On the slopes of Independence Pass Jens Voigt attacked out of an early breakaway and rode solo for 77 miles to take the win in stage 5 of the USA Pro Challenge. Tejay van Garderen (BMC) finished ahead of Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) and took back the yellow leader’s jersey.
“I was in the break and I thought I attack now and they’ll never catch me again. It was one of those moments like I heard a voice and said, ‘Go now!’”
With two category 3 climbs, long lonely roads, rain, and wind, Voigt remained confident.
“I was out there and it was good. A bit of rain, a bit of uphill, downhill, wind and whatever makes the race sticky and nasty is good for me and it paid off in the end.”
The weather was cool and overcast with the threat of rain as the peloton rolled out of Aspen for stage 5 of the USA Pro Challenge. The stage contained a category 1 and two category 3 climbs, finishing on the slopes of the Beaver Creek ski resort for a total of 97 miles.
Vande Velde’s ownership of the leader’s jersey was controversial. He was tied with BMC’s Tejay van Garderen on time and points (which are calculated from where the rider’s position on the stage).
In stage 3 Vande Velde finished in ninth and van Garderen in 12th, which gave the Garmin-Sharp rider enough points to take the yellow jersey. However, BMC lodged a protest stating that on the finish at Mt Crested Butte, van Garderen had a couple of seconds gap on Vande Velde. Instead they were given the same time. If the race commissaires had given van Garderen the time gap, the BMC rider would still be the race leader.
After three neutral laps in downtown Aspen, the peloton was set to tackle Independent Pass, the only category 1 climb of the day, however this time from the opposite direction that they climbed it the previous day.
“I’m going to be driving the bus today,” is how sprinter Fred Rodriguez described the stage to Cycling Illustrated. Meaning that with the climbs completed so far and three days of fast racing in the legs, this was not a day for the riders with fast twitch muscles.
The aggressive nature of the race continued almost immediately as a large group went away very early from the peloton. This break included Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan), Jesse Anthony (Optum), Andres Diaz Corrales (Exegy), Christopher Jones (UnitedHealthcare), Roman Kreuziger (Astana), Camilo Castiblanco (EPM-UNE), Craig Lewis (Champion Systems), Fabio Aru (Astana), Lachlan Morton (Garmin-Sharp), Matt Cooke (Exergy), Rubens Bertogliati (Team Type 1), Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare), Eduard Beltran (EPM-UNE), Carter Jones (Bissell), Ivan Santaromita (BMC), and Julian Kyer (Bissell).
By the time the riders had crested Independent Pass the break was split into a couple of groups. Off the front was Voigt with 77 miles still left in the stage.
The popular German rider got a lead of over five minutes on the main field and two minutes on a chase group. However, the weather took a turn for the worse as the rain started to fall.
Through the sprint line in Leadville at the 57 mile mark, Voigt’s lead started to drop.
With Voigt being so far out of contention for the overall there was no organized chase to bring the big German back. Also the power of Voigt was undeniable. Teammate Chris Horner said about Voigt’s impressive ability to ride, “That’s why they call him Jens ‘Fucking’ Voigt!”
With 15 miles to the finish in Beaver Creek and with over a six minutes lead, Voigt was untouchable. The gap was large enough he was able to ease up and enjoy the roar of the crowds as he crossed the finish line.
“I was nervous until one kilometer to go and my director said I had five minutes, and it looked pretty safe. So I slowed down to enjoy it, wave to the crowd, and soak up the emotions.”
Behind the sprint for the other spots on the podium was hectic. Van Garderen needed to finish just ahead of Vande Velde to take the jersey back.
Andreas Kloden took the uphill sprint for second and van Garderen finished third – enough to take yellow again.
At the end of the day van Garderen and Vande Velde were still tied on time. How much time did Vande Velde think he needed to overtake him on the final stage in Denver?
“Zero. If I’m like this I’m happy. Tejay is one of the strongest riders in the country, if not the world right now and we’re going head to head. There are a lot of strong guys here and if we keep it status quo I’ll be happy.”
Vande Velde isn’t the only competition for the yellow jersey. When van Garderen was asked who he thought was a rider who could be a threat he immediately answered.
“Levi. He’s in good shape and looking really fit, really lean,” said the yellow jersey wearer. “He doesn’t have the strongest team here, so my prediction is he goes all in on Boulder (stage 6). If he can get it on (the climb of) Flagstaff, he doesn’t need a team for the time trial.”
Stage 5 from Breckenridge to Colorado Springs is one, on paper, for the sprinters, so no change in leadership is expected.
|1||Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan||3:54:00|
|2||Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan||0:02:58|
|3||Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team|
|4||Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-Quickstep|
|5||Oliver Zaugg (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan|
|6||Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Sharp|
|7||Ivan Rovny (Rus) RusVelo|
|8||Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team|
|9||Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team|
|10||Ramiro Rincon Diaz (Col) EPM – Une||0:03:03|
|11||Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin – Sharp|
|12||Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale|
|13||Javier Eduardo Gomez Pineda (Col) EPM – Une|
|14||Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack-Nissan|
|15||Jakob Fuglsang (Den) RadioShack-Nissan|
|16||Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin – Sharp|
|17||Lucas Euser (USA) Spidertech Powered By C10|
|18||Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan||0:03:08|
|19||Gavin Mannion (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team|
|20||Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team|
|21||Benjamin Day (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team||0:03:11|
|22||Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1 – Sanofi|
|23||Michael Creed (USA) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies|
|24||Freddy Orlando Piamonte Rodriguez (Col) EPM – Une|
|25||Francisco Jarley Colorado Hernandez (Col) EPM – Une|
|1||Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team||17:34:18|
|2||Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin – Sharp|
|3||Ivan Rovny (Rus) RusVelo||0:00:06|
|4||Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-Quickstep||0:00:08|
|5||Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team||0:00:12|
|6||Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team|
|7||Ramiro Rincon Diaz (Col) EPM – Une||0:00:13|
|8||Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin – Sharp||0:00:15|
|9||Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale||0:00:17|
|10||Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan|
Images by Brian Hodes