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USA Pro Challenge 2015: Stage 6


Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 2015 USA Pro Challenge stage 6 from Loveland to Fort Collins.

103km remaining from 165km

Welcome back to the USA Pro Challenge. We're 62km into stage 6 from Loveland to Fort Collins.

It was a breezy start in Loveland, and several riders had mechanical issues on the roll-out so the start was delayed a bit.

Unitedhealthcare kept the race together for the first two sprints to help secure the points jersey for Kiel Reijnen.

It wasn't until 52km into the race that a breakaway could get a gap, and it also included a UnitedHealthcare rider. Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo), Nathan Brown (Cannondale-Garmin), Daniel Summerhill (UnitedHealthcare) and Javier Megias (Novo Nordisk) settled in for the long haul, but there were three chasers who were ready to mix it up: three riders, Leonardo Basso (Trek), Dylan Girdlestone (Drapac) and Tom Zirbel (Optum) made it across and the gap blew out with the wind.

101km remaining from 165km

It's very unlikely anyone will be able to unseat the race leader Rohan Dennis, whose BMC team has been dominant this week. Dennis has 44 seconds on his teammate Brent Bookwalter, with the next best rider Rob Britton (Smartstop) at 1:31. It would be a big result for the Continental team if Britton could hold that place, but he has a couple challengers in Gavin Mannion and Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly) and best young rider Tao Geoghegan Hart (Axeon), within 30 seconds.

General classification after stage 5

1 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 17:42:14
2 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:44
3 Rob Britton (Can) Team SmartStop 0:01:31
4 Gavin Mannion (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 0:01:49
5 Lachlan David Morton (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 0:01:53
6 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Axeon Cycling Team 0:01:58
7 Lachlan Norris (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling 0:02:02
8 Toms Skujins (Lat) Hincapie Racing Team 0:02:08
9 Hugh Carthy (GBr) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:02:13
10 Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek Factory Racing 0:02:14

Mannion (4th at 1:49) told Cyclingnews' Ted Burns this morning that he hopes to move up the rankings.

"BMC has a fairly strong stranglehold on the first two places, there are some hard climbs and a pretty tough finish today so I think it's going to be a pretty hard race. Hopefully we will be able to maintain or move up on the GC."

BMC domestique extraordinaire Michael Schar is ready for a fast start to this stage. "It's going to be a tough start we have a lot of wind down here and the two climbs, I think people are going to try to attack to change something on the GC, but we are confident we are a strong team and we try to keep it together."

Dennis also held the green points jersey this morning, it is worn today by UHC's Kiel Reijnen. Dennis and Reijnen were tied at 27 points, with Bookwalter third with 24. UHC kept the race together for the first sprint in Windsor at km. 8.2 and the second in Loveland at km. 33.8 - Reijnen won both and is now 10 points ahead of Dennis in that competition.

Sprint 1 - Windsor, km. 8.2
1. Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare)
2. John Murphy (UnitedHealthcare)
3. Brent Bookwalter (BMC)

Sprint 2 - Loveland, km. 33.9
1. Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare)
2. John Murphy (UnitedHealthcare)
3. Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthcare)

The points classification now looks like this:

1 Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare 37 pts
2 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 27
3 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 25
4 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team 15
5 Ryan Anderson (Can) Optum  12
6 Logan Owen (USA) Axeon Cycling Team 12
7 Gavin Mannion (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 11
8 Phillip Gaimon (USA) Optum 10
9 Robbie Squire (USA) Hincapie Racing Team 10
10 Ruben Zepuntke (Ger) Cannondale-Garmin  10

Action shot breakaway over the top of Carter

@CwPearce Sat, 22nd Aug 2015 19:20:08

92km remaining from 165km

The wind is howling on the Front Range today, and BMC has the peloton in echelons, keeping the gap around three minutes.

In addition to his yellow and green jerseys, Dennis also leads the mountains classification with 35 points to Bookwalter's 31. Caja Rural trainee Kyle Murphy is third with 28, while Laurent Didier (Trek) has 21. There are a total of 22 points left in the race so the classification is still wide open.

1 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 35 pts
2 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 31
3 Kyle Murphy (USA) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 28
4 Laurent Didier (Lux) Trek Factory Racing 21
5 Robbie Squire (USA) Hincapie Racing Team 19
6 Will Routley (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 18
7 Jonathan Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling 18
8 Daniel Summerhill (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling 16
9 Lachlan David Morton (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 15
10 Carson Miller (USA) Jamis - Hagens Berman 14

None of the main mountains classification contenders made the breakaway, so we don't expect this to change.

85km remaining from 165km

The leaders have 5km to the feed zone. They'll start up the Rist Canyon climb at kilometer 103, then crest it 8.2km later.

80km remaining from 165km

The breakaway has made it to the feed zone and are getting some respite from the wind as they head deeper into the hills.

