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After winning stage 3 of the USA Pro Challenge Wednesday at Monarch Mountain and taking the overall race lead ahead of Tinkoff-Saxo rider Rafal Majka, BMC Racing’s Tejay van Garderen met with the press to answer questions about the stage, his biggest rivals, and what’s next at the seven-day stage race.
Q: Have you ever finished a race at this altitude? And how did your preparation at altitude, in Aspen, help you manage to day’s summit finish?
TVG: No, not unless the USA Pro Challenge has finished higher than this, otherwise this is the highest I’ve ever finished. Monarch [elevation 11,312 feet] is much higher than the [Passo dello] Stelvio, the highest road we climb in Europe, so this altitude was unlike anything that’s ever been raced. I was in Aspen for two weeks before the race. I used those days to scout out [Tuesday’s] stage [with McClure Pass and Kebler Pass], then I stayed in Salida to scout out today’s finishing climb. Spending the last two weeks at altitude makes huge difference.
Q: Which riders were you most concerned with in the final five kilometers?
TVG: [Tom] Danielson [Garmin-Sharp] was the biggest concern, then Majka. We were in a good position, and we also had Ben Hermans, so we could play with that a little bit. Danielson was the biggest concern with us. Now I’m thinking we’re going to need to watch Majka the most.
Q: Was today a bit of retribution for all the havoc Majka created in the mountains at the Tour de France?
TVG: I was never in any direct battles with Majka at the Tour. He’s a good guy; he’s always joking, he always has a big smile on his face. He was the first to congratulate me at the finish. He’s part of this younger generation of cyclists. I have a huge amount of respect for him, but I am definitely ready to battle with him this week.
Q: Did Garmin’s repeated attacks cause you concern, or were you relaxed about them?
TVG: I felt pretty well under control. The team rode incredibly. It was a little confusing out there because Garmin had the jersey, but they didn’t want to control. They kept jumping and riding aggressively; it was a confusing tactic. So, just to simplify things, we put on our team on front, to keep things from getting out of hand. After riding all day yesterday, and a portion today, I think it’s awesome I was able to pay them back with a stage win and the yellow jersey.
Q: What can you say about Tom Danielson’s tactics and strategy? How did you play your own strategy off of what he was doing?
TVG: The thing is, Danielson, all due respect to him, but I think he got a little nervous. He wanted to attack on his own, but he never seemed like he wanted to commit to an attack. It seemed like every time he saw me on his wheel, he sat up. He also didn’t want anyone else to go up the road, so not only was he doing his own attacks, he was jumping with all the other attacks. I could just sense that he was nervous, so I thought, okay, I’ll just sit behind him, he’ll wear himself out a bit with all his jumping, and then all I need is just one solid move, and that’s all it took.
Q: Did you ever feel like you were in difficulty? Do you feel like a climb like this — long, and high, but not terribly steep — perfectly suits your strengths?
TVG: It wasn’t the steepest climb out there, but I’m no stranger on doing well in steep climbs. This year at the Tour we had Col de Pla d’Adet, and Hautacam. Those are much steeper than anything you find in Colorado, Utah, or California. I wouldn’t have minded if it was a bit steeper. That makes it harder for weaker guys to follow when there’s attacks, so you’re only dealing with five guys instead of 15.
Q: It seemed like the past couple days it’s taken almost two hours for the breakaway to go. Is there a reason for that?
TVG: Yeah, it has to do with the fact that the yellow jersey didn’t want to defend. Yesterday UnitedHealthcare had a tactic to neutralize the breakaway through the first two sprint bonuses to secure Kiel Reijnen in the green jersey; then they said they weren’t racing for GC, and would let the GC teams control. So then it was up to us, as defending champions, to do so. Today we thought Garmin was going to control for the jersey, but every attack they tried to put someone in the move. And that didn’t bode well for us, because then we would have to chase. If you have a strong team interested in defending the jersey, it’s easier to get a break to go.
Q: Thursday’s stage, a circuit race in Colorado Springs, looks to be one of the easier stages on paper. Do you have any perspective on that?
