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USA Pro Challenge 2014: Stage 4

 Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 4 of the USA Pro Challenge. Today, the peloton will compete in a circuit race, totaling 113km, in Colorado Springs.

And the peloton has started the 6.5km neutral zone to kick off stage 4 in Colorado Springs.

 

The weather has taken a complete turnaround since the miserable and rainy stage 2 from Aspen to Crested Butte. The peloton welcomes the sunny, warm and slightly breezy conditions today.

It's a relatively short stage at 113km, and the peloton will complete four laps of a circuit, which is routed through the Garden of the Gods where there is a short but steep climb with sections that are 17 per cent. There are mountain points available at the top of each climb.

 

There are also sprint points available at the start of the second and third laps through the start-finish line in Colorado Springs, and at the finish of the race.

 

Most of the riders and teams that Cyclingnews has spoken with this morning have said that today’s stage will likely come down to a sprint, mainly because some teams haven’t gotten anything this week and will be looking for a stage win.

 

In addition, UnitedHealthcare’s stage 1 winner Kiel Reijnen is leading the sprint competition and his team will be helping him get some of those finishing points today.

 

And the race has officially started.

 

The kids from Gold Camp Elementary are out in force chanting "U-S-A. Home of the Cougars."

 

The field is racing at about 56km/h. Seven riders have a slight advantage. Let's see if a breakaway goes earlier today.

 

The group out front has increased to 14 riders.

 

Jonas Carney, Optum’s director, believes that today’s course will make it hard to chase a breakaway back, so he doesn’t think that a breakaway will gain too much time today. Perhaps his team will be looking to place well in a bunch sprint.

 

He also spoke highly of his rider Alex Candelario saying that, “he has made his career out of being a great teammate and he will continue that here this week by giving everything for the team.”

 

The front group has about 15 seconds on the field and it is reshuffling.

 

Jelly Belly's Serghei Tvetcov, who is fifth overall, told Cyclingnews' Pat Malach that he thinks today's stage will come down to a bunch sprint, from a reduced peloton. He said the sprinters are motivated because they haven't really had their day yet.

 

Today could certainly be a day for the sprinters.

 

There are 11 riders that have cleared the peloton with a 20-second gap. This front group includes Jens Voigt (Trek Factory).

 

The 12 riders in the group now have 1:35 minutes and include:

Jens Voigt (Trek Factory Racing)

Laurent Didier (Trek Factory)

Gregor Muhlberger (NetApp-Endura)

Ruben Zepuntke (Bissell Development)

Rob Britton (SmartStop)

Oscar Clark (Hincapie Sportswear Development)

Toms Skujins (Hincapie Sportswear Development)

Steve Fisher (Jelly Belly)

Ben Jacques-Maynes (Jamis)

Adam Phelan (Drapac)

Danny Summerhill (UnitedHealthcare)

Martijn Verschoor (Novo Nordisk)

 

 

 

 

Part of the course is on a four-lane road that is divided by traffic markers. Riders will use either side as they are coming and going on the course. 

 

Race officials are now allowing the team cars to come up to the breakaway.

 

The breakaway is gaining time quickly, now at 2:15 minutes.

 

BMC is setting tempo from the field.

 

To recap, here is the top 10 in the overall classification:

 

1 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 10:34:53
2 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:20
3 Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:23
4 Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Sharp 0:00:34
5 Serghei Tvetcov (Rou) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 0:00:37
6 Matthew Busche (USA) Trek Factory Racing 0:00:46
7 Carter Jones (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 0:00:49
8 Joseph Rosskopf (USA) Hincapie Sportswear Development 0:00:55
9 Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team Netapp-Endura 0:01:09
10 Julian Kyer (USA) Team SmartStop 0:01:22

 

Jamis rider Ben Jacques-Maynes is in the breakaway and he is currently tied for second place with Ben Hermans (BMC) in the mountain competition, both have 23 points. He will no doubt be trying to get some additional points to catch up to Tejay van Garderen (BMC), who is leading the overall race and also the mountain category with 27 points.

There will be points available on the circuit’s climb through the Garden of the Gods.

 

Cyclingnews saw Jacques-Maynes rolling around at the start of the stage wearing his skin suit, which he had cut the long sleeve arms off of. He clearly looked like he was aiming to make the breakaway today.

 

Crash! Riders are down in the field. We hope that the riders are OK, and will have a status update on that for you as soon as we can.

RT @OrCyclingAction: Today's break http://t.co/puZV1wy0tF

@HincapieDevo Thu, 21st Aug 2014 20:29:04

The breakaway has gained an advantage of 3:40

 

Breakaway rider Ben Jacques-Maynes picked up first-place points over the first KOM through the Garden of the Gods. Jens Voigt was second and Danny Summerhill was third.

 

The riders involved in the crash in the field earlier were Joe Lewis (Hincapie Sportswear Development) and Javier Megias (Novo Nordisk).

 

There are some big crowds in Colorado Springs today, especially downtown near the start-finish area and through the Garden of the Gods.

 

Team SmartStop director Michael Creed is experiencing a bit of a homecoming and a chance to show off his squad in Colorado Springs today.

 

You can read Pat Malach's interview with Michael Creed here.

 

We have received word that both Lewis and Megias are back in the field after crashing earlier in the race.

 

And the breakaway is five kilometers from the second KOM through the Garden of the Gods. They are building their gap to four minutes.

 

Bissell Development director, Omer Kem, said the word in the peloton was that Jens Voigt wanted a piece of this stage.

 

Kem said he thought that Voigt might wait and attack on the final climb, and ride to the finish. Although Voigt is currently in the breakaway, that could still happen.

 

He said the best way for BMC to control this stage is to make it really hard, especially the last time up the climb.

 

He also said the circuit is too hard for Cannondale's sprinter Viviani, so they may not ride the front. And he is expecting a bunch sprint from 40-60 riders.

 

Good crowds in Colorado Springs already on lap 1 of @USAProChallenge http://t.co/gPbxb738LT

@Laura_Weislo Thu, 21st Aug 2014 20:52:25

Summerhill took the points in the first intermediate sprint ahead of Zepuntke and Britton. Summerhill's UHC teammate Kiel Reijnen is leading the sprint classification.

 

The gap is down to 3:00 minutes. To recap, the breakaway riders are:

 

Jens Voigt (Trek Factory Racing)

Laurent Didier (Trek Factory)

Gregor Muhlberger (NetApp-Endura)

Ruben Zepuntke (Bissell Development)

Rob Britton (SmartStop)

Oscar Clark (Hincapie Sportswear Development)

Toms Skujins (Hincapie Sportswear Development)

Steve Fisher (Jelly Belly)

Ben Jacques-Maynes (Jamis)

Adam Phelan (Drapac)

Danny Summerhill (UnitedHealthcare)

Martijn Verschoor (Novo Nordisk)

 

Optum's Carter Jones, 7th overall and wearing the best Colorado rider jersey today said,


"If it's raced aggressively it could be a pretty brutal day. It's a very technical course, but that said, there aren't a lot of days for the field sprints, so there could be a lot of teams interested in keeping it together. It should be interesting after three hard days of racing."

 

Jacques-Maynes picked up the mountain points on the second time up the climb through the Garden of the Gods, again, ahead of Voigt and Summerhill.

 

Garmin-Sharp is currently setting a quick pace at the front of the field. Their rider Tom Danielson is sitting in fourth place overall. He told Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo before the start of the stage that Garmin would be willing to let a non-threatening breakaway go and that UnitedHealthcare and Cannondale would be the teams chasing it back. 
 

 

UnitedHealthcare is contributing to the chase, despite having its rider Summerhill in the breakaway. The team will likely want to try and win the stage with its sprint classification leader and stage 1 winner, Kiel Reijnen.

 

 

 

The breakaway is holding on to a gap of 2:25

 

After picking up full points on the first two KOM climbs, Jacques-Maynes is now four points ahead of Tejay van Garderen (BMC) in the mountain competition.

 

Charly Wegelius, Garmin director, told Cyclingnews' Pat Malach this morning,


"I drive the course this morning, and I think if it makes a selection it will be due to the racing, not the course itself. The road at the top there, it's not a wide American road, but it's not narrow by our standards. So you have to wait a little bit and see what some of the teams are going to do as far as controlling the race. If that control isn't there, then anything can happen. Garmin-Sharp always races in an interesting way, so I think we'll be able to do that again today.”

 

 

49km remaining from 113km

The breakaway is still working well together, and it's a bit surprising that Skujins is in here. His team director Thomas Craven said he suffers in the heat, and it's quite warm. He prefers the cold rain like they had in Crested Butte and Tour de Beauce, where he had great success.

Summerhill leads the breakaway through the sprint point.

