Kristen Armstrong & Rohan Dennis, USA Pro Challenge 2015 winners

Kristin Armstrong wins inaugural edition of the Women’s Pro Challenge

Article and photo by Todd Hofert


The USA Pro Cycling Challenge wrapped up Sunday on the front lawn of the Capitol building in Denver Colorado. The men’s event, in its fifth edition, was joined this year by the inaugural edition of the Women’s Pro Challenge, a very welcome and complimentary addition to this ‘Tour of Colorado’.

Ladies First!

“Long overdue” has been the mantra for women cyclists and their fans, and 2015 has proven to be a watershed year for the advancement of women’s racing around the globe. Many prominent men’s races took advantage of the obvious opportunity to provide cycling fans more bang for their cycling-crazed buck by adding women’s racing to their agendas. And recently the UCI formed a Women’s World Tour starting in 2016, further solidifying the women’s position in the professional cycling peloton.

The USA Pro Challenge followed this advancement trend and provided a stellar foundation for the women to compete on. A three-stage event; a Stage 1 time trial preceding the men’s Stage 5 time trial on Friday in Breckenridge, a 93km road stage from Loveland to Fort Collins following many of the same roads as the Stage 6 men’s race that started fifteen minutes after the women rolled out and a Stage 3 criterium in Golden after the final stage of the men’s race got underway. Needless to say, the riders took full advantage of this opportunity and delivered world-class racing in return.

Sixty-six riders representing twelve teams would take the start for the Stage 1 Time Trial in Breckenridge. The course would follow the same 13.7km route the men would contest later in the day and included the steep slopes of Moonstone Road up to an elevation of 10,088’ and the fast descent of Boreas Pass taking the riders back into town for a tricky finish.

Kristen Armstrong (Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR), who turned 42 in the weeks leading up to the race, would demonstrate her rich and storied pedigree turning in a performance that would edge out her teammate, Allie Dragoo (Allie Oop) by the narrowest of margins. The official time gap between Armstrong and Dragoo was 12 one-hundredths of a second giving Kristen Armstrong the first ever Women’s Leaders Yellow Jersey.

Of Dragoo, Armstrong said, “I love the challenge that was presented today. I don’t look at Allie as losing to me. I look at Allie as an amazing talent coming up on the peloton”. Allie Oop was equally cordial and respectful of her teammates’ victory and the narrow margin, “I’m not going to let it eat me alive. I rode my best. It could have been a gust of wind. It could have been something so small. You never know what could have happened. All I can do is be proud of my self, and be happy for Kristin. It was a good ride.” The podium was rounded out by Amanda Miller(Visit Dallas) 24 seconds off the pace set by Armstrong and Dragoo.

The Stage 2 start line call-ups in Loveland included Kristen Armstrong (Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR), the race leader in the Smash Burger Yellow Jersey, Allie Dragoo(Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR) sporting the Lexus Sprint Classification Leaders Green Jersey, Abigail Mickey(United Healthcare Professional) wearing the Sierra Nevada QOM Leaders Red Jersey, Chloe Dygart(Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR) wearing the Colorado Tourism Best Young Rider Leaders Blue Jersey, Breanne Nalder(DNA Cycling) wearing the Strava Most Courageous Rider Orange Jersey and the rest of Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR as the leaders of the best team competition.

The heat and the wind were the two factors on everyone’s mind as the riders signed in and were introduced by the iconic voice and personality of Dave Towles. Strong and gusty tail and cross tailwinds negated any chances that a break would form early on and the wind would follow the riders west to the canyons where the QOM points would be contested. A split would finally form on the climb of Rist Canyon and four riders would stay clear spurred on by an aggressive and fearless descent.

The group was made up of Taylor Wiles (DNA Cycling) Lauren Komanski and Kristin Armstrong (Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR) and Mara Abbott (Amy D Foundation). Tyler Wiles would jump clear of the group and out-sprinted them to win the Stage in front of huge and enthusiastic crowds packing the downtown finish. “I knew I was going to have to play it pretty smart since there were two Twenty16 riders,” said Wiles. “Lauren Komanski had gone again with 500 meters to go, so I stuck on her wheel. Then I went with about 400 meters to go, which was pretty early. It was a long straight drag and I knew if I could get a jump and get a little on the downhill I could hold it.”

Adding to the electric atmosphere, cycling legend Connie Carpenter-Phinney was on hand to provide colorful PA commentary as a highlight to the festivities.

The successful long-range break would shake up the GC as well as the majority of the other points classifications. Kristen Armstrong would retain Yellow now followed by Taylor Wiles and Mara Abbott. Taylor Wiles stage win would wrest the Green Jersey from Allie Dragoo and Mara Abbott would claim the right to wear the Red QOM Jersey. Abigail Mickey would rightfully claim the jersey for the Best Young Rider, previously on loan from Allie Dragoo and the Most Courageous of the day would belong to Coryn Rivera(United Healthcare Professional). Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR would continue as the leader of the best team competition.

