each — leading to the mostly flat final 10km.

McCartney, Siutsou top the early comers

The East Vail course read as a tale of two halves. The 16-kilometer route rolled out of the winding streets of Vail Village and flat for the first half before tilting up onto the bike path climbing the Pass for the final 8km. The course climbed 1,694 vertical feet, all of it in the final 8km. The last time the USA Pro Challenge utilized the Vail stage was 2011, when Levi Leipheimer won the stage in 25:47, just .58 faster than Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp).

Jason McCartney (Bissell) started fifth on Friday and set the early fast time of 27:49. The results wouldn’t hold, but was good enough to keep Nathan Brown (Livestrong) and Richie Porte (Sky) at bay.
Froome fourth 28:08

Kanstantin Siutsou (Sky) started 25th and displaced McCartney with a 26:17, however, and his lead would last 31 riders. Chris Froome (Sky) faltered and finished in 28:08. The top rider at the Tour de France in July could not contend on the west slope of Vail Pass, but the 10th-best rider in France could.

After setting a new fast mark at the intermediate check, 27 seconds better than the race leader, Talansky blew Sitsou’s time away at the finish, stopping the clock at 25:05 before nearly falling off his bike beyond the finish. The Forida native sat on the ground against a race vehicle, gasping for air, having taken the lead by 1:12.

Starting two riders after Talansky, Tobias Ludviggson (Argos-Shimano) pushed Siutsou from second, cutting past the Belarusian by fractions of a second.

Rider after rider pushed through the finish, but none could unseat the 24-year-old Talansky. BMC Racing’s Stephen Cummings and Larry Warbasse slotted into second and third, respectively, at 1:00 and 1:08.

Lachlan Morton (Garmin) impressed with the second best intermediate time, just five seconds behind Talansky. Their teammate, Tom Danielson, blazed through the time check minutes later for the third best time, at six seconds.

But the overall race leader was still to come, and van Garderen went under Talansky’s time by 32 seconds. Up the road one minute, Acevedo was bleeding time, having lost 59 seconds to his pursuer at the check.

Near the top of the pass, Morton and Danielson faded on the climb. The Aussie, who led the race until van Garderen’s coup on Thursday, crossed the line sixth, at 1:13. Danielson held on to log the second best time, but was 58 seconds behind.

Frank stopped the clock at 26:27, 1:22 down, but down the road, van Garderen was maintaining on the climb.

Acevedo stopped the clock at 26:41, just ahead of van Garderen, who rode smartly to defend the lead he’d built up on the flat first half of the course.

Resplendent in yellow, the American crossed the line in 25:01, setting a new course record for the Vail time trial, and leaving no doubt that he was in Colorado to win his home-state race.

Van Garderen escaped from his bike to a nearby chair, bending at the waist, before being notified of his victory. The win would mean that he could ride defensively onto Colorado’s Front Range — roads on which he trained as a young rider — for the race’s final two stages.

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