 

Danny Summerhill is riding really well this week despite having a bit of a lingering illness from his time in China last month. Don't be surprised to see his UHC team leading the peloton - they're really interested in keeping Reijnen in the green jersey, and will want to do like they did in Aspen and get rid of Elia Viviani (Cannondale) and other fast sprinters, to help Reijnen's chances of getting points at the finish.

Sprint 2: 

1. Danny Summerhill (UHC)
2. Toms Skujins (Hincapie)
3. Rubens Zepunkte (Bissell)

It's nice to see Zepunkte in the breakaway with Voigt. The young German had very nice things to say about his older compatriot, who is retiring on Sunday. Voigt has been a positive role model for German cyclists, much better than the ones who have sullied the sport with doping and turned the public off of cycling.

Caleb Fairly, a Colorado Springs native, is currently leading the peloton for Garmin Sharp, getting lots of cheers from his home town crowd. Up front, Ben Jacques-Maynes is driving the pace in the breakaway on the climb.

UnitedHealthcare has put its climber Issac Bolivar on the front to control the gap to the leaders.

Jens Voigt attacks the breakaway and is followed by Jacques Maynes, who has enough gas to come around the German for the max points at the top of the third KOM. He's got a good lead in the competition now.

The riders may be at only 7,000 feet in elevation, but they might feel a little higher as there is some of Colorado's finest marijuana wafting in the air. Jens Voigt feels pretty good after getting a whiff and keeps his attack going. Let's hope he doesn't test positive at anti-doping.

KOM 3: 

1. Ben Jacques-Maynes
2. Jens Voigt
3. Ruben Zepunkte
4. Rob Britton.

Verschoor has been distanced by Voigt's attack.

39km remaining from 113km

Jens Voigt now has 20 seconds on the chasing 10 riders, with Verschoor behind a bit more, and the peloton now at 2:00.

We're afraid that with 39km to go it will be a tall order to keep the field at bay, even for Jens Voigt.

Jens is hammering along on the way back into Colorado Springs, just manhandling his Trek with all of his might.

Have you ever wondered how the judges calculate the results for all of these UCI races? We've got a really interesting video detailing their thankless task here.

Jens Voigt has stretched his advantage on the long descent to Colorado Springs to a huge 55 second gap on the other guys in the breakaway. He'll see one lap to go when he goes through the line.

Verschoor has been caught by the chasing peloton, where leader Tejay van Garderen is looking pretty relaxed and focussed behind his BMC teammates. Voigt, on the other hand, is riding like a man wrestling a bear.

The fans in Colorado have been swarming Jens Voigt at each start and finish, and he's had media interview after media interview all week. He's been working at an equally relentless pace on and off the bike. This breakaway might actually be easier than all the rest of his day!

29km remaining from 113km

Cannondale has started to throw some weight behind the chase. They know that they have to work hard if Voigt is out front. The gap had gone out from the peloton to 2:50, but expect that to start falling again as Ted King takes the reins.

The breakaway has gone out to 1:10 behind Voigt, but they're continuing to try to stay out front. There will be no points for the sprint competition this time through the line in Colorado Springs.

Voigt is in sight of the line, one to go and 25km, but he still has to do that awful climb around the Garden of the Gods.

Voigt's director Kim Andersen pulls up alongside him to offer encouragement.

Voigt gets out of the saddle to get some momentum on a small descent, then gets down in a deep aero tuck.

The breakaway is losing ground, now at 1:20, while the peloton is at 2:30 and looking like they might be giving Voigt a little bit of a retirement gift.

Cannondale and Optum are two teams that won't be on Voigt's thank you card list, they're hammering on the front of the peloton behind, closing down the advantage to 2:20.

Garmin is now patrolling the front, with BMC moving up as they head toward the climb, which crests with 17km to go.

Voigt's mouth is in a rictus of agony as he hammers away, clicking off the kilometers at a furious pace. The peloton is lined out behind him at 2:10, while the breakaway is still holding at 1:25.

It looks like the breakaway will manage to hold off the field at least to the top of this climb, where Ben Jacques-Maynes will certainly want to attack to get the three points on offer behind Voigt.

The fans on the climb are going nuts for Voigt as he hammers up toward the top of the climb that's dotted with red rock columns.

SHUT UP LEGS the sign says. We're sure that Jensie's brain is saying just that, because his legs must be really mad at him right now, saying "just retire Jens".

17km remaining from 113km

Voigt goes over the top and gives his legs a chance to feel better about their lot in life.

