After a break of 23 riders was gradually reduced and then eliminated the peloton roared into the sleepy ski town of Telluride. The last kilometer was paperclip shaped with the final corner 250 meters from the finish line in downtown. Punching it past UnitedHealthcare’s Rory Sutherland, Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) easily took the stage win as well as the yellow leader’s jersey.
This was Farrar’s first big American race since 2009, but it looked like he hasn’t skipped a beat.
“It’s special, as an American, to come race big races in your own country and have fans that are cheering just for us,” said the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge race leader.
“For our team obviously, racing in Colorado is hugely important so it’s a nice bonus for us.”
Stage 1 was an interesting way to start a stage race. Typically the opening day is a prologue or a day for the sprinters. Instead the riders faced 125 miles that included the climb over Lizard’s Head. Topping out at an altitude of 10,222 the general consensus was a break was going to get away and stick.
It’s a stage that anything could happen,” said reigning US national professional road racing champion Timmy Duggan. “Without a summit or guaranteed sprint the riders make this race. The start is difficult and we’ll see who’s aggressive.”
Horner echoed those sentiments and thought that there would be 30 to 50 riders contesting the finish into Telluride with a couple of gaps. “I don’t think any of the favorites will be pushing it on the climb – it’s still too early and tomorrow is a summit finish, so why push hard today.”
Jens Voigt, who just prior to the start of the stage resigned with RadioShack-Nissan for another year, was optimistic of a break staying away and his own chances as well.
“Everyone has the freedom to go and they’re fresh and motivated” said Voigt just after he finished his pre-stage sign-in. When asked if that included him as someone who has freedom he was playing it coy, “If there’s a group of 40 to 50 guys going out, of course we’ll have one or two there. We’ll see how it goes.”
According to plan a group of 13 rolled off the front after the first sprint line – the first break of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Another group went off the front of the peloton and caught the breakaway, bringing the total to 22 which included, Suarz Beltran (UNE_EPM), Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), George Hincapie (BMC), George Bennett (RadioShack-Nissan), Tim Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale), Ryan Roth Spidertech – C10), David Morton (Garmin-Sharp), Valorio Agonoli (Liquigas-Cannondale) , Tanel Kangert (Astana), Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell), Andrew Bajadali (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), Mike Creed (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) , Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp), Peter Stetina(Garmin-Sharp), David Zabriskie (Garmin-Sharp), Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan), Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale), Ivan Rovny (RusVelo), and Eduard Beltran (EPM-UNE).
As the miles ticked down riders were dropped from the break including Zabriskie, violently throwing up while still pedaling. With just 20 miles to go there were just nine riders: Danielson, Hincapie, Stetina, Voigt, Velts, Nibali, Bajadali, Tvetcov, and Beltran.
With about 17 miles to Telluride Danielson bolted from the group, out of the saddle and looking strong.
It was no surprise that Danielson was in an aggressive mood. The man who calls Durango one of his hometowns told Cycling Illustrated that starting the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Durango was “euphoric” and he was feeling fantastic.
Danielson quickly gained a one minute lead. Behind the remaining chasing peloton had caught the rest of Danielson’s companions and was strung out in single file.
With 13 miles to the line Tommy D was caught by teammate Stetina, Nibali, and Beltran. Behind, the peloton was only 30 seconds back with BMC leading the chase.
With less than ten miles remaining UnitedHealthcare put a couple of riders to the front along with several EPM-UNE. However, the Colombian team wasn’t helping and was more monitoring the chase for their rider Beltran who was still off the front.
However, Beltran and Nibali couldn’t take the acceleration by Stetina who dragged teammate Danielson away with him. But with four miles remaining the Garmin-Sharp duo was caught by the peloton. Stetina was awarded for his effort accumulating enough points to put him into the red KOM jersey.
“I honestly thought we were going win but we were too light. We’ll try again tomorrow,” said Danielson.
A couple of surges strung out the remaining riders but nothing that could gain a significant gap. It was going to come to a select group of riders sprinting for the win. Indicating that perhaps his poor season was behind him, Farrar showed that he was once again a sprinter to be feared winning the stage.
1 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Sharp 4:42:48
2 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1 – Sanofi
3 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
4 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Team Exergy
5 Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
6 Gavin Mannion (USA) Bontrager Livestrong
7 Kiel Reijnen (USA) Team Type 1 – Sanofi
8 Alex Candelario (USA) Optum Pro Cycling
9 Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan
10 Camilo Castiblanco (Col) EPM UNE
· First Place – Tyler Farrar (USA) of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda
· Second Place – Alessandro Bazzana (ITA) of Team Type 1-SANOFI
· Third Place – Damiano Caruso (ITA) of Liquigas-Cannondale
· Exergy Leader Jersey – Tyler Farrar (USA) of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda
· Waste Management Sprint Jersey – Tyler Farrar (USA) of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda
· Nissan King of the Mountains Jersey – Tom Danielson (USA) of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda
· Aquadraat Best Young Rider Jersey – Gavin Mannion (USA ) of Bontrager Livestrong Team
· Evolve Most Aggressive Rider Jersey – Peter Stetina (USA) of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda