USA Pro Challenge Stage 4 – Vivani Wins


BMC’s Tejay van Garderen kept the overall lead of the USA Pro Challenge Thursday while Jens Voigt is denied by the sprinters led in by Elia Vivani

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USA Pro Challenge Stage 4 – Vivani Wins

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Trek Factory Racing’s Jens Voigt gave a show of panache with a solo breakaway at the USA Pro Challenge only to be caught in the final kilometre. After two successive days in the mountains resulting in massive time gaps in the overall classification, stage four offered an opportunity for those not in the GC fight.


Jens with chrome bike and helmet in a do or die effort as retirement looms at the end of the race. Picture: PhotoSport International

It was, in other words, a stage tailor-made for Jens Voigt. When a 12-man break fled the peloton at kilometre zero, ‘Jensie’ was there. Stage four comprised of a short romp of 113-kilometres, including four times around a circuit with the sharp climbs of the stunning Garden of the Gods Park, before ending with a flat run-in to the finish in Colorado Springs. The 12 escapees quickly built a lead, but once it reached the four-minute mark, the warning sirens resonated behind. First Team Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies chased, then Team Garmin-Sharp lent their legs, and the gap began to melt.

Although the GC contenders welcomed a day “off” there were too many teams that craved a stage victory. On the penultimate lap Didier attacked up the sharp Garden of the Gods climb, and when he was chased back, Voigt countered just before the KOM line. He had a gap and that was all he needed. Jens left his 11 breakaway compatriots behind and for the next 40 kilometres it was a spectacular high-speed chase: an edge-of-your-seat nail-biter to the final kilometre.

Jens Voigt “Laurent attacked at [kilometre] zero with five, six or seven guys. And I thought I could make it across [to the breakaway]. I knew the course from the years before and I was timing it so I was coming off the downhill into a little hill. BMC kept it fairly close until they knew who was in the break, and once they realized there was no danger to the classification, they let us go.”


Picture: PhotoSport International

“There were a few good riders – some wanted to go for the sprint, some for the mountains jersey – but it unlucky there was no Optum and no Garmin, so they were chasing. When I saw the gap going down I talked to Laurent and told him we have to move something here, or we are not going to survive. Laurent did one attack, and they chased him down, and I went on top of it, and I was gone.”

“I lost time up the climb because they were fresh in the peloton and they just punched up it. I had a minute on top and I thought maybe…it’s a 50-50 chance. I kept it at 50 seconds for a while, but when I saw it go down I wasn’t too optimistic going into the last three kilometres. But why should I give up, you know? Once you start out there you might as well go to the bitter end”.

“The win would have been a fairy tale ending. I was really going for it. I was going all-in to get this one more win of my career. It was fairly close, and yes this is very much like my career where I give my all, no hesitation, and even if you see it’s not going to work, you just don’t give up. You just go. Once you start, you are out there and you just go all the way until you bury yourself. You play the cards life is giving you, and for me it’s always been more about guts and heart. Today I tried to find one more ace up my sleeve.”

Over the line it was Elia Viviani (Cannondale) taking the bunch sprint while the overall classification remained unchanged. Jens Voigt’s consolation prize was winning the most aggressive jersey for stage four, an easy choice after his gallant effort.


Picture: PhotoSport International

“I felt like it was my home crowd” Jes went on to say. “On the climb there were so many people with ‘shut up legs’ and ‘farewell Jensie’ signs and shouting my name, it really sparked my desire to go out and give it my all and entertain the fans one more time. It ain’t over until the fat lady sings right? We still have three more stages to go…but I really wanted it today. Definitely. I made this clear in the team meeting to the boys. The race was made for me, it was a tough circuit but not killer climbs – just short and vicious. I just needed five years less of my life! If I would be 37 I would have won easy! But I am missing 3,4 or 5%…that is just the way nature goes. I gave it all and I don’t have any regrets.”

BMC’s race leader Van Garderen said he enjoyed a surprisingly stress-free stage in his first day as race leader. The top of the overall standings remained unchanged with three days to go: van Garderen leads Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) by 20 seconds and BMC Racing Team’s Ben Hermans is third, a further three seconds back.

“It seemed like everything went 100 percent right,” said the race’s defending champion. “We were able to control the start and let a break roll and then the sprinter’s teams took over. We got to sit on wheels all day, so it was a perfect scenario.” BMC Racing Team Sport Director Jackson Stewart said it was nice to see the team earn its fourth consecutive podium finish of the race. “It was also good that Martin got rewarded with a podium finish out of it,” Stewart said. “He is a guy who is always working unselfishly for our team leader.”


Picture: PhotoSport International

1 Viviani Elia, Cannondale 2:28:52
2 Kohler Martin, BMC Racing Team
3 Tvetcov Serghei, Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
4 Magner Ty, Hincapie Sportswear Development Team
5 Reijnen Kiel, UnitedHealthcare

23 Moses Thomas, Rapha Condor JLT
31 Sulzberger Bernard, Drapac Professional Cycling
44 Handley Richard, Rapha Condor JLT
48 Cuming Michