USAPCC 2013 Stage 3
Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs 170km


The call of history can be loud. Two years ago, Cannondale rider Elia Viviani sprinted to a victory in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge when stage four finished in Steamboat Springs. Viviani eventually won the Points competition. This year, Peter Sagan, already in the green jersey and Points leader, had the opportunity to repeat in Steamboat.

The stage began in Breckenridge and covered 170km (106mi) before reaching Steamboat. KoM leader Matt Cooke of Jamis/Hagens-Berman has made no secret of his intention to keep his lead all the way to the finish of the race, but Cannondale Pro Cycling had little interest in gifts. They had points to gain and a stage to win. They sent Davide Villella on the attack before the first KoM, less than 16km (10mi) into the race.

Villella scooped up the top points and kept going. Cooke got second and sat up. Joining the Italian were Sky's Josh Edmondson, Jelly Belly's Sergei Tvetcov, RadioShack's Jens Voigt, and Jamis/Hagens-Berman's Tyler Wren.

The five rode as a team, scooping up intermediate sprint points at both Silverthorne, at 30km (19mi) in, and Kremmling, at half-distance.

With 54km (34mi) remaining, and the gap just under the five-minute mark, Voigt decided he needed to go faster. The big German rider, at 42 years of age, is the most experienced rider in the race, and his ability to know when to attack is unquestioned. His fellow break mates chased him down. Then Voigt went again. And nobody came with.

With Villella out of the break, Cannondale decided it was time to punch the clock. They dutifully went to the front and picked up the pace. As they brought down the gap to a more manageable 3:45, other teams sent riders to the front to help with the chase.

At the top of the seven-mile (11km), seven-percent grade descent from Rabbit Ears to the edge of Steamboat Springs, the gap was down to 2:45. Only 21km (13mi) left to race. Cannondale massed at the front. It wasn't fast enough for Sagan. He got as low as he could on his bike and rolled to the front, helping drive the pace even without pedaling.

With only 10km (6.2mi) remaining and the descent finished, the gap was down to 1:15. Now Cannondale got help from Optum and Argos-Shimano. The three teams worked together to eat up the road. Voigt was digging deep, but his lead was dropping fast.

With less than 3km (1.8mi) remaining, the field swept up Voigt. After sitting back much of the day, BMC added firepower to the field, trying to keep things fast for their sprinter, Greg Van Avermaet.

Then Fabio Sabatini, Sagan's leadout man, crashed along with Ted King. With his other teammates depleted from the chase, Sagan was left to fend for himself. Into the last kilometer he looked boxed in, but he moved to fourth wheel going into the final 500 meters. And when Van Avermaet started his sprint, Sagan was on his wheel. And with 200 meters remaining he rocketed past the BMC rider. Luka Mezgec of Argos-Shimano was following Sagan but couldn't come around him. He got second, while Optum's Ryan Anderson was flying up the right side of the road and finished third. Van Avermaet was fourth.

When describing today's stage, Sagan said that he didn't initially think that the USA Pro Cycling Challenge suited his strengths; the mountains were too big. But his experience in Colorado, along with the help of his teammates, has proven otherwise. "My teammates did very good work today. I felt sorry for Jens, he had a great ride. When he dropped all the riders from the breakaway, there was only one way for us to win the stage. So my teammates went to the front and did all they could to bring Jens back before the finish."

Tomorrow's 164km (102.9mi) ride from Steamboat Springs to Beaver Creek consists of 11,000' of climbing, with the tough climb of Bachelor Gulch ready to break the legs of all but the specialist climbers. That comes near the finish, and there's a short, highly technical descent leading to the last obstacle of the day, a 2km (1.2mi) climb to Beaver Creek village. The descent will give a superb bike-handler like Sagan a chance to make up ground lost ascending, but he'll still have to give his all to make it to Beaver Creek in first position. The stage could yield an opportunity for one of Sagan’s Cannondale Pro Cycling teammates, like Damiano Caruso, currently eighth overall, to try for the stage victory.

USA Pro Cycling Challenge 2013
Stage 3: Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs

1. Peter Sagan (Svk)Cannondale Pro Cycling  in 4:04:18                       
2. Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team Argos-Shimano         at same time         
3. Ryan Anderson (Can) Optum Pro Cycling                         same time
4. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team        same time
5. Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare                        same time

Stage Results Cannondale Pro Cycling

10. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling    same time
75. Nariyuki Masuda (Jpn) Cannondale Pro Cycling same time
88. Juraj Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling          same time
96. Edward King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling      same time
109. Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling      0:03:37
112. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling     0:03:59           
120. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling      DNF

General Classification

1. Lachlan David Morton (Aus) Garmin-Sharp                        
2. Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team                0:00:02             
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling     0:00:11            
4. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team      same time         
5. Lawson Craddock (USA) Bontrager Cycling          0:00:18           
8. Damiano Caruso(Ita)Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:00:41         

Points Competition

1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling     40 pts
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team        24         
3. Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team                15         
4. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team      13         
5. Lachlan David Morton (Aus) Garmin-Sharp           12