TVG: When I look at the Garden of Gods circuit, I see a 17-percent grade, four times; that’s not that easy. I think we have the strongest team here. Ben Hermans is still in third place overall, and he hasn’t even touched the wind yet. If we need to, we can pull him out and have him defend, because he’s got a big engine that we’ve kept fresh this whole time. But I don’t think we’ll even need to because I think the rest of the team is up to the challenge.
Q: What was it like in the wind today? Was it strong enough to keep people from attacking, or was it just not steep enough? Was there a headwind?
TVG: There was a headwind. It definitely makes it easier to follow. But then again, if you can jump and get the gap, it also makes it harder to close the gap. So if you are really explosive and can get that gap, you can keep it. If you are just going to grind out a tempo, then that’s easier to do in a tailwind.
Q: If you’re Garmin, if you’re Danielson, what’s your next move?
TVG: They were obviously really aggressive today. Even on day one, they were aggressive with Howes almost getting the stage win. I think they’re probably just going to keep being aggressive. The best part is Garmin’s playbook is pretty easy to read. Back in 2012, they had four GC guys with [Peter] Stetina, [Alex] Howes, [Tom] Danielson and Christian [Vande Velde], and they would use all of them and it was hard to keep them under control. Now it’s looking more like Danielson is there only guy; Howes is 2 minutes down. I think Tom will probably be aggressive; it’s not that much of a concern because we only need to watch one guy.
Q: Did today’s win have anything to do with revenge after yesterday’s neutralization, and a potential missed stage-win opportunity?
TVG: We wanted the stage win yesterday. But I’m not disappointed at all, it was an amazing ride by [Robin] Carpenter. It was unfortunate what happened, but at end of day, I can’t be too disappointed. In the end, I was beaten to the line by Alex Howes. You never know if you’re if going for the stage win, when you get that extra motivation, but Howes would have had that extra motivation as well. I wasn’t out for revenge or anything today; we were just out there to do our best.
Q: Was it course recon, the race situation, or the gradient, that helped you decide to make the final move?
TVG: It was the feel of the race. I was assessing the attacks from Danielson, looking at his body language. At beginning of the climb, his attacks were really strong, but towards the top, they were starting to get a little bit weaker. Before, he would attack and make a really hard tempo and we’d all be suffering on his wheel. Then he’d look around, and they just got a little weaker so I knew he’s tired; got to hit him when he’s tired.
The post Q&A with USA Pro Challenge race leader Tejay van Garderen appeared first on VeloNews.com.
Aggressive tactics backfire on Monarch Mountain
- 1. Tejay van Garderen, BMC Racing Team, in 3:50:41
- 2. Rafal Majka, Tinkoff-Saxo
- 3. Serghei Tvetcov, Jelly Belly, at :00:20
- 4. Ben Hermans, BMC Racing Team, at :00:24
- 5. Thomas Danielson, Team Garmin-Sharp
- 6. Carter Jones, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies, at :00:30
- 7. Joseph Rosskopf, Hincapie Sportswear Development, at :00:39
- 8. Matthew Busche, Trek Factory Racing, at :00:45
- 9. Bartosz Huzarski, Team Netapp-Endura, at :00:51
- 10. Clement Chevrier, Bissell Development Team, at :01:06
- 11. Julian Kyer, Team SmartStop, at :01:09
- 12. Bruno Pires, Tinkoff-Saxo, at :01:18
- 13. Riccardo Zoidl, Trek Factory Racing, at :01:21
- 14. Pawel Poljanski, Tinkoff-Saxo, at :01:47
- 15. Lucas Euser, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, at :01:57
