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Hello and welcome to our live coverage of stage 5 of the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado.
Today's stage will cover 168km from Woodland Park to Breckenridge. 122 riders have taken to the start - all of the riders who finished yesterday.
It's overcast and rainy at the start. The stage begins with a 3.3-mile neutral section.
Mountains classification leader Ben Jacques-Maynes (Jamis-Hagens Berman) tweeted yesterday that he was looking forward to a morning team meeting that didn't start with "Ben gets in the break." We asked him if he got his wish today, and he said, "No such luck. I've got one job to do, and that's to try and hang onto this jersey, and I'm going to do whatever it takes to make that happen."
Correction to what we wrote earlier. The peloton is down one rider today. Michael Mørkøv of the Tinkoff-Saxo team did not start.
The race is underway. We're expecting the usual flurry of initial attacks.
Christopher Jones and Tom Moses have attacked.
12 riders have a slight advantage at the moment.
There are two sprints and two KOMs in today's stage, however, the first of those, a sprint, isn't for 78.5 miles.
There are 10 riders at the front with a five-second gap.
Today's stage finishes in Breckenridge, where the mountain bikers have been busy racing recently. The Breck Epic finished up last weekend. You can check out all the coverage here.
The leader of the race going into today's stage is Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team). He's got 20 seconds on Rafal Majka (Saxo Tinkoff) and 23 seconds on his own teammate Ben Hermans.
Jackson Stewart, BMC director told Cyclingnews before the start, "I think with teams going for stage wins and our own team trying to control for the yellow jersey, we'll be able to control it. I don't think it's really a GC day, and if it is, it will only be a couple of seconds. That's my opinion. But maybe the weather gets worse, and maybe some teams really throw down on Hoosier Pass and the descent and change things. But on paper I don't think it's a GC day. The break made it last year, so yeah, I don't see a big change in the GC."
Stewart also said, "The team is really confident. Yesterday was the day we were actually worried about, and a lot of teams did a lot of work. It was easier to control than we thought on that circuit. We didn't spend any bullets yesterday, which I thought was really good. I thought we'd have to spend a few yesterday. Today is only 167km or whatnot. It shouldn't be too bad. But let's hope the weather holds out."
The field is back together again. There have been small attacks going, but nothing sticking so far. Rain is picking up and the riders are putting jackets. They just passed Sherwood Forest, but there was no sign of Robin and his merry men.
So far, no break has stuck. There are currently seven riders with a very slight advantage over the rest. They're on a beautiful road with a lot of red rock formations and giant boulders alongside it.
We've got IDs on eight riders who are in a break with a 10-second advantage as the riders head toward Lake George:
Tiago Machado (Por) Team Netapp-Endura
Daniel Summerhill (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
Eric Marcotte (USA) Team SmartStop
Tyler Magner (USA) Hincapie Sportswear Development
Dion Smith (NZl) Hincapie Sportswear Development
Luis Romero Amaran (Cub) Jamis-Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home
Steve Fisher (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
Gregory Daniel (USA) Bissell Development Team
Optum is leading the chase as the riders turn off a major highway and onto Colorado Route 77, a twisting road heading up into the mountains. One Optum rider is trying to bridge up. They don't want to be left out of this move.
UHC rider Chris Jones shared his thoughts with us before today's stage. "There's a good chance for a breakaway today. I was in the break last year. There were like 10 of us, and it broke up on Hoosier Pass. Then two guys stayed away. Today is a good day for a repeat," he predicted.
However, it looks like this initial break wasn't meant to be. The riders are not cooperating enough to pull it off and they are about to get caught by the peloton.
Reports from the finish are of miserable conditions: 48-50 degrees F and raining on and off.
Novo Nordisk's David Lozano Riba is the first abandon of the day. There might be more considering this weather.
Laura here, taking over the live coverage. It's a lovely day at the finish in Breckenridge - light rain and maybe 50 degrees F. By lovely, I mean, awful. The descent from Hoosier Pass will be dicey.
Two riders now have a slight advantage, but a breakaway is going to need to be bigger if it's going to survive across the windswept plateau. They're heading through cattle country, and have to negotiate a series of these bumpy cattleguards that are meant to keep the beasts from wandering off their ranch. Look out for bottles bouncing out of cages!
It was an amazing trip from the start to the finish today. From Fairplay, the riders will have a difficult 41km to the finish, over the Hoosier Pass. There is a part of the road that has partially collapsed with about 26km to go, but they'll be going uphill so it won't be much of a hazard.
We have another group of riders trying to get off the front, but they've only got a few seconds. Meanwhile, Travis McCabe (Smartstop) has reportedly abandoned the race.
That group wasn't able to break the grasp of the peloton. The riders are nearing the top of a long, gradual rise, and will get some respite on a short descent before grinding along the plateau, ever so slowly climbing.