Golden Colorado played host to the Stage 3 start on Sunday and the town delivered a brilliant atmosphere as has come to be expected during its tenure as a host city. The women set out on a very technical 2.4km circuit that they would race for an hour. Barring catastrophe Kristen Armstrong’s 31-second grip on Yellow seemed unlikely to be threatened. At the end of the day, she would survive and only give back two seconds to her nearest rival, Taylor Wiles.

Coryn Rivera (United Healthcare Professional) would take the stage honors with an aggressive style coming through the final corner into the finish. Tyler Wiles and Mara Abbott would round out the day’s podium. On her victory, “It was a really fast finish,” said Rivera. “I had a feeling I wanted to be first out of the last corner as I know it was going to be fast and it was off camber. I wanted to take that risk without anyone near me. I took the last corner on my own and let it all out.”

With the overall win, Kristen Armstrong takes home a new Lexus and her name will forever be etched on the race as its first ever winner. Her sentiments echoed the sentiments of many in the cycling community. “This is the beginning of the new U.S. women’s cycling,” Armstrong said. “This is hopefully going to be contagious across the nation, across the world, because this is what we deserve.” Tyler Wiles (DNA Cycling) and Mara Abbott (Amy D Foundation) rounded out the final GC podium.

The final Jersey podium was as follows:

Kristin Armstrong(Twenty16-Sho p/b Sho Air) – Smashburger Race Leader Jersey.
Coryn Rivera(United Healthcare Professional) – Lexus Sprint Points Jersey.
Mara Abbott(Amy D. Foundation) – Sierra Nevada Queen of the Mountains Jersey.
Abigail Mickey(United Healthcare Professional) – The Colorado.com Best Young Rider Jersey
Amanda Miller(Visit Dallas p/b Noise4Good) – Strava Most Courageous Rider Jersey

Viewed as a success, Sean Petty, Women’s USA Pro Challenge Race Director said. “I looked up that hill today and saw the huge crowds in Golden and tears came to my eyes.” “A lot of hard work went into this from the communities Breckenridge, Fort Collins and Golden and they exceeded all of our expectations. Our goal is to continue to grow the race and make it bigger and better every year.”


Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Tejay Van Garderen, USA Pro Challenge 2014

USA Pro Challenge 2014

Cover: Tejay Van Garderen, USA Pro Challenge 2014
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


The USA Pro Challenge 2014 covered 550 miles over seven-stage race as it made its way from Aspen through the Colorado Rockies, ending in downtown Denver with Tejay Van Garderen taking top honors in the race.

Stage 1: Aspen Snowmass circuit

Starting and finishing on Main street, the 128 riders navigated three laps of the route that wound its way out of Aspen, up to Snowmass Village, and back into in the well-known ski town.

USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 1 start line
USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 1 start line Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The circuit included an intermediate sprint point in Aspen, a category 4 climb at Snowmass and another category 4 climb at McClain Flats, for a total of 2 intermediate sprints and 4 King of the Mountain points.

USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 1 breakaway
USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 1 breakaway Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Soon after leaving the neutral zone, Danny Summerhill (United Healthcare) attacked and was soon joined by Joshua Berry (Team SmartStop), Ben Jacques-Maynes & Matt Cooke (Jamis-Hagens Berman), Johnathan Freter & Luis Davila (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis), Greg Daniel (Bissell Development Team), and Lachlan Norris (Drapac Professional Cycling). Twenty kilometers into the race, the gap was 1 minute 30 seconds, with the sprinter teams keeping an eye on the eight escapees due to the shortness of the stage.

Cannondale, USA Pro Challenge 2014 stage 1
Cannondale, USA Pro Challenge 2014 stage 1 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

At the first crossing of the sprint point at the start/finish line, Summerhill took top points, Davila second and Daniel third. Norris took the maximum 4 points at the first KOM point at Snowmass, with Davila taking 3 points, and Jacques-Maynes was in third for 2 points.

At the McClain Flats KOM, Norris once again took top points, Jacques-Maynes crossed second and Cooke was third. As the group headed back to Aspen for the second sprint, Summerhill crossed first again, Freter second and Jacques-Maynes was third.

USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 1 sprint 2 Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 1 sprint 2 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Heading into the final lap, the peloton began to close in, with the time gap falling to 35 seconds. As they moved inside the last 25 kilometers, Jacques-Maynes attacked the break, causing Summerhill to drop off, then Freter.

Jacques-Maynes took top points at both of the remaining KOMs, securing the overall King of the Mountains lead. As the peloton absorbed the remainder of the break, Jacques-Maynes held out as the sole survivor until Jens Voigt (Trek Factory Racing) attacked, bridged to Jacques-Maynes,  and then forged ahead solo. With 3 km to go, as Voigt fell back to the main field, and Javier Megias (Team Novo Nordisk) attacked.

