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Live coverage

USA Pro Challenge 2014: Stage 5


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.

161km remaining from 168km

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.

149km remaining from 168km

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

134km remaining from 168km

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.

120km remaining from 168km

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.

Of course there's Robin Carpenter, the Hincapie rider who escaped on the stage to Crested Butte. He'll be marked this time.

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 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 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.

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.

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.

49km remaining from 168km

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.

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.

41km remaining from 168km

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. 

29km remaining from 168km

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.

20km remaining from 168km

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.

Didier is being joined by three riders, looks like Acevedo and King, and Rob Britton are there.

12km remaining from 168km

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 remaining from 168km

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.

King is now getting an advantage from the other three riders, but we suspect he's trying to set up Acevedo.

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

2km remaining from 168km

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.

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