Our KOM challenger Kyle Murphy crashed back in the peloton but is up and riding. He had a mechanical because of it.

We hope the crash was innocent. On stage 4, Daniel Jaramillo was elbowed off the road into some spectators by Laurent Didier (Trek) and the Jamis rider crashed rather than hit the fans. It was an ugly piece of riding that earned the Luxembourg rider some criticism on the social media networks.

We've had two riders abandon - Peter Stetina (BMC) and Jack Bobridge (Budget Forklifts).

Stetina has been recovering from a bad broken leg earlier this year, he's been brave to soldier on this long.

Phillip Gaimon (Optum) also dropped out.

The feed zone is the best place to drop out of the race, because you get to climb into the van with all the food.

Update coming in from the women’s race: @k_armstrong @cosunshinemka, @TaylerWiles and @LaurenKomanski ahead w/ 10km left. #ProChallenge

@USAProChallenge Sat, 22nd Aug 2015 19:54:36

BMC has been having a banner week - after dominating at the USA Pro Challenge, they've won the TTT at the Vuelta a España.

Update from the women's race

@BMWHappyTooth Sat, 22nd Aug 2015 19:55:28

The race for the blue young rider's jersey is still open, with Geoghegan Hart only 15 seconds up on Hugh Carthy (Caja Rural).

1 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Axeon Cycling Team 17:44:12
2 Hugh Carthy (GBr) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:00:15
3 Jaime Roson (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA 0:00:35
4 Dion Smith (NZl) Hincapie Racing Team 0:01:13
5 Ruben Zepuntke (Ger) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:01:50

The gap is beginning to come down a tad in our breakaway.

69km remaining from 165km

Just a reminder of our breakaway:

Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo), Nathan Brown (Cannondale-Garmin), Daniel Summerhill (UnitedHealthcare), Javier Megias (Novo Nordisk), Leonardo Basso (Trek), Dylan Girdlestone (Drapac Professional), and Tom Zirbel (Optum) escaped after the second sprint today, UHC having kept it together for Reijnen.

Now, the seven riders are heading toward the Rist Canyon climb, while not technically on the climb itself the road isn't flat.

Smartstop is helping to set the pace in the peloton ahead of BMC as they gap holds at 3:50.

In the breakaway the seven riders are rotating smoothly, winding around the cliff walls of this canyon. A few fans appear here and there.

The peloton passes a 50km to go sign, but they shouldn't get too excited. That sign was for the women's race. They still ahve 62.5km to go.

Speaking of the women, Tayler Wiles won the stage to Fort Collins from that four-rider breakaway. Race leader Kristin Armstrong finished just behind to hold onto the jersey.

62km remaining from 165km

The leaders are out of the saddle heading up the climb before the climb. It flattens out up ahead before really kicking up.

Girdlestone takes the moment to grab a bottle from the Drapac car and some food.

I'm proud I was already strong enough to help my @BMCProTeam boys for 5 stages vs just be packfiller to finish. Bring it home @RohanDennis!

@peterstetina Sat, 22nd Aug 2015 20:15:34

The leaders are on the Rist Canyon climb proper now, holding only 3:32 on the bunch still being led by SmartStop's Julian Kyer.

.@TaylerWiles takes Stage 2 of the Women's USA Pro Challenge #ProChallenge

@USAProChallenge Sat, 22nd Aug 2015 20:18:49

56km remaining from 165km

The leaders are holding onto their lead as SmartStop picks up the pace on the lower slopes of the climb. 

Kreuziger is back at his team car having a chat with the DS.

It's flatter up here, but heading back up to the high altitude.

Today's stage tops out at 8008ft in elevation - but started and finishes around 5000ft where the breathing is far easier.

Jelly Belly are now helping with the chase.

None of the riders in the breakaway are threatening the GC. Kreuziger is the best placed at 15:07.

54km remaining from 165km

Summerhill is suffering on the climb, but it's almost over. 1km to go. He's a very good descender and can probably get back on.

Lachlan Morton has attacked the field.

Women's stage 2 results

1 Tayler Wiles (USA) Velocio - SRAM 2:29:38
2 Lauren Komanski (USA) Twenty 16 p/b Sho-Air 0:00:02
3 Kristin Armstrong (USA) Twenty 16 p/b Sho Air 0:00:04
4 Mara Abbott (USA) Amy D Foundation
5 Allie Dragoo (USA) Twenty 16 p/b Sho Air 0:01:27
6 Krista Doebel-Hickok (USA) Team Tibco-SVB
7 Lauren Hall (USA) Twenty 16 p/b Sho-Air
8 Coryn Rivera (USA) Unitedhealthcare Professional Cycling Team

General classification after stage 2

1 Kristin Armstrong (USA) Twenty 16 p/b Sho Air 2:51:02
2 Tayler Wiles (USA) Velocio - SRAM 0:00:31
3 Mara Abbott (USA) Amy D Foundation 0:00:51
4 Lauren Komanski (USA) Twenty 16 p/b Sho-Air 0:01:01
5 Allie Dragoo (USA) Twenty 16 p/b Sho Air 0:01:27

The gap to the peloton is down to just 1:50, and Morton is getting a good gap on the peloton.