Kiel Reijnen wins USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 1
Kiel Reijnen wins USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 1 Photo: Greg K Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Kiel Reijnen (United Healthcare) and Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp) gave chase, passing Megias, then battling it out to the finish where Reijnen took the win.

“Being good friends with Alex, I know his strengths and weaknesses. This course suits both of us. The good thing about being friends is that you know you’re committed. I could think of no one else I would rather lose to than Alex. I’m really happy he was on the podium with me.”
– Kiel Reijnen, United Healthcare

Kiel Reijnen, USA Pro Challenge 2014
Kiel Reijnen, USA Pro Challenge 2014 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

“I myself am a victim of the high altitude. It was pretty relaxed for the first third of the race, but that last lap really heated it up and it was just full gas from there on. You see a lot of punch and lift from riders toward the end, and that’s not really something you see at this kind of altitude. It’s pretty exciting to see that out here.”
– Alex Howes, Garmin-Sharp

USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 1 podium, Kiel Reijnen, Alex Howes, Ben Hermans
USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 1 podium, Kiel Reijnen, Alex Howes, Ben Hermans Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

“Some guys who were with me to chase back the front guys lost my wheel in the corner, so I was alone – about 20 or 30 meters from the first two guy. I came very close in the last corner to start the sprint, but I was completely blocked. At altitude, it is difficult to recover in one or two corners. So I could not sprint anymore.”
– Ben Hermans, BMC Racing Team

Reijnen will start stage 2 in the yellow leader’s jersey with no time gap over Howes and 3 seconds ahead of Hermans.

Stage 2: Aspen to Mt Crested Butte

USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 2, Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, Clement Chevrier, Danny Summerhill, Kiel Reijnen, Alex Howes
USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 2, Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, Clement Chevrier, Danny Summerhill, Kiel Reijnen, Alex Howes Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The riders took the line in Aspen, Colorado under cloudy skies and with rain in the forecast, facing a 105 mile / 169 km ride to Mt Crested Butte that would take them over the 8700 ft / 2651 m McClure Pass, through 22 miles of dirt roads, over 9900 ft / 3017 m Kebler Pass, down in to Crested Butte, and up to the finish at Mt Crested Butte.

USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 2
USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 2 Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Four riders were not at the start: Fred Rodriguez (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis) and Graham Briggs (Rapha Condor-JLT), who both abandoned during stage 1, and Kevin De Mesmaeker (Team Novo Nordisk) and Joshua Berry (Team Smartstop), who did not start stage 2.

Aspen, USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 2
Aspen, USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 2 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Medi

The stage began with a three-mile neutral ride through the streets of Aspen, and then headed down valley to the first sprint point in Basalt, 17 miles into the stage.

Aspen, USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 2
Aspen, USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 2 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

At the Basalt sprint point, Tyler Magner (Hincapie Sportswear) crossed first, race leader Kiel Reijnen (United Healthcare) was second and Matej Mohoric (Cannondale) was third.

The riders then headed further down the Roaring Fork Valley to Carbondale for the second sprint of the day, where Magner once again picked up top points, race leader Reijnen was again second, and Jure Kocjan (Team Smartstop) was third. As the riders made their way toward the first KOM climb of the day at McClure pass, attacks began to develop and eventually a 12 man group formed, building an advantage of three minutes with 83 kilometers to go.

USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 2, David De La Cruz, Team NetApp-Endura
USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 2, David De La Cruz, Team NetApp-Endura Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

At the first KOM of the day at McClure Summit, David De la Cruz (NetApp Endura) crossed first, KOM leader Ben Jacques-Maynes (Jamis Hagens Berman) was second, and Michael Torckler (Team Smartstop) was third.

Following the climb, a lead group of 12 settled in, building a time gap of 4 minutes on the main field before they reached the first dirt section of the race 32.9 miles / 52.9 km from the end of the race. As the riders approached the category 2 Kebler Pass, the breakaway group disintegrated, with Robin Carpenter (Hincapie Sportswear) pulling away solo.

“I attacked my breakaway companions about 10K away from the climb. I couldn’t see anyone. The last time check I saw was 30 seconds to the peloton. I had it in my head that if I could get over the top of Kebler Pass with enough time, I could end up getting to Crested Butte with 30-40 seconds. I really don’t know, but it ended up working out somehow. The rain really worked to my advantage. Since I didn’t have anyone in front of me, I had clear sight.”
– Robin Carpenter, Hincapie Sportswear

Carpenter picked up top points at the Kebler Pass summit, Matt Cooke (Jamis-Hagens Berman) crossed second and Michael Schär (BMC Racing Team) was third.