The peloton is passing through the Pike National Forest. Established in 1906, the 1,106,604 acres of Pike National Forest lies in six different counties of Colorado. It includes Mount Evans, which soars up to 14,264 feet in elevation.
According to Team Smartstop, there is a breakaway that escaped a while back while the peloton stopped for a nature break and let it go. Laurent Didier (Trek), Janier Acevedo and Ben King (Garmin) Salerno (Cannondale), Jose Pimenta (NetApp) and Jai Crawford (Drapac) are reportedly in the move. Race radio isn't reaching us at the moment to confirm.
Acevedo won a stage in last year's USA Pro Challenge on the stage to Beaver Creek, and will be looking to further demonstrate that he can still climb like that rider.
We're now getting word that the breakaway comprises Janier Acevedo and Ben King (Garmin-Sharp), Laurent Didier (Trek), Cristiano Salerno (Cannondale), Jose Pimenta (NetApp-Endura), Jai Crawford (Drapac), Chris Butler and Robin Carpenter (Hincapie), Rob Britton (Smarstop), Richard Handley (Rapha-Condor), Daniel Eaton (Bissell) Luis Lemus (Jelly Belly) and Scott Zwizanski (Optum) - they have 3:30 with about 70km ridden.
It looks like Garmin might be switching their focus to stage wins, considering that Danielson has lost 34 seconds to Van Garderen, and is unlikely to get that back in the time trial.
Acevedo is a good candidate, and is 12 minutes down on GC so there's no reason to chase him down.
There are some other good climbers in the breakaway: Rob Britton is 19:16 down and could be a stage win candidate.
Of course there's Robin Carpenter, the Hincapie rider who escaped on the stage to Crested Butte. He'll be marked this time.
Laurent Didier (Trek) is a strong climber, as is Jai Crawford (Drapac).
The breakaway is enjoying 4:10 on the field as they head toward the only feed zone of the day.
The peloton has now crossed the last of the cattle guards, and have picked up their lunch. They're on a very fast average speed today - pushing over the 28mph mark.
The route today might be "flat"-ish, but it's by no means easy. They're averaging 29mph, aided in part by the wind, but it's cold and rainy, and just not a fun day on the bike.
The leader are being pounded by rain at the moment as they head toward the only sprint point of today in Fairplay. The leaders are on a cross-tailwind now that is helping keep the speed high. Once they take the left turn on 285, that will turn to a cross-headwind.
Correction, now that we've gotten contact with Media 1, Robin Carpenter is not in that breakaway, it's only Butler from the Hincapie team. They've got 5:20 on the peloton.
In addition to the rain making life difficult for the riders, the elevation is ticking along at 9450ft above sea level.
The leaders are through the town of Jefferson, and there's an enthusiastic crowd out to watch the race go by. The new gap is 4:20.
The wind that had been at the riders' backs is now in their left ear after taking that turn on 285. They'll have to deal with the crosswind until the right turn at Fairplay, where they head north on CO 9 to Breckenridge via the Hoosier Pass.
If the conditions stay the same as they have, things aren't looking so good for Tom Danielson. Last year, on the stage to Beaver Creek, Danielson lost time on a similarly wet, technical descent.
The drop from Hoosier Pass is very similar to that of the Bachelor Gulch, and is frought with tight, steeply pitched downhill turns until the road levels off somewhat at Blue River with about 15km to go.
This stage offers a little bit more opportunity to chase back on after the descent than the Beaver Creek stage did, however.
The peloton has been slowed down a little by a mass nature break and clothing change. It's still pounding an icy cold rain down on the race.
The 12 leaders have about 15km to go before the intermediate sprint in Fairplay. They'll be taking a right turn just before the sprint, and will start climbing nearly immediately.
There's a nice bike path heading north on Colorado 9 paralleling the road, and we saw one of the Hincapie brothers riding up this morning, we think it was Rich, not George.
The rain is pounding down on the bunch now, they've got 4:30 on the field.
Luckily for the breakaway, the rain is letting up, but it is still cold, and their wet kits won't make them feel much better. It will be hard to climb with frozen limbs.
We can confirm that there is but one Hincapie rider in the breakaway, and it's Chris Butler, not Robin Carpenter.
They're about 8km away from the intermediate sprint now, thankfully the rain is letting up.
Fairplay was established during the gold rush in 1859, its population is only in the hundreds, but it's a big city compared to the wild west that surrounds it.
We're 119km into the stage today, and the road is so long, and so straight that the field can see the breakaway off in the distance, even though the 12 riders are four minutes ahead of them.
As has been the case all week, there are Voigt fans along the route. Some Germans are up on the climb ahead to cheer him on.
The leader have climbed up and over Red Hill pas, and are on their way down into Fairplay.