Brown, Kreuziger and Basso have dropped Girdlestone, Leal and Zirbel.

Zirbel is out of the saddle trying to get back up to the leading trio, but he's not making any ground.

54km remaining from 165km

200m to go to the top and can see the dropped riders ahead.

If you recall, Morton attacked the descent of Independence Pass on stage 3, and used his aero style to bridge to Didier. He's got a bit more work to do here.

51km remaining from 165km

BMC has come to the front of the peloton and it's quite a bit smaller than it was as rider after rider gets tailed off.

Zirbel is using his mass to bridge across to the three leaders on the descent, and Morton is not quite full aero. 

Reportedly Summerhill crashed on the descent but got right back up.

It's six riders again at the front, with Summerhill somewhere back there and Morton chasing. The peloton is now 2:28 behind.

48km remaining from 165km

Morton went past Summerhill on the descent - the UHC rider's kit was all torn up. He was heading backwards.

Mountain 1 (Cat. 2) Rist Canyon, km. 111.2

1 Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo)
2 Nathan Brown (Cannondale-Garmin)
3 Leonardo Basso (Trek)
4 Tom Zirbel (Optum)
5 Javier Megias (Novo Nordisk)
6 Dylan Girdlestone (Drapac Professional)
7 Daniel Summerhill (UnitedHealthcare)

42km remaining from 165km

The descent was not quite enough for Morton - he's only got 43 seconds on the bunch and still 1:45 to the front of the race.

The leaders see a 20km to go sign but have to ignore it since that was for the women - they have twice that distance before the finish. Will this breakaway actually stick?

At the very least, Morton is enjoying blasting down the descent and he has quite a nice view of the canyon as he rides along.

Fans dot the road sides at the end of driveways, cheering on Morton as he hurtles down the road. But unfortunately the peloton is just 15 seconds behind him, and 2:15 from the six leaders.

Once down to Bellvue, there's a little kicker of a climb, and then they'll have some flat roads as they skirt Fort Collins before heading back out to a loop past the Horsetooth Reservoir. The road along the loop is quite up and down and should give the last-chance attackers an opportunity to try and foil the sprint.

One never quite knows the actual gaps when relying on the GPS, it's now saying Morton has a minute on the bunch and that seems more realistic.

The peloton is 3 minutes behind the leaders.

35km remaining from 165km

The six leaders are on that little kicker of a climb out of Bellvue but sticking together this time. They know they'll need to work together if they have a chance.

33km remaining from 165km

The six leaders continue to rotate together, keeping Morton at bay. Last check he was 2:20 behind them, and the peloton closing in on him.

It was a good chance to move up in the GC, but we're afraid it's unlikley he will hold off the peloton.

30km remaining from 165km

The crowds are getting bigger along the road as they head through the outskirts of Fort Collins. They'll retrace these same roads but then turn left on Mulberry and head into the finish after going around the Horsetooth Reservoir loop.

Morton is doing an amazing job to keep 40 seconds on the bunch, but we're fearful that he's going all in on a bluff.

25km remaining from 165km

Hold onto your seats because the road is about to get very bumpy, and our six leaders will be hard pressed to hold their 3:00 on the bunch. Morton is still at 50" ahead of the peloton.

Ooof it's a tough climb - but short. The six riders stay together up the cat 4 ascent.

22km remaining from 165km

Morton is about to be caught on the climb by the peloton, led by Hincapie and BMC. The gap to the leaders is around about 2 minutes and change.

Kreuziger leads the breakaway over the top of the climb, while behind Caja Rural goes for the mountain points.

It's Ferrari, but he's suffering and not getting a gap. This is a mighty tough little cat 4 climb. It seems cruel.

Axeon has come to the front of the peloton, 2:15 behind the leaders. Unitedhealthcare wants this break to stick so that Reijnen can keep that healthy 10 point lead in the points classification.

Rohan Dennis leads the peloton across the KOM as if to say - look, I'm in charge. We'll have no more monkey business.

18km remaining from 165km

18.8km to go and 2:10 to the breakaway, this one might just work! If it does, we think Brown might be a good bet for the stage win. He's a speedy rider from a breakaway.

The six leaders are beginning to believe in their chances, we think. Kreuziger is out of the saddle pushing the pace up another rise. It's all up and down until they finally get back into that false-flat descent to Fort Collins.