Crested Butte, USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 2
Crested Butte, USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 2 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As the riders began the descent, they rode directly into a storm with hail, lightning, and driving rain. The final dirt portion of the route turned to slick mud as the group made their way down the treacherous downhill. With 9 km to go, officials neutralized the race. Once the race was restarted, the 45-second gap Carpenter at the time the race was stopped was reinstated.

“There was some confusion there with that neutralization. I went through the nasty part on the downhill with the mud and it seemed like all the bad stuff was behind us. Then there were a bunch of people standing in the road. The big question was what they were going to do with the rider in the breakaway. The neutralization made for a funny run in. it was really disorganized. We came to a conclusion that we were going to just go for it. I think the neutralization needed to happen at the top of the climb, not half way down the descent.”
– Alex Howes, Garmin Sharp

Still riding in a downpour, Carpenter crossed the Crested Butte sprint point first and then launched up the final climb toward the finish. When the chase group crossed the sprint point, Danny Summerhill (United Healthcare) was second and Michael Schär (BMC Racing Team) was third. Despite a chasing Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp) and Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team), Carpenter managed to hold on, crossing the finish solo with Howes and Van Garderen trailing 7 seconds back.

USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 2
USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 2 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Howes stepped into yellow leader’s jersey after the stage but played down his prospects of holding onto the overall lead.

“I have no hopes or dreams of crushing that time trial. I can’t time trial my way out of a wet paper bag. They will do their thing and hopefully I will pass this along to Tommy D. tomorrow.”
– Alex Howes, Garmin-Sharp

Stage 3: Gunnison to Monarch Mountain

Polka-dot crowns were prolific at the USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 3 queen stage
Polka-dot crowns were prolific at the USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 3 queen stage Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Following the rain-soaked stage two ride into Crested Butte, the 123 riders remaining in the race faced another difficult day of high altitude climbing along the day’s 96.3 mile / 154.9-kilometer route.

As the riders left Gunnison, huge crowds were waiting in the clouds and mist, which eventually gave way to sunny skies, 41.9 miles / 67.4 kilometers into the stage at the category 1 Monarch Pass KOM at 11,300 ft/meters).

Despite numerous attacks, as the riders approached the climb to Monarch Pass fifty kilometers into the stage, the group was riding together, with no breakaway managing to stick.

“The yellow jersey team didn’t want to defend it. Yesterday, United Healthcare had a tactic to neutralize the breakaway for the two sprint bonuses to get Kiel in the green jersey, and then they said we’re not racing for GC, so it was up to us to be the defending champions.

If you have a strong team interested in defending the jersey, it’s easier to get the breakaway to go, if no one wants to defend it, it just makes it a bit harder.”
– Tejay van Garderen, BMC Racing Team

As the field began to ascend, Janier Acevedo (Garmin-Sharp) broke off the front and the peloton began to fracture. Acevedo built a 1 minute 15 seconds advantage before losing momentum and ending back with a chase group of seven that included Tejay Van Garderen and Ben Hermans (BMC Racing Team), Rafal Majka, Pawel Poljanski and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff Saxo), Carter Jones (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits), and Acevedo’s Garmin-Sharp teammate, Tom Danielson.

Pro-Challenge-2014-stage-3-KOM-610x406
USA Pro Challenge 2014 stage 3 KOM: 1 – Ben Hermans 2 – Tom Danielson Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

At the KOM, Hermans crossed first, with Danielson close on his wheel, and the remaining six just behind.

Pawel Poljanski, Rafal Majka, Tejay Van Garderen, Michael Rogers, USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 3
Pawel Poljanski, Rafal Majka, Tejay Van Garderen, Michael Rogers, USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 3 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Groups continued to make their way through the crowds, then headed down the mountain towards Salida, where the riders circled around twice in and around Salida and passed the two intermediate sprints of the day. At the first sprint point, Acevedo crossed first, followed by Poljanski, with Hermans picking up the third place points. Soon after the sprint point, Rogers attacked and the other seven riders fell back to the field. On the second visit to Salida, Rogers picked up the top sprint points, Lucas Euser (United Healthcare) crossed second and Daniel Jaramillo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) was third.

USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 3, Michael Rogers, Tinkoff-Saxo
USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 3, Michael Rogers, Tinkoff-Saxo Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

With 20 kilometers to go, Rogers held an advantage of just over 1 minute but, as he began the climb back up Monarch Mountain for the category 2 finish, his lead began to fall and he was soon absorbed by the peloton. Despite attacks and counter-attacks, the group was together with only 1 kilometer to the go, when Van Garderen surged ahead of the group.

Tejay Van Garderen wins USA Pro Challenge stage 3
Tejay Van Garderen wins USA Pro Challenge stage 3 Photo: Greg K Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Van Garderen’s overall rivals, Majka and Danielson, now sit 20 and 34 seconds respectively behind the race leader.

