Breckenridge to Colorado Springs 117.9 miles
Nibali earns Most Aggressive Jersey after day long escape falls a few kilometers short.
The road of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge's 117.9-mile Stage Five pointed almost entirely downhill. Starting at about 9,000 feet in Breckenridge, climbing up to over 11,000 in the first eleven miles, then dropping 5,000-feet over the remaining 107 miles to the finish in Colorado Springs. This meant the stage should be fast. And it was. Bike racers know that high speeds can often doom breakaway efforts. That doesn't mean racers won't try to escape the grip of the pack.
And Liquigas-Cannondale's Vincenzo Nibali wasn't afraid to try his luck on another long breakaway. The Italian with a flair for attacking got himself in the early move and motored away from the field with the help of six others. The move had two benefits: Nibali's team wouldn't be obliged to chase, and the escape would gobble up all the points sprints, limiting other sprinters ability to challenge Damiano Caruso's lead in the points competition. Their lead quickly grew to almost six minutes, which made Nibali the virtual race leader. This kind of gap is something only Liquigas-Cannondale wanted, so the rest of the race went to work bringing Nibali and his advance band back. At about half-distance, Nibali was no longer the virtual leader, but his group still had four minutes. With 36 miles remaining, it was down to three minutes. With 18 miles to race, it was only 30 seconds. It looked like curtains for Nibali and company, but the ever-dwindling escape wasn't going to give up without a fight. Nibali arrived in Colorado Springs for three short laps of the town in the company of two others. With four miles left, Nibali was finally pulled back.
Now, it was time for the Liquigas-Cannondale, and the other teams with good sprinters, to ramp up the pace and set their men up for the finish. Just before getting the bell for the final lap of Colorado Springs, a Garmin-Sharp rider attacked. Caruso and his lead out train were momentarily confused. They thought the finish was upon them and they attacked off the front and Caruso crossed the finish line only to receive the bell. That kind of sprint typically needs more than a two-mile recovery, but that was all he had, and in the proper dash to the line, the second-placed rider on points, Garmin-Sharp's Tyler Farrar, proved the fastest of all, while Caruso was only able to manage ninth. As points were given for final sprint placings, this resulted in Farrar re-capturing the points lead and Caruso dropping to second, eight points down.
Caruso may have lost his Green Jersey, but Nibali was rewarded with the Orange Jersey of most aggressive rider. "I really thought and hope that Colorado Springs would be the winning chance and this is why, even if I received the jersey as most combative, I'm a little disappointed. I don't have any regrets and hope to have a good day tomorrow."
With two stages remaining, the second a time trial, tomorrow is one where every one who isn't a time trialist has their last shot at glory. For spectators, the good news is that this course, with lots of climbing and a steep 3.5-mile finishing hill, offer lots of opportunities for those wanting a chance at victory. The long shots probably have to attack early, and everyone else will be marking both race leader Tejay Van Garderen of BMC and second-place Christian Vande Velde of Garmin-Sharp. For Caruso, he needs points, and with three sprint lines, one twenty miles in, the second 75 miles in, and the third 99 miles in, he needs to be close to the front in order to win the Green Jersey back. Expect the team to work for him until the final climb.
Stage 5 Results—Breckenridge to Colorado Springs 117.9 miles
1. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Sharp 3:58:27
2. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team Same Time
3. Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1 - Sano Same Time
4. Alexander Candelario (USA) Team Optum Same Time
5. Hugo Houle (Can) Spidertech Powered By C10 Same Time
Stage 5 Liquigas-Cannondale
9. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Same Time
38, Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Same Time
62. Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Same Time
65. Ivan Basso (Ita) Same Time
71. Moreno Moser (Ita) 0:00:14
89. Timothy Duggan (USA) 0:01:17
92. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Same Time
1. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 21:32:45
2. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Sharp Same Time
3. Ivan Rovny (Rus) RusVelo 0:00:06
4. Levi Leipheimer (USA) OmegaPharma-Quickstep 0:00:08
5. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:00:12
Overall Liquigas Cannondale
9. Damiano Caruso (Ita) 0:00:17
25. Timothy Duggan (USA) 0:02:38
33. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) 0:05:31
43. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) 0:13:58
62. Moreno Moser (Ita) 0:30:24
73. Valerio Agnoli (Ita) 0:41:45
81. Ivan Basso (Ita) 0:48:25
1. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Sharp 33 pts
2. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 25
3. Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1 - Sanofi 22
4. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - Sharp 16
5. Alex Howes (USA) Garmin - Sharp 14