There are a lot of boats on the reservoir on a lovely summer day. Unitedhealthcare has come to the front of the bunch, and is it just holding the gap out there to keep the breakaway away? They're proving us wrong becuase they're clawing back a few seconds.

Morton the younger attacks again - he really wants to gain time on the GC and get the podium. But Smartstop might have something to say about that.

13km remaining from 165km

The gap is 1:50, and we wonder if the time boards aren't quite giving the right gaps. All of a sudden there's a vigorous surge and a bunch of horses sense the urgency and look as if they too want to bolt.

The leaders are on yet another rise, and out of the saddle. They're cheered along by a big group of people on the road side - luckily this time they're staying put.

The teams of the sprinters are taking a back seat, letting UHC do the work, but it's two riders against the six very motivated riders ahead. 1:41 still?

Axeon is sitting back, waiting for the road to level out before contributing to the chase. Just 11km to go still 1:36 - it's going to be very close.

Axeon is drilling it and have pulled back 10 seconds on the six leaders. They aren't panicking up front yet.

10km remaining from 165km

10km to go and 1:31 still - they peloton is making the turn onto 21C, still a few more km before the turn onto Mulberry.

The BMC riders are taking a back seat to the Axeon and UHC riders, but they're just two men doing the work. They're hardly catching the six riders - 1:25 still to go! I think the breakaway might just have this.

Kreuziger is chatting with the team car, holding on a bit too long and it might raise an objection from the race official.

Kreuziger and Basso are being cagey, sitting at the back. Leal and Brown pulling through.

Zirbel is a big engine in this breakaway but we sense he's saving some energy, he stands up and stretches his legs. Watch for the late attack from the Optum rider.

Still 1:15 with 6.5km to go.

6km remaining from 165km

Hincapie, Axeon and UHC are in control of the bunch making a late charge to claw back this 1:15.

Attacks are flying out of the peloton, with UHC wanting more speed. It's Brajkovic stringing them out.

5km remaining from 165km

Kreuziger attacks!

The gap is down to 1:00 and they'll need to get a move on. Brown bridges across. The two WorldTour riders are on the move.

Basso followed Brown but couldn't hold the wheel, and now it's up to Girdlestone to try and close the gap. The bunch are 50" behind.

The four chasers are making up ground on the two leaders, the peloton still too far back. This could be time for Zirbel to make a move.

3km remaining from 165km

They seem so close, but yet so far. They can see the two but just can't quite get to them.

Zirbel closes it down when he pulls through, but Basso opens up the gap. Left turn and 2km to go!

2km remaining from 165km

Leal swings off and looks around. They're playing too much cat and mouse and you can't do that with two class riders ahead.

1km remaining from 165km

The leaders can see the 1km to go banner.

The breakaway is going to stick, 45 seconds to the bunch. Can the four chasers get on terms?

Leal attacks!

It'd be amazing of Novo Nordisk could win. The team has struggled so much for a result.

They're getting caught, Leal opens it up.

Kreuziger opens a gap in the turn but makes a run at Leal.

Oh Kreuziger, he wins the stage and denies Leal an historic victory for his team.

1 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo
2 Javier Megias Leal (Esp) Team Novo Nordisk
3 Leonardo Basso (Ita) Trek Factory Racing
4 Dylan Girdlestone (RSA) Drapac
5 Tom Zirbel (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
6 Nathan Brown (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
7 John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
8 Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Jamis-Hagens Berman
9 Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
10 Logan Owen (USA) Axeon Cycling

We have to be gutted for Leal. The all-diabetic team overcomes real struggles every day for their sport. Kreuziger overcame his biological passport issues earlier this year and avoided a ban, but that pales in comparison with an autoimmune disease that affects you every moment of every day of your entire life.

General classification after stage 6

1 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team
2 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team
3 Rob Britton (Can) Team SmartStop
4 Gavin Mannion (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
5 Lachlan David Morton (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
6 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Axeon Cycling Team
7 Lachlan Norris (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling
8 Toms Skujins (Lat) Hincapie Racing Team
9 Hugh Carthy (GBr) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
10 Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek Factory Racing

The peloton comes through in dribs and drabs after the main bunch, seems the climb split out a few unfortunate fellows.

The top 10 of the GC remain the same going into tomorrow's final stage from Golden to Denver. It should be a sprint finish at the end of the short stage, and Dennis is unlikely to be threatened.

He gets yet another yellow jersey, looking pretty happy. He'll keep the mountains classification but lose the green jersey to Reijnen today.

Geoghegan Hart keeps best young rider, and BMC is deserving as best team.

Megias looks quite disappointed on the podium, wipes away what could be tears or just sweat.

Kreuziger gets a hipster fixed gear with blue rims as a prize from the Fort Collins folks. Not quite sure Specialized would want to see him riding it...

Thanks for reading. Join us again tomorrow at 1:10pm local time for the final stage.

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