Tejay Van Garderen USA Pro Challenge, 2014 stage 3 press conference
Tejay Van Garderen USA Pro Challenge, 2014 stage 3 press conference Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Van Garderen commented on both following the race:

 “I was never in any direct battle with Majka at the Tour. He’s a good guy and always joking with a smile on his face and he was the first to congratulate me after the finish today. He’s pretty young, too. He has a great future and he’s done so much already. I have huge respect for him.”

And, with regard to Danielson…

“The thing is, and no disrespect to him at all, but I think Danielson got a little nervous out there. He wanted to attack on his own, but it never seemed like he wanted to commit to it. I was at the wheel and he kind of just stayed there. At the same time, he didn’t want anyone else to get up front. I could sense he was nervous, so I just sat behind him while he wore himself out. All it took was one solid move.”

Serghei Tvetcov, Jelly Belly, USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 3
Serghei Tvetcov, Jelly Belly, USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 3, Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

“I had a great ride today. It wasn’t too steep for me and there was a headwind. Everyone tried to attack and keep attacking. With just 1k to go Tejay jumped on my back and was too close and I started to slow down.”
– Serghei Tvetcov, Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis

Stage 4: Colorado Springs Circuit

USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 4 Garden of the Gods
USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 4 Garden of the Gods Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Elia Viviani (Cannondale) sprinted to victory in Colorado Springs for the stage 4 win at the USA Pro Challenge.

Elia Viviani wins USA Pro Challenge 2014 stage 4
Elia Viviani wins USA Pro Challenge 2014 stage 4 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

“It was a huge win today. I had a great and beautiful experience in 2011 and now I’ve come back three years later and it’s still such a beautiful place. I like to race here so much, but it’s really difficult. I don’t race the Tour of Utah, so the atmosphere was very difficult for me the first three stages here. My team worked hard.”
– Elia Viviani, Cannondale

Martin Kohler (BMC Racing Team) was second and Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis) was once again on the podium in third place.

“With 200 meters left, I wanted to go, but hesitated a bit and then Viviani came by 10 kilometers an hour faster than me. Until a lap to go, I was only thinking of doing my job for Tejay. But we didn’t have to do anything on the middle two laps, so I saved a bit to try something in the sprint.”
– Martin Kohler, BMC Racing Team

Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) safely held on to the overall race lead, remaining 20 seconds ahead of Rafal Majka (Tinkoff Saxo) and 23 seconds in front of teammate, Ben Hermans.

 “It worked out better than we could have imagined. With such a short stage, we thought there could be attacks all day. We were going through all the worst-case scenarios. Thankfully we were able to keep it controlled.”
– Tejay Van Garderen, BMC Racing Team

Stage 5:  Woodland Park to Breckenridge

Stage 5 began at 8437 feet / 2571 meters in Woodland Park and traveled 104.2 miles / 167.6 kilometers through the Colorado countryside.

USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 5 Photo: Greg K Hull © Chasing Light Media
USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 5 Photo: Greg K Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The route included one sprint point 78.5 miles / 126.3 kilometers into the race at Fairplay (9950 ft / 3032 meters), a category 2 climb of Hoosier Pass, which tops out at 11,539 feet / 3517 meters, and second KOM at the category 3 on Boreas Pass Rd, just 2.5 miles / 3.9 kilometers from the race end.

USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 5
USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 5 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Missing from the start was Michael Morkov (Tinkoff-Saxo), leaving 122 riders starting the stage.

As the riders left the neutral zone, a light rain was falling and the temperature was 61°F / 16 °C and rain and wind was predicted throughout the day. 20 miles / 33 km into the race, a group of eight riders had a slight advantage of 10 seconds. They included: Tiago Machado (NetApp Endura), Danny Summerhill (United Healthcare), Eric Marcotte (Team SmartStop), Tyler Magner and Dion Smith (Hincapie Sportswear), Luis Romero Amaran (Jamis-Hagens Berman), Steve Fisher (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis), and Greg Daniel (Bissell Development Team).

Over the next 10 miles, the break fell back to the peloton and David Lozano (Team Novo Nordisk) and Travis McCabe (Team Smartstop) both called it quits and abandoned the race. With 100 kilometers to go, a group of 12 riders managed to pull away and quickly build a 3 minute 30 seconds advantage. The group included: Daniel Eaton (Bissell Development Team), Luis Lemus (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis), Scott Zwizanski (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits), Richard Handley (Rapha Condor JLT), Chris Butler (Hincapie Sportswear), Rob Britton (Team Smartstop), Jai Crawford (Drapac Professional Sysling), Jose Mendes (NetApp Endura), Cristiano Salerno (Cannondale), Ben King and Janier Acevedo (Garmin Sharp), and Lauren Didier (Trek Factory Racing).

