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"There was big confusion with us stopping on the wet, freezing-cold, rainy downhill after we had done all the dirt. But once we re-started, we still got into our mindset that we were out to make something happen on this stage and I thi...

Photo: Sirotti






20.08.2014 @ 14:09 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tejay van Garderen proved that he is ready to defend his title in the USA Pro Challenge when he dropped all his rivals in the first summit finish of the race. Having made the race hard all day in a quest to win the stage, the defending champion was highly critical of the neutralization of the race that probably cost him the victory.


BMC Racing Team's Ben Hermans moved into second overall and teammate Tejay van Garderen stands third following a rain-soaked, uphill finish that was preceded by a brief stoppage of the race Tuesday at the USA Pro Challenge. Van Garderen finished third on the 169-kilometer stage and in the same time as runner-up Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp) and seven seconds behind solo winner Robin Carpenter (Hincapie Sportswear Development). Hermans was fourth, 15 seconds back of the stage winner and moved into second overall, 11 seconds behind new race leader Howes. Van Garderen is one second back and tied on time with Matthew Busche (Trek Factory Racing).


"We had a plan to make it hard up Kebler Pass and the boys did an amazing job," van Garderen said. "I think everyone was on the limit, lots of guys were dropped. There was big confusion with us stopping on the wet, freezing-cold, rainy downhill after we had done all the dirt. But once we re-started, we still got into our mindset that we were out to make something happen on this stage and I think it was mission accomplished."

Carpenter had been part of the day's 12-man breakaway that slowly disintegrated as it made its way up the second-to-last climb. The BMC Racing Team led the chase, first with Yannick Eijssen, Martin Kohler and Rick Zabel, and later with Brent Bookwalter and Michael Schär.


But as the gap to the escapees came down, so did heavy rain, turning the dirt to mud. Officials stopped the race to neutralize it on the descent and Carpenter was given more than a minute's lead upon the re-start.


Van Garderen, who won a stage in 2012 that featured the same finish, said there was briefly talk among riders of keeping the race neutral the rest of the way.


"But for me, it did not make sense because there was a guy in the breakaway and if we stop, he is going to take 10 minutes and run away with the race," the defending champion said. "Secondly, we were riding all day and that would not have been fair to the guys who had spent so much energy to just say this energy was spent for nothing."

Van Garderen attacked Howes inside the final kilometer while Hermans – third on Stage 1 – stayed patient.


"We wanted to win the stage with Tejay," Hermans said. "The plan was that Tejay could go for the stage and I would watch the moves of Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) and the other dangerous guys. At the end, I dropped Danielson and Busche and the other guys were behind. So I think we did a good job with the team."


BMC Racing Team Sport Director Jackson Stewart said he was pleased with the day's overall outcome, but disappointed by the neutralization.


"We knew we could do a good ride and put some damage into the race. But if you are going to neutralize it, you need to do it at the top of the climb where guys can still be warm and can put jackets on. In the end, the race was changed a lot by this. It is a weird race when we have elements like this. Luckily our guys were able to endure that stuff and do well today."



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