There is still snow on the peaks ahead that rise up above the 14,000ft mark, but luckily none is falling on the peloton. Even the rain has been reduced to just a few drops now.
The breakaway has entered Fairplay, and are just meters from the sprint. The Hincapie car took the opportunity to pull into a convenience store, but they were quickly back in the race.
On the sprint in Fairplay, Luis Lemus led the breakaway across the line with Jai Crawford and Richard Handley behind.
The temperature is climbing just a little bit, all of 54 degrees now, and drier.
The riders are not having an easy day. Although the breakaway has 4 minutes with just 41km to go, they could stay away. But behind the peloton there is a 10-rider gruppetto that is losing ground.
The peloton is feeling good now that the roads are drying out and even the sun is trying to break through the clouds. They've closed down the gap to 3:40.
BMC is setting the pace, as they have been all day. They've kept this breakaway on a manageable leash, and could chase them down if they really want to on this climb.
The race has passed by what is touting itself as America's 9th highest bar. No time to stop for a drink, however, or whatever else is making them so high... The race is on!
The breakaway is still together, and they're about to head up the climb to Hoosier Pass.
Whoops, just as we typed that three riders attacked.
They're on the climb proper now, and there are hundreds of fans on the top who have been freezing all morning waiting for their arrival. They'll be putting on a good show for the riders, and vice versa.
The roads are dry at the finish, and that bodes well for the descent from the Hoosier Pass. It also favors the breakaway, who will be able to fly down, no brakes.
The gap is down to 3:10, and we are hearing the roads are actually still wet on the descent. Let's hope everyone stays safe. There are several very tight bends, and one that is a perfect S.
We are hearing that both the breakaway and the peloton are coming apart on the climb to Hoosier Pass.
The climb isn't particularly steep - it's only averaging 5%, but after four hard days of racing and a day spent freezing, it will do some damage. It looks like three riders are trailing in the breakaway, but they haven't lost contact completely.
The breakaway passes the section of road that has collapsed, and they get through it fine. There are three riders with a significant gap on the rest of the breakaway now. No numbers yet. Bets it's Acevedo, Didier and ??
The leaders pass the top of the Hoosier Pass, and now have to make their way down the tricky descent.
We had a brief view of Laurent Didier on the descent, we think that he's out front alone, being chased by three.
Acevedo is in second going after Didier.
The peloton has split off 11 riders who are in pursuit of the breakaway - they're 2:30 down on Didier at the moment.
We are seeing a chase just behind Didier, but have zero information regarding the composition of it. We saw Acevedo with a slight advantage on two others, but the weather is making for havoc, information-wise.
The results of the KOM are Didier, Acevedo, King, Britton, Mendes, Butler and Salerno, so that's who is left at the front of the race.
Van Garderen is in a group of 11 that is chasing behind, at 2:30
Didier is being joined by three riders, looks like Acevedo and King, and Rob Britton are there.
The four riders have come together on the long gradual descent to Breckenridge, but they still have the last climb over Boreas Pass, only a category 3, to contend with.
Britton leads the group, but Acevedo and King pull through. Didier is taking a break from pulling.
The leaders will come through the center of Breckenridge, but rather than head to the finish line, they'll turn and go out and up Boreas Pass, then come back for the sprint to the finish.
10km to go, and the four now have the cooperation of Didier, who has recovered from his attack at the top of Hoosier Pass.
They're in town, and are getting the cheers of the huge crowds lined up along the route.
The peloton behind is coming back together, the 11-riders of the yellow jersey group are being joined by more from behind.
UP ahead, Ben King is pushing the pace, while five riders chase behind: Salerno, Eaton, Lemus, Butler and one more.
King is now getting an advantage from the other three riders, but we suspect he's trying to set up Acevedo.
The peloton behind with Van Garderen has indeed ballooned.
The team cars are getting in the way as riders are chasing back through this chaos to get back into the yellow jersey group. It looks like Ben Hermans is having to chase, together with Stetina.
The yellow jersey group is now 2:20 behind King, but there's no concern for Van Garderen's overall lead.
King has been caught and Didier counters on the Boreas Pass.
We have an attack in the yellow jersey group, but they're 2:10 behind. Three riders are going away with Van Garderen, one is Serghei Tvetcov
Two kilometers to go, and Didier has an advantage that looks pretty solid.
The race leader is at 3km to go, but we have King, Acevedo and Britton chasing behind Didier, coming into the 1km to go point.
Britton is chasing like a bat out of hell, but he has the Garmin rider with him. They're not going to catch Didier! The Luxembourger gets it.
It was Didier, then Acevedo and Britton in the top 3. King is next Here comes the other breakaway riders - a rider in neon comes in for 5th.
Van Garderen keeps his lead, getting more time on Danielson. Hermans looks to have lost a bit of time.
Thanks for reading, despite the difficulties today. Check back tomorrow for the Vail time trial.