The group worked well together and continued to increase their advantage to 4 minutes 30 seconds with 70 kilometers to go. No one in the breakaway was a threat to Kiel Reijnen’s hold on the sprint jersey, and at the Fairplay sprint point it was uncontested with Lemus crossing first, Crawford second and Handley was third.

As the lead group began to climb Hoosier Pass, the gap began to drop, and by the time they crossed the summit, where it was 49°F / 9.4 °C, the leader’s advantage had dropped to 2 minutes 30 seconds. The results of the Hooiser Pass KOM were Didier first, Acevedo second and King third. Didier pulled off the front as he headed down the descent and was joined by Acevedo, Britton and King. The riders circled through downtown Breckenridge, then headed to the final KOM of the day, a category 3 climb on Boreas Pass road, before heading back into downtown with a Main street finish.

With 1 kilometer to go, Didier was leading, with Britton and Acevedo close behind. Holding on to the finish, Didier sprinted to the stage win, with Acevedo coming in second and Britton crossing third.

Laurent Didier wins USA Pro Challenge 2014 stage 5
Laurent Didier wins USA Pro Challenge 2014 stage 5 Photo: Greg K Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

“The really big thing here is the altitude. When I talk to other people about it, they really don’t understand until they actually experience it. When you’re in Denver, you’re going flat, but you’re already about 1,800 ft. up. In Europe, 1,800 ft. is the top of the climb and in Denver, we’re already there.

“I came here about two days before to try and adapt to the altitude. The third day of the race, I got better and was in the first group of 24. Yesterday, I was in the breakaway again, but today, I didn’t feel that good in the beginning. The first 40K was quite hard, but I was in the front at one point. The weather conditions were not so easy either.”
– Laurent Didier, Trek Factory Racing

Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) remains in the overall race lead 20 seconds ahead of Rafal Majka (Tinkoff Saxo) and 37 seconds in front of Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis).

“It was definitely a tough day. The breakaway took a really long time to get along and my team had to control it the whole time. That, coupled with the cold and the rain, made it pretty hard, especially on my team because they had to pull all day.”

Stage 6: Vail ITT

Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) set a course record in a downpour at the USA Pro Challenge stage 6 individual time trial with a time of 24:26.

Tejay Van Garderen breaks record at Vail TT
Tejay Van Garderen breaks record at Vail TT Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

 “This is my third time trial in Vail. The first time I did it, it couldn’t have been worse. I went way too hard and lost the yellow jersey. Last year, I can’t say it was bad, but you could see I was really struggling on TV and barely holding on. This year, I felt powerful the whole time and tried to stay conscious the first half. It’s just about judging the altitude on this course.”
– Tejay Van Garderen, BMC Racing Team

Tom Danielson (Garmin Sharp) was second and Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis) was third.

Tom Danielson, USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 6 ITT
Tom Danielson, USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 6 ITT Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

“I’ll be honest. I was a little insecure about today. I haven’t done a good time trial this year. It was nice to get that monkey off my back today. I felt pretty strong and the crowd was incredible. Colorado crowds are second to none. The last 500 meters were absolutely insane. I thought I was going to crash and I was in so much pain. It was really cool though. I’m very happy with my performance today. To be second to Tejay is an honor.”
– Tom Danielson, Garmin Sharp

Serghei Tvetcov, USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 6 ITT
Serghei Tvetcov, USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 6 ITT Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

“It was a really hard time trial. It was cold and uphill and the altitude was bad. Finally it turned out ok in the end for me compared to last year. This year the wind was faster, but I was happy today to be on the podium.”
– Serghei Tvetcov, Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis

Van Garderen now leads the overall race by 1 minute 31 seconds in front of Danielson and 1 minute 45 seconds ahead of Tvetcov.

Jens Voigt on his last time trial at USA Pro Challenge 2014 stage 6
Jens Voigt on his last time trial at USA Pro Challenge 2014 stage 6 Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Stage 7: Boulder to Denver

Alex Howes claims USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 7 victory
Alex Howes claims USA Pro Challenge 2014 Stage 7 victory Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Alex Howes (Garmin Sharp) sprinted to victory in downtown Denver claiming stage 7 of the USA Pro Challenge 2014.

“We went past my house literally four times today on the opening circuits. We went past my high school and my elementary school. I saw my entire family out there today. The plan was to go over Lookout and drive it to the finish and I didn’t know if it was going to work. We got to talking on the team bus this morning and we all agreed we’d try. With my team riding up there today in my home state with all their hearts, I just couldn’t lose.”
Alex Howes, Garmin Sharp

Kiel Reijnen (United Healthcare) was second and Michael Schär (BMC Racing Team) was third.

“We came into this race with goals for stage wins. Today was a really close one. To see how hard the guys rode for me, we were all really satisfied. It’s really an honor for all of us from Colorado. It’s really, really special for us. We got to start in Boulder, where I grew up, and it’s a pretty special kind of motivation and a truly unique experience.”
– Kiel Reijnen, United Healthcare

Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) won the overall race, with Tom Danielson (Garmin Sharp) coming in second and Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis) placing third.