- 16. Frank Schleck, Trek Factory Racing
- 17. Brent Bookwalter, BMC Racing Team
- 18. Alex Howes, Team Garmin-Sharp
- 19. Daniel Alexander Jaramillo Diez, Jamis-Hagens Berman, at :03:07
- 20. Janier Alexis Acevedo Colle, Team Garmin-Sharp, at :04:20
- 21. Ruben Zepuntke, Bissell Development Team, at :05:36
- 22. Laurent Didier, Trek Factory Racing, at :06:47
- 23. Michael Schär, BMC Racing Team, at :09:49
- 24. Jens Voigt, Trek Factory Racing, at :11:55
- 25. Robbie Squire, Jamis-Hagens Berman, at :12:58
- 26. Benjamin King, Team Garmin-Sharp
- 27. Lachlan Norris, Drapac Professional Cycling
- 28. Chris Butler, Hincapie Sportswear Development
- 29. Ryan Anderson, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies
- 30. Phillip Gaimon, Team Garmin-Sharp
- 31. Javier Megias Leal, Team Novo Nordisk
- 32. Gregor Muhlberger, Team Netapp-Endura
- 33. Peter Stetina, BMC Racing Team
- 34. Tanner Putt, Bissell Development Team
- 35. David de la Cruz Melgarejo, Team Netapp-Endura
- 36. Rob Britton, Team SmartStop
- 37. Benjamin Day, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
- 38. Tiago Machado, Team Netapp-Endura
- 39. Tom Zirbel, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies
- 40. Rasmus Guldhammer, Tinkoff-Saxo
- 41. Edward Beltran Suarez, Tinkoff-Saxo
- 42. Michael Rogers, Tinkoff-Saxo
- 43. Hugh Carthy, Rapha Condor Jlt
- 44. Jose Joao Pimenta Costa Mendes, Team Netapp-Endura
- 45. Jesse Anthony, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies, at :17:55
- 46. Ian Crane, Jamis-Hagens Berman, at :27:53
- 47. Zachary Bell, Team SmartStop
- 48. Ben Jacques-Maynes, Jamis-Hagens Berman
- 49. Rick Zabel, BMC Racing Team
- 50. Cristiano Salerno, Cannondale
- 51. Tom Moses, Rapha Condor Jlt
- 52. Markel Irizar Aranburu, Trek Factory Racing
- 53. Kiel Reijnen, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
- 54. Elliott Porter, Rapha Condor Jlt
- 55. Caleb Fairly, Team Garmin-Sharp
- 56. Calvin Watson, Trek Factory Racing
- 57. Edward King, Cannondale
- 58. Thomas Dekker, Team Garmin-Sharp
- 59. Toms Skujins, Hincapie Sportswear Development
- 60. Charles Planet, Team Novo Nordisk
- 61. Luis Enrique Davila, Jelly Belly
- 62. Joonas Henttala, Team Novo Nordisk
- 63. Ivan Basso, Cannondale
- 64. Michael Schwarzmann, Team Netapp-Endura
- 65. Alan Marangoni, Cannondale
- 66. Jordan Kerby, Drapac Professional Cycling
- 67. Dion Smith, Hincapie Sportswear Development
- 68. Yannick Eijssen, BMC Racing Team
- 69. Hayden Roulston, Trek Factory Racing
- 70. Kirk Carlsen, Jelly Belly
- 71. Gregory Daniel, Bissell Development Team
- 72. Kristian House, Rapha Condor Jlt
- 73. Martin Kohler, BMC Racing Team
- 74. Carson Miller, Jamis-Hagens Berman
- 75. Patrick Konrad, Team Netapp-Endura
- 76. Gavin Mannion, Team Garmin-Sharp
- 77. Matej Mohoric, Cannondale
- 78. Cameron Wurf, Cannondale
- 79. Ian Burnett, Jelly Belly
- 80. Scott Ambrose, Team Novo Nordisk
- 81. Elia Viviani, Cannondale
- 82. Jonathan Clarke, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
- 83. Bernard Sulzberger, Drapac Professional Cycling
- 84. Leopold König, Team Netapp-Endura
- 85. Michael Mørkøv, Tinkoff-Saxo
- 86. Jonathan Cantwell, Drapac Professional Cycling
- 87. David Lozano Riba, Team Novo Nordisk
- 88. Wesley Sulzberger, Drapac Professional Cycling
- 89. Matt Cooke, Jamis-Hagens Berman
- 90. Jesper Hansen, Tinkoff-Saxo
- 91. Adam Phelan, Drapac Professional Cycling
- 92. Martijn Verschoor, Team Novo Nordisk
- 93. Stephen Leece, Jamis-Hagens Berman
- 94. Michel Koch, Cannondale
- 95. Steve Fisher, Jelly Belly
- 96. Daniel Eaton, Bissell Development Team
- 97. Christopher Jones, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
- 98. Keegan Swirbul, Bissell Development Team
