USA Pro Cycling Challenge 2013 Stage 4
Steamboat Springs to Beaver Creek 166km


The fourth stage of this year's USA Pro Cycling Challenge was talked about as the one that would break up the general classification contest. The 166km (102.9mi) ride from Steamboat Springs to Beaver Creek offered up over 11,000' of climbing, with a 9km climb up Bachelor's Gulch before descending around to the start of the same climb. At the end, the race headed to Beaver Creek with a 3.5km (2.1mi) climb to finally break the legs. Of course, those same prognosticators thought the second stage would break up the peloton, and that didn't happen.

If it was like the second stage, all the climbing would soften up the legs for a late attack and another chance for Cannondale Pro Cycling's Peter Sagan to vie for another stage win. If it was the race-changer that was promised, his teammate Damiano Caruso would be ready to go with moves on the final two climbs.

But it was their teammate Davide Villella who helped initiate the action by driving a ten-rider breakaway. The guy must be getting frequent flier miles for all his time off the front. This time, his job was two-fold. First, keep the breakaway through the intermediate sprint so that none of Sagan's Green Jersey rivals can gain points on him. Then, stay away as long as possible so that Cannondale can go for the stage win in front and not have to chase from behind.

The intermediate sprint was easy. The gap between the field and the break was already 4:15. But as the time gap started to drop, riders in the break were hedging their bets and cutting their efforts. With 60km remaining, Sky's Konstantin Svitsov had enough and attacked. Of the original nine, only Tony Gallopin of Radio Shack, Michael Rogers of Saxo-Tinkoff Bank, Villella, and Larry Warbasse of BMC were able to ride back up to him.

Gallopin was interested in the escape as he was close enough on time to be the virtual leader on the road. The others either were going to shoot for the stage win or wait for their teammates to help them in the race for the overall.

As the climb of Bachelor's Gulch began with less than 20km (12.5mi) remaining and less than a two-minute lead, Rogers attacked. Svitsov was finished, but the others scrabbled back. Then he went again and no one had a response. But both the BMC and Garmin teams were ramping up the pace for their leaders Tejay Van Garderen and Tom Danielson.

Caruso was following wheels, knowing that he didn't have the same team responsibilities as the others. As the climb steepened, Rogers was finally caught and Caruso began to struggle and the rain started soaking the riders and coating the road.

Over the top of the Gulch, Danielson led Van Garderen and Janier Acevedo of Jamis/Hagens-Berman. On the descent, Acevedo accelerated. Van Garderen followed but Danielson couldn't.

The two slowly gained time on the Garmin climber. By the bottom of the descent, the gap was 20 seconds. Danielson also had a passenger in Van Garderen's teammate Mathias Frank.

On the short climb up to Beaver Creek, the two leaders worked together, knowing that Acevedo would get the stage and Van Garderen the race lead.

Behind them, deposed race leader Lachlan Morton started attacking Caruso and the chase group in hopes of salvaging a good result. His efforts recouped some time, but it also allowed Caruso to sit in and then sprint in the final 200 meters. Caruso won the bunch kick to finish sixth on the day, 1:28 down and retain his eighth overall, now at 1:58 behind the new leader, Tejay Van Garderen.

Caruso, freed of his duties to support Sagan for stage finishes took advantage of this opportunity. "I'm satisfied with today's performance," he said after recovering at the finish line. "I dreamed of a stage win today. The feeling in my legs was good and I just lost the wheel of the best at 1 km to the last KoM. To be honest, the rhythm of the leaders was too high for me. I think I paid the difference of acclimatization compared to the top finishers today. For this reason, I'm satisfied with my efforts. Anyway, my goal now is to climb the GC and try to finish in the top five. The mountain TT  tomorrow will be an important step towards this goal."

Tomorrow, Stage Five takes the riders a few miles up the road to Vail, where they face a 16.1km (10mi) uphill individual time trial. The race of truth is always hard for the top riders, but a good ride will probably go far in confirming one's position come the final stage in Denver. The ride, almost entirely uphill, gets steeper as it goes along. Caruso will give everything he has by the finish while his fellow Cannondale Pro Cycling teammates will ride hard, but more reserved, so they can try to recover a little to help Caruso on Saturday and Sagan on Sunday.

Stage 4: Steamboat Springs to Beaver Creek

1. Janier Acevedo (Col) Jamis-Hagens Berman                      4:09:08             
2. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team                  same time                     
3. Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team                            0:00:13             
4. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Sharp                           0:00:22             
5. Gregory Brenes (Crc) Champion System                           0:01:07             
6. Damiano Caruso(Ita)Cannondale Pro Cycling           0:01:28          

Stage Results Cannondale Pro Cycling

23. Davide Villella (Ita)                                                          0:02:20
63. Ted King (USA)                                                               0:13:36
66. Nariyuki Masuda (Jpn)                                                     same time
67. Juraj Sagan (Svk)                                                              same time
97. Peter Sagan (Svk)                                                              0:16:28
98. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)                                               same time

General Classification

1. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team                  15:44:59           
2. Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team                            0:00:04             
3. Janier Acevedo (Col) Jamis-Hagens Berman                      0:00:30             
4. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Sharp                           0:00:40             
5. Lachlan David Morton (Aus) Garmin-Sharp                       0:01:17             
6. Gregory Brenes (Crc) Champion System                           0:01:37             
7. Darwin Atapuma (Col) Colombia                                        0:01:52             
8. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling         0:01:58          

General Classification Cannondale Pro Cycling

39. Davide Villella (Ita)                                                           0:13:22           
43. Peter Sagan (Svk)                                                              0:16:28           
58. Edward King (USA)                                                         0:24:23           
76. Juraj Sagan (Svk)                                                              0:30:55           
77. Nariyuki Masuda (Jpn)                                                     0:31:15           
90.Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)                                                0:35:50           

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