Tejay Van Garderen, USA Pro Challenge 2014
Tejay Van Garderen, USA Pro Challenge 2014 Photo: Greg K Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

“This week was just incredible. We started in my new hometown of Aspen and when we were staying out there, we went by my house four times on the circuit. When training, I had all the guys over for lunch at my house before.

Today, we were in Boulder where I used to live and we went to Taylor Phinney’s apartment right by the start line. We were just playing video games and hanging out. A lot of times you race and it just feels like stress because you have a job to do and you have to perform. Here, this is just our home and it feels more like a training camp; it’s just fun. It feels like we’re racing with all our friends. It was fun to share that with my European teammates. This must be what it feels like for them when they race in their homeland.”
– Tejay Van Garderen, BMC Racing Team


Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Tejay Van Garderen, Janier Acevedo USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 4

USA Pro Challenge 2013

Stage 1: Aspen Snowmass

Chris Froome, Joe Dombrowski, Sky Pro Cycling, USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1
Chris Froome Sky Pro Cycling USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1 Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Richie Porte, Team Sky
Richie Porte, Team Sky Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1

  1. Peter Sagan , USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1
    Peter Sagan , USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

    Peter Sagan

  2. Greg Van Avermaet
  3. Kiel Reijnen
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1 Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Cannondale, USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1
Cannondale USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1 Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1 jerseys

Leader (yellow): Peter Sagan

USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1
Peter Sagan, USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Sprint (green): Peter Sagan, worn by Greg Van Avermaet
KOM (red): Matt Cooke

Matt Cooke  USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1
Matt Cooke USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Youth (blue): Peter Sagan, worn by Lawson Craddock
Courageous (orange): Craig Lewis

Juraj Sagan, USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1
Juraj Sagan USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 1 Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Stage 2: Aspen to Breckenridge

USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2 Aspen start
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2 Aspen start Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2 Start: Aspen
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2 Start: Aspen Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2 podium

  1. Mathias Frank BMC Racing USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2
    Mathias Frank BMC Racing USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

    Mathias Fränk

  2. Lachlan Morton
  3. Peter Sagan
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Peter Sagan, Tejay Van Garderen USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2
Peter Sagan, Tejay Van Garderen USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2 jerseys

Leader (yellow): Lachlan Morton

Lachlan Morton, USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2
Lachlan Morton, USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Sprint (green): Peter Sagan

Peter Sagan Cannondale USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2
Peter Sagan Cannondale USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 2 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

KOM (red): Matt Cooke
Youth (blue): Lachlan Morton, worn by Lawson Craddock
Courageous (orange): Mathias Fränk

Stage 3: Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs

USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3 Breckenridge Swan Mountain Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3 Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3 Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3 podium

  1. Peter Sagan
  2. Luka Mezgec
  3. Ryan Anderson
Jens Voigt USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3
Jens Voigt USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Paul Sherwen USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3
Paul Sherwen USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Phil Liggett USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3
Phil Liggett USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3 jerseys

Leader (yellow): Lachlan Morton

Lachlan Morton USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3
Lachlan Morton USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Sprint (green): Peter Sagan
KOM (red): Matt Cooke
Youth (blue): Lachlan Morton, worn by Lawson Craddock

USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3 Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Courageous (orange): Jens Voigt

Jens Voigt USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3
Jens Voigt USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Governor George Hickenlooper USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3
Governor George Hickenlooper USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 3 Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Stage 4: Steamboat Springs to Beaver Creek

USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 4
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 4 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
Andreas Klöden RadioShack Leopard USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 4
Andreas Klöden RadioShack Leopard USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 4 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 4 Steamboat Springs
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 4 Steamboat Springs Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Lawson Craddock, Lachlan Morton USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 4
Lawson Craddock, Lachlan Morton USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 4 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 4 podium

  1. Janier Acevedo
  2. Tejay Van Garderen
  3. Mathias Frank
Tejay Van Garderen, Janier Acevedo, USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 4 finish
Tejay Van Garderen, Janier Acevedo, USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 4 finish Photo: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media
Tejay Van Garderen, Janier Acevedo USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 4
Tejay Van Garderen, Janier Acevedo USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 4 Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 4 jerseys

Leader (yellow): Tejay Van Garderen

Tejay Van Garderen BMC Racing Team USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 4
Tejay Van Garderen BMC Racing Team USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 4 Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Sprint (green): Peter Sagan
KOM (red): Matt Cooke

Matt Cooke Jamis – Hagens Berman USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 4
Matt Cooke Jamis – Hagens Berman USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 4 Photo Credit: Kim Hull © Chasing Light Media

Youth (blue): Lachlan Morton
Courageous (orange): Michael Rogers

Stage 5: Vail Individual Time Trial

Start /Finish Location: Vail
Start Time: 1:05 PM
Type: Individual time trial
Stage Length: 10 miles / 16.1 km
Total climb: 1,694 ft

Stage 5 Highlights

Race start on E. Meadow / International Bridge
Onto Gore Creek Dr from Willow Bridge
Onto Vail Valley Dr
Onto South Frontage Rd & I-70

USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 5 podium

1 – Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team
2 – Andrew Talansky (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp
3 – Tom Danielson (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp

Stage 6: Loveland to Fort Collins

Peter Sagan wins stage 6 in Fort Collins & Tejay Van Garderen retains a commanding overall lead.

USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 6 podium

1 – Peter Sagan
2 – Luka Mezgec
3 – Greg Van Avermaet

Stage 7: Denver

Start Location: Denver
Finish Location: Denver
Start Time: 1:00 PM
Type: Circuit
Stage Length: 75 miles / 120.7 km
Estimated Finish: 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Stage 7 Route Highlights

  • Civic Center Park neutral start on Broadway between 14th & Colfax
  • Course runs through LoDo and along Speer / Cherry Creek
  • Sprint at Finish line  – 6 laps to go, 17.8 miles ridden
  • Sprint at Finish line  – 4 laps to go, 36 miles ridden
  • Sprint at Finish line  – 2 laps to go, 54.2 miles ridden
  • Finish in Civic Center Park

Peter Sagan wins stage 7 in Denver & Tejay Van Garderen wins the overall USA Pro Challenge 2013.

USA Pro Challenge 2013 Stage 7 podium

1 – Peter Sagan
2 – Ryan Anderson
3 – Alessandro Bazzana

 

 

 

 

 

USA Pro Challenge 2013 press conference

USA Pro Challenge 2013

Athletes, teams, support personnel, media and fans are all in Aspen, Colorado for the start of the 3rd Annual USA Pro Challenge.

Chris Froome, Richie Porte, Peter Sagan, Christian Vande Velde, Tejay Van Garderen, Jens Voigt, Rory Sutherland, Martijn Vershchoor, and Tom Danielson attended the pre-race press conference on Sunday, Aug 20 and provided a few glimpses into what to expect in the next week of racing.

Chris Froome on adjusting to the Colorado elevations…

Chris Froome USA Pro Challenge 2013
Chris Froome USA Pro Challenge 2013 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

“It’s been quite a pleasant surprise coming over here, and a major adjustment in terms of the altitude. You feel better as the days go on, but it adds a whole new dimension to the race. I’ve never done a race at this kind of altitude before.”

Peter Sagan on racing in the United States…

Peter Sagan USA Pro Challenge 2013
Peter Sagan USA Pro Challenge 2013 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

“I’m very happy to return to America. After the Tour of California and the Tour de France, I’ve come here for the altitude preparation. I was here for two weeks before the race and after just two days, I really understood that it’s difficult to race here under these conditions. I hope I prepared well, because I want to do well and help my teammates.”

Richie Porte on riding in the USA Pro Challenge…

Richie Porte, USA Pro Challenge 2013
Richie Porte, USA Pro Challenge 2013 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

“After the Tour de France, and the second year running that Team Sky ProCycling has won, we enjoyed our last month without a lot of time on the bike. Obviously, after the Tour de France, we had a pretty big after-party. I haven’t been doing the full gas effort, but I’ve been riding my bike.”

Jens Voigt on his Stage 4 win during the 2012 USA Pro Challenge…

Jens Voigt USA Pro Challenge 2013
Jens Voigt USA Pro Challenge 2013 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

“My job in a lot of races is to cover the early breakaways. The Garmin team had very aggressive tactics and there were a few of us out there, so I knew one of us had to be with them. I thought, ‘it’s now or never…this is the moment to go.’ I attacked the group and then I see our director who said, ‘Jens it’s a long way.’ I said, ‘trust me it’s all good,’ and it all worked out in the end. It was a little daring, but I cannot beat everyone on the last sprint, so I have to go the long and hard way.”

Tom Danielson on the key to winning the USA Pro Challenge…

Tom Danielson USA Pro Challenge 2013
Tom Danielson USA Pro Challenge 2013 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

“I think the key is a strong team. As you saw last year, we were super aggressive. The course really favored an aggressive approach and this year is similar. You have to either control other people being aggressive or be aggressive yourself. It’s a very strong field this year with Sky Procycling and the Tour de France Champion. You have to be careful…you can’t do crazy stuff. We’ll be as strong as we can be, and we’ll try to be as smart as possible as well.”

USA Pro Challenge 2013 press conference
USA Pro Challenge 2013 Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
USA Pro Challenge 2013 yellow jersey
USA Pro Challenge 2013 yellow jersey Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media
USA Pro Challenge 2013 jerseys
USA Pro Challenge 2013 jerseys Photo Credit: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media