UnitedHealthcare pulls the peloton along as a gigantic pink wookie almost gets in the way of the bunch behind.

16km remaining from 113km

The breakaway was caught, but we aren't sure if it was before the KOM or not, but Voigt has the most aggressive rider award for the day. The peloton is now only 1:10 behind thanks to the work of UHC and Cannondale.

Rob Britton (Jamis-Hagens Berman) is solo chasing after Voigt, so we wonder if everyone has been caught from that breakaway.

It's hard to assess the race situation fully on a fast descent like this. Voigt is down on his top tube, descending as fast as he can.

Tinkoff-Saxo has come to the front in the peloton now.

Optum is also near the front, and we're sad to hear that Alex Candelario has decided to retire after Tour of Alberta. We hope that we can see Voigt, Candelario and Jeff Louder on the podium today as the retirees.

12km remaining from 113km

Britton is caught as Cannondale puts the hammer down with Garmin, Tinkoff, BMC, all behind.

10km remaining from 113km

Coming into the 10km to go point Voigt has just over a minute, it's going to be very, very close.

The ride that we're seeing from Voigt is a beautiful example of the passion that all of the professional riders feel for their sport, the kind that makes you slay yourself and to suffer endless agony all for one chance at glory. Few riders can demonstrate that like Voigt has done all throughout his career.

Trek has come to the front of the chasing peloton to try to disrupt the pace making. It seems to be working as the peloton is bunching up. UnitedHealtcare comes forward and is heavily marked by Trek.

7km remaining from 113km

55 seconds with 7.7km to go and Optum is on the front of the chase now. The Continental teams don't have to give any gifts to Voigt, but the WorldTour teams dont' seem to be interested in chasing.

6km remaining from 113km

Voigt has a minute now and they aren't going to close this gap down at this rate. BMC is at the front keeping Optum from really chasing Voigt down. It's Mike Friedman who has the dubious honor of being the man to have to try to chase.

5km remaining from 113km

Kim Anderson draws alongside to tell Voigt that his move is going to work. The back of his shorts says "One last time". We're pretty sure that this will actually be Voigt's last breakaway.

Cannondale comes by and it's Tom Zirbel and Hincapie's Oscar Clark pulling, with Cannondale set to take over. 5km to go and he's got 35 seconds.

It's youth and enthusiasm vs. old age and treachery. Voigt is heading into the 4km to go point, and he's still holding 30 seconds.

Voigt has to go over the highway and the small climb must be causing him unimaginable pain, but he doesn't care. This is the last time he'll have to do this to himself.

25 seconds for Voigt as he heads past 3.5km to go and it's going to be a storybook ending. Who wants to be the guy who chased down the fan favorite? They'd be assaulted at the finish!

UnitedHealthcare has no gifts in store for Voigt, and they've hammered back another 5 seconds. 20s with 2.8km to go.

The Hincapie Sportswear team is on the front, 2km to go for Voigt but only 20 seconds.

Voigt has a little downhill and he uses it, 1.5km to go and then up a small rise. He's fighting his bike, his legs, his heart and lungs.

The peloton can see Voigt, they're lining up the sprint and it's just 1km to go.

Oh no! They caught him! 

900 m to go and he's done, Smartstop gets the lead-out, it's Hincapie and Novo Nordisk at the front.

Reijnen goes and it's Viviani going for it.

Viviani continues his victory salute all around the block, he's thrilled to get this win after suffering like a dog on the mountains.

Van Garderen gets to keep that yellow jersey today, while Ben Jacques-Maynes will get the mountains jersey back.

Tvetcov was up there in the sprint in third place, with a BMC rider, Kohler in second. Reijnen will keep the blue sprint jersey after taking 5th.

Here's the top 10 for today:

1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale
2 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team
3 Serghei Tvetcov (Rom) Jelly Belly
4 Ty Magner (USA) Hincapie
5 Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare
6 Jure Kocjan (Slo) Smartstop
7 Alex Howes (USA) Garmin Sharp
8 Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Drapac
9 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC
10 Ryan Anderson (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies

The GC after stage 4

General classification after stage 4

1 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
2 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo
3 Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team
4 Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Sharp
5 Serghei Tvetcov (Rou) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
6 Matthew Busche (USA) Trek Factory Racing
7 Carter Jones (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
8 Joseph Rosskopf (USA) Hincapie Sportswear Development
9 Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team Netapp-Endura
10 Julian Kyer (USA) Team SmartStop

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