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Slovakian narrowly edges out Mezgec in close sprint after a hectic finale during which Voigt was caught just 2,9km from the line

Photo: Sirotti

PETER SAGAN

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

TREK - SEGAFREDO

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

USA PRO CYCLING CHALLENGE

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
22.08.2013 @ 00:40 Posted by Henriette Brandt

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) is unstoppable in this year's USA Pro Challenge. Today he doubled his tally in this year's edition of the Colorado race when he beat Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) and Ryan Anderson (Optum) in a sprint finish after a close fight against Jens Voigt (Radioshack) who was caught just 2,9km from the line.

 

Peter Sagan has dominated the sprints in the Tour of California in recent years and now he has continued his North American love story in Colorado. Today he won his second stage in the USA Pro Challenge on stage three of what is his first ever participation in the event.

 

The Slovakian had to use his entire team to reel in an extremely strong Jens Voigt who almost finished off a 50km solo action. As more teams decided to join the chase towards the end, the veteran finally had to give up and with 2,9km, it was all back together for a big bunch sprint.

 

BMC tried to lead out Greg Van Avermaet who opened his sprint from a perfect position. As it had been the case on stage 1, Sagan knew where to be and had made it onto the wheel of his Belgian rival. From there he opened his devastating sprint and held off a fast-finishing Luka Mezgez to take a narrow win.

 

Lachlan Morton (Garmin) finished safely in the bunch and so defended his narrow 2-second lead over Mathias Frank (BMC). The young Australian will face a much greater challenge on tomorrow's queen stage which contains a big climb close to the finish and a short ramp up to the finish.

 

First attacks

The 170,4km fourth stage as mostly a downhill run from Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs but the mighty Rabbit Ears Pass would challenge the sprinters. With its top located just 34km from the line, it was always a question whether it would be stage for the sprinters or a breakaway with the former option the most likely outcome.

 

The race started off with a fast downhill run and Ben King (Radioshack) launched an immediate attack. He was quickly reeled in, only to see Jonathan Clarke (UnitedHealthCare) and Martijn Verschoor (Novo Nordisk) try their luck but they were similarly ill-fated.

 

Battle for KOM points

The small Swan Mountain was located at the 11,3km mark and Jamis made sure to keep the pace high in an attempt to assist KOM leader Matt Cooke in his quest to bolster his lead in the mountains competition. It was, however, a difficult task and Davide Villella (Cannondale) made an attack to cross the line as the first rider. Cooke joined Jens Voigt (Radioshack), Serguei Tvetchov (Jelly Belly) and Tyler Wren (Jamis) in a small chase group and managed to cross the line in second position.

 

Cooke decided to save energy for later days and fell back to the peloton while his three companions bridged across to Villella on the descent. Josh Edmondson (Sky) set off in pursuit and he managed to make it up to the front group which now consisted of 5 riders.

 

Garmin in control

The peloton took a natural break, thus allowing the front group to stretch their lead to 4 minutes when Garmin-Sharp decided to control the pace for race leader Morton. The American team assumed its position on the front and made sure that the gap was kept relatively stable between 4 and 5 minutes for most of the stage.

 

The front group even allowed itself the rare luxury of taking a common natural break but that didn't bring the gap further down. However, the cooperation was never very good in the group and Voigt was clearly frustrated by the lack of cohesion.

 

Voigt goes off on his own

With 50km to go, the veteran decided that it was time to off alone but his fellow escapees managed to reel him in. He refused to give up and accelerated again just a few moments later and this time no one could match his speed.

 

Edmondson made an attempt to bridge across but never managed to accomplish his mission. The four chasers got back together but there was no cooperation at all and instead they kept launching new attacks.

 

Edmondson chases on his own

With 40km to go, Edmondson finally got clear while Optum and Argos-Shimano had now started to chase in the main field. When they hit the bottom of the main climb, they were still 4 minutes behind and so stopped their effort.

 

With Villella now no longer having any chance to take the stage win, Cannondale decided to take responsibility for the chase. Juraj Sagan, Nariyuki Masuda and Edward King combined forces on the front and did their utmost to reel in the escapees, bringing back Wren and Villella before the top.

 

Cooke solidifies KOM lead

Near the top Benjamin Jacques-Maynes accelerated with teammate Cooke in his wheel and the KOM leader made sure to take add further points to his tally. Moments later they brought back Tvetchov as Cannondale had now once again organized their chase-

 

Edmondson was brought back into the fold but with 25km to go, Voigt was still 3.50 ahead and with a fast descent coming up, it was now more than likely than Voigt would stay away. However, Bissell decided to join the chasers and when Optum and later also Argos also decided to contribute the gap now started to come down quickly.

 

An organized chase

With 10km to go, Voigt was still 1.40 ahead but by now Sky and Colombia did also contribute to chase. That spelled the end for Voigt who put up a fantastic fighting spirit, only to see it all come to nothing with 2,9km to go.

 

Bontrager had now taken control of the peloton which was disturbed by a big crash at the end of the peloton. BMC was the next to hit the front with Van Avermaet well-placed a few positions further back.

 

Under the flamme rouge, it was Argos' Patrick Gretsch who set the pace until Michael Schär finally launched his lead-out with Van Avermaet on his wheel. Despite the duo combining their forces well, it was all in vain as Sagan once again proved that he is the master of the North American sprints.

 

Result:

1. Peter Sagan 4.04.18

2. Luka Mezgec

3. Ryan Anderson

4. Greg Van Avermaet

5. Alessandro Bazzana

6. Edwin Avila

7. Martijn Verschoor

8. Tony Gallopin

9. Tanner Putt

10. Damiano Caruso

 

General classification:

1. Lachlan Morton 7.31.22

2. Mathias Frank +0.02

3. Peter Sagan +0.11

4. Tejay Van Garderen

5. Lawson Craddock +0.18

6. Tom Danielson  +0.29

7. Darwin Atapuma +0.35

8. Damiano Caruso +0.41

9. Greg Van Avermaet

10. Tony Gallopin

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