Denver Time Trial
Nibali tests form, Caruso fights for a top placing as the overall race gets shuffled again.
The organizers of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge were allegedly disappointed with last year's race. Many said it lacked drama. So they designed a course that was hard, but also one that might keep time gaps small, and, as a result, would keep the identity of the overall winner in question until the end of the final day.
That day was Sunday. The race finished with a 9.5-mile time trial in downtown Denver, and with the top six riders within 26 seconds of each other, and the top thirteen riders separated by 57 seconds, nobody was sure of anything.
And the race didn't disappoint. Rising time trial star Taylor Phinney of the BMC racing team set the best time of the day early on—time trial start orders are determined in reverse order of the overall standings, the lowest ranked go first, with the highest go last—and kept it as rider after rider failed to come close to his time of 17:25.
Vincenzo Nibali, who has been aggressive all week, decided the time trial was another opportunity to test his form. As he was sitting in 29th overall, he started later. He rolled down the start ramp fast and quickly got into his time trial position, turning over the big gears on his Cannondale Slice RS time trial bike with a pedal stroke that belied the difficulty of riding solo at speeds over 30mph. He finished in 18:02 to grab a temporary hold on 4th place for the day. Caruso, no time trial specialist, was 26th on the day going into the final riders.
Everyone was waiting for the final three starters of the day, BMC's Tejay Van Garderen, followed by Garmin-Sharp's Christian Vande Velde, and then the race leader, Levi Leipheimer of Omega Pharma-Quickstep. These three all had the legs to win the stage, but only one was going to win overall.
Van Garderen started first and looked to be on a great ride. He was second-fastest at the first time check. Until Vande Velde steamed through. Leipheimer rode past the same and was only eighth-fastest. Leipheimer seemed out of the lead for good. At the line, Van Garderen came within nineteen seconds of his teammate, Vande Velde thirteen, with Leipheimer finishing ninth on the day. Vande Velde had won the race.
Caruso showed well in Colorado, finishing twelfth overall. "I'm almost satisfied with my performance in this Colorado and really happy to have been here. I’m not a cronoman so I did my best in today’s TT to defend my position in GC. I will be happy if the team brings me here next year. For sure, I would target this race and be more competitive." Nibali was also just short of satisfied. "Unlucky I didn’t achieve my goal to win a stage but I’m glad anyway for my performance. Today’s TT result was good for me. Finishing right behind the specialists is what I wanted. I’m sure this race gave me an important boost to my fitness: I'll have great memories about people and Colorado."
Thanks for tuning in. The Liquigas-Cannondale's season is hardly over. The boys in green and blue will be racing around the world until November. There is lots of action between now and then, and the team is intent on racking up victories and podium places wherever they go.
Stage 7 Results—Denver Time Trial—9.5 miles
1. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:17:25
2. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Sharp 0:00:13
3. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:19
4. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:00:21
5. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - Sharp 0:00:29
Stage 7 Liquigas-Cannondale
7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) 0:00:37
17. Moreno Moser (Ita) 0:00:53
29. Damiano Caruso (Ita) 0:01:16
49. Timothy Duggan (USA )0:01:34
62. Valerio Agnoli (Ita) 0:01:44
67. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) 0:01:51
72. Ivan Basso (Ita) 0:01:55
Final Overall Standings
1. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Sharp 25:57:34
2. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:21
3. Levi Leipheimer (USA) OmegaPharma-Quickstep 0:00:24
4. Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:01:08
5. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:01:14
Final Overall Liquigas-Cannondale
12. Damiano Caruso (Ita) 0:01:49
21. Timothy Duggan (USA) 0:03:52
27. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) 0:05:58
42. Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) 0:21:33
58. Moreno Moser (Ita) 0:36:24
72. Valerio Agnoli (Ita) 0:55:58
77. Ivan Basso (Ita) 1:02:49
Final Points Standings
1. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Sharp 33pts
2. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 25
3. Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1 - Sanofi 22
4. Serghei Tvetcov (Mda) Team Exergy 19
5. Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 18