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After a fantastic solo attack by Voigt that was neutralized just 800m from the finish, Viviani proved that he is the fastest sprinter in the USA Pro Challenge by easily winning stage 4; van Garderen defended his lead

Photo: Sirotti








22.08.2014 @ 00:30 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Elia Viviani (Cannondale) proved that he is in a class of his own in the USA Pro Challenge when he took a very dominant sprint victory over Martin Kohler (BMC) and Sergei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly) in stage 4 of the race. However, the stage was made special by Jens Voigt (Trek) who did an amazing solo performance before being caught less than 1km from the line while Tejay van Garderen (BMC) safely defended his lead.


Jens Voigt got agonizingly close to the big farewell win in today’s stage 4 of the USA Pro Challenge but a combined effort of several sprint teams denied him the final big victory of his long career. Having attacked from a 12-rider breakaway, he rode solo for almost 50km before being caught by the peloton just 800m from the line.


Instead, it ended as a great day for Cannondale who finally took the sprint win with Elia Viviani that they had missed on the opening day. The Italian proved to be in a class of his own in the final dash to the line, easily holding off Martin Kohler and Sergei Tvetcov with several bike lengths.


After the queen stage, the USA Proc Challenge continued with a significantly easier circuit race through the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. The short 113.1km stage was made up of four laps of a circuit with a category 4 climb at its midpoint and a finish on a long, flat road, meaning that it was likely to suit a strong sprinter or a brave attacker.


All riders who finished yesterday’s took the start under beautiful weather conditions. Unlike in the previous stages, the break went almost straight from the gun as 12 riders got clear already 3km of racing.


Jens Voigt (Trek), Laurent Didier (Trek), Gregor Mühlberger (NetApp-Endura), Adam Phelan (Drapac), Danny Summerhill (UnitedHealthCare), Martijn Verschoor (Novo Nordisk), Rob Britton (SmartStop), Oscar Clark (Hincapie), Toms Skujins (Hincapie), Ben Jacques-Maynes (Jamis), Steve Fisher (Jelly Belly) and Ruben Zepuntke (Bissell) made up the very strong move that had built a 45-second advantage at the 10km mark. BMC just set a steady pace in the peloton and when Jacques-Maynes led Voigt, Summerhill and Britton across the line of the first KOM sprint, the gap had reached 4.10.


This was the signal for the Optum team to start their chase as they wanted to set up Ryan Anderson for a sprint and they started to bring down the gap. With 85km to go, the advantage was just 3.40 and moments later they got some assistance from the UnitedHealthCare and Garmin teams.


Summerhill sprinted ahead to win the first intermediate sprint ahead of Zepuntke and Britton but otherwise the 12 escapees worked splendidly together. As they hit the climb for the second time, the Optum riders stopped their work, leaving it to Phil Gaimon, Caleb Fairly (both Garmin) and Isaac Bolivar (UnitedHealthCare) to set the pace.


Those three riders did a great work and when Jacques-Maynes led Summerhill and Verschoor over the top for the second time, the gap was down to just 2.25. When Summerhill beat Skujins and Zepuntke in the second sprint, the advantage was still 2.20.


Going up the climb for the third time, Voigt realized that the group was losing ground and he made a very strong attack. Only Jacques-Maynes could match his speed and when he had taken maximum points in the KOM sprint, he decided to drop back to the chasers. Verschoor was dropped and fell back to the peloton.


In the peloton, Bolivar had blown up and so it was now only Gaimon and Fairly setting the pace. As soon as they had crested the summit, however, Cannondale lend Garmin a hand with Ted King and Cristiano Salerno and a little later, Bolivar was also back on the front.


With 35km to go, Voigt was already 50 seconds ahead of his chasers and he managed to extend his advantage over the peloton to 2.50. This prompted Optum to react and they joined Cannondale, Garmin and UnitedHealthCare on the front.


When Voigt crossed the line to start the final lap, he had extended his advantage over the chasers who were still working excellently together, to 1.25 but the peloton was now getting closer, having reduced their deficit to 2.15.


When the peloton hit the bottom of the final climb, they had brought back the chasers. As soon as they started to climb, Lucas Euser hit the front for UnitedHealthCare to make it hard for the sprinters and at the top he had brought the gap down to 1.10.


When the American swung off, however, no one was ready to take over and so the peloton came to a standstill. This opened the door for new attacks and Rob Squire (Jamis) was the first to make a move.


While the American opened a small gap, Garmin and Cannondale went back to work but with 13km to go, they were still 1.10 behind. At that point, Squire was brought back by Thomas Dekker (Garmin) and Alan Marangoni (Cannondale) who were chasing hard.


With 8km to go, the gap was still 1.00 and this prompted the Hincapie team to react. Oscar Clark started to chase with Marangoni but as Dekker had blown up, only two riders were doing the work.


The Trek riders did a great job to disrupt the chase and when Marangoni took his final turn, Laurent Didier and Frank Shclck even hit the front. They were passed by Clark but the young American and Tom Zirbel (Optum) rider were now the only riders contributing to the pace-setting.


With 5km to go, the gap was only 40 seconds and now Cannondale went back to the front. Marangoni and Wurf joined forces with the American and now Voigt was losing ground at a faster rate.


UnitedHealthCare and SmartStop also started to chase and it was now several teams in a big fight against Voigt. With 3km to go, the gap was down to 20 seconds and all was set for a nail-biting finale.


American champion Eric Marcotte (SmartStop) led the peloton under the flamme rouge and moments later he passed Voigt. Then his teammate Travis McCabe took over but the Smartstop team ran out of power too early.


Instead, Robin Carpenter hit the front for Hincapie before his teammate Ty Magner launched a long sprint. However, he had Viviani on his wheel and the Italian took a hugely dominant victory.


Tejay van Garderen (BMC) had an easy day in the saddle and safely defended his 20-second lead over Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo). He faces a tougher ask tomorrow in stage 5 which is a long gradual climb to the top of Hoosier Pass before the riders descend to  the bottom of the short, steep Borean Pass Road. From the top, only 4km of fast descending remain, meaning that we can expect the GC riders to try to put the race leader under pressure.



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