- 99. Scott Zwizanski, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies
- 100. Travis McCabe, Team SmartStop
- 101. Mike Friedman, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies
- 102. Robin Carpenter, Hincapie Sportswear Development
- 103. Jacob Rathe, Jelly Belly
- 104. Bjorn Selander, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies
- 105. Michael Cuming, Rapha Condor Jlt
- 106. Michael Torckler, Team SmartStop
- 107. Eric Marcotte, Team SmartStop
- 108. Aaron Perry, Team Novo Nordisk
- 109. Joseph Lewis, Hincapie Sportswear Development
- 110. Darren Lapthorne, Drapac Professional Cycling
- 111. James Oram, Bissell Development Team
- 112. Richard Handley, Rapha Condor Jlt
- 113. Alexander Candelario, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies
- 114. Jai Crawford, Drapac Professional Cycling
- 115. Jeffry Louder, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
- 116. Jure Kocjan, Team SmartStop
- 117. Daniel Summerhill, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
- 118. Isaac Bolivar Hernandez, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
- 119. Nathan Van Hooydonck, Bissell Development Team
- 120. Tyler Magner, Hincapie Sportswear Development
- 121. Luis Romero Amaran, Jamis-Hagens Berman
- 122. Oscar Clark, Hincapie Sportswear Development
- 123. Johnathan Freter, Jelly Belly
Tejay van Garderen (BMC) won stage 3 of the USA Pro Challenge with his peerless climbing prowess.
On the climb to Monarch Mountain, he also rode his way into the GC lead at the Colorado tour.
An elite group of GC contenders entered the final ascent up the east side of Monarch Pass at the end of a 96-mile stage from Gunnison to Monarch Mountain. As the race climbed to 10,000 feet above sea level, the leaders traded jabs to little effect.
First, Janier Acevedo (Garmin-Sharp) and Daniel Jaramillo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) went. Then it was Bruno Pires (Tinkoff-Saxo). Carter Jones (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Matthew Busche (Trek Factory Racing) also tried their hands at solo moves.
But none of them stuck until the lead group saw the red kite, and van Garderen dealt the most decisive blow, followed only by Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo). Though this year’s Tour de France king of the mountains tried to overtake the American on the final ramp, van Garderen found another gear, won the stage, and earned himself the yellow jersey.
“I don’t know that [attack] wasn’t really the plan,” said van Garderen. “We were kind of thinking, ‘let’s just keep it on same time,’ and you know because I’m pretty confident for the TT, but when I saw Danielson’s attacks were getting weaker toward the end, I could sense he was getting a little tired, and I just went for it.
“[Majka] is definitely a strong rider, not only for the overall but also for the stage. Yeah, [he] was definitely a concern. … I was actually really surprised because he’s pretty quick to the line, I didn’t think I was actually gonna be able to stick it there [to win].
“GC is the most important [for me], but if you have a chance for a stage [win] you’re not going to give it away.”
Behind Majka, Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly) finished third.
Race splits on early climb
The day’s flat, early miles saw a number of ill-fated attacks that rarely got more than 10 seconds’ advantage on the field.
Things finally got serious at around 31 miles into the race, when Garmin-Sharp’s Acevedo wound up the pace and got a slight advantage.
The elevated pace at the base of the west side of Monarch pass saw a small group of about 15 separate from the front of the peloton.
Acevedo’s lead grew to 1:15 on the long category 1 climb.
However, the chase group, which had been pared down to seven, caught the leader just before the day’s first king of the mountains sprint.
The front group included: Ben Hermans (BMC), van Garderen, Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp), Jones, Majka, Acevedo, Pawel Poljanski (Tinkoff-Saxo), and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo).
Hermans was first over the top of Monarch Pass, followed by Danielson, then Poljanski in third.
As they reached Salida, a large chase group caught the breakaway, resulting in a group of 23 riders, including the day’s overall leader, Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp).
With 32 miles to go, Rogers set out alone, making a solo breakaway on the Salida circuit.
With a confused chase group, the gap went out to 25 seconds.
“Obviously I had to have a go,” said Rogers. “There was a bit of confusion there … what, you know, the teams wanted to do. Obviously Garmin rode very aggressively the first time up the climb. [They] had two, we had three. Ideally it would have better if someone had come with me, or two guys. … It was tough out there with the headwind.”
Lucas Euser (UnitedHealthcare) and Jaramillo tried to bridge but were brought back by the main chase group at the end of the circuits in Salida. By that point, Rogers had a 1:30 lead.
Showdown on Monarch Mountain
BMC set tempo into the final climb with all four riders taking the front of the chase.
Coming into the final eight miles of the day, Rogers’ gap began dropping precipitously. Sure enough, the chase, led by BMC’s Michael Schär, made the catch with 5.3 miles to go.
Acevedo and Jaramillo attacked with 3.9 miles to go.
Brent Bookwalter (BMC) kept the tempo high as the two Colombians dangled off the front. They were soon brought back to the group.
Then, Jaramillo went to the front again, winding up the pace for a moment, then causing the lead riders to look at each other, opening the door for another attack from Acevedo. That move was also to no avail.
As the pace fluctuated, Howes was dropped with 3.6 miles to go.
Pires was next to go, but he never got a significant gap over the lead group. The high altitude, steady grade, and headwind all contributed to cautious racing tactics among the GC favorites.
But with three miles to go, Danielson tried to make another move. Hermans quickly jumped on his wheel, not letting a gap grow.
Jones went next, with the same result as all the earlier moves on the climb.
With the lead group reeling from the flurry of attacks, Busche made an attack that finally stuck. Tinkoff-Saxo quickly went to the front to chase back the seven-second gap.
The former U.S. national champion was brought back with one mile to go.
“There was a big lull at 3k to go, and I decided I should try something,” said Busche. “I got a gap. I don’t really know what happened behind, but when they came by, I saw Tinkoff pulling full gas, so I don’t think there’s anything different I could have done. I basically went all in. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t, At least I tried.
“[I'm] happy that I tried but a little disappointed that I lost something [on GC] in the end, but I guess better to go down fighting than go down without trying. It’s not over … long race yet.”
As Majka’s final teammate pulled off the front with one kilometer to go, van Garderen attacked, and only Majka could follow.
The defending USA Pro Challenge champion drove the pace up the final incline, leading out Majka through the final right hand bend up to Monarch Mountain.
Though the Pole tried to swing around van Garderen’s left side, he could not match the BMC rider’s final kick.
“Today the final was really fast,” said Majka, “and for the win I tried to pass Tejay, but he is too strong for me. I am a little tired with the Tour, Poland, and now Colorado.”
Van Garderen now leads Majka on GC by 20 seconds. Hermans sits third, 23 seconds behind, and Danielson and Tvetcov round out the top-five in fourth and fifth, respectively.
“My biggest advantage is the time trial and to already have as solid buffer going into that that gives me a lot of confidence,” said van Garderen. “Majka is looking strong and my teammate Hermans is looking strong.
“I love being home [in Colorado]. I love this race. Every year I’ve done this race, I’ve taken away something from it. I look forward to this race every year … yeah, this is awesome.”
Thursday, the peloton will face a punchy 70-mile circuit race in Colorado Springs, through the Garden of the Gods.
The post Van Garderen wins stage 3, takes overall lead in USA Pro Challenge appeared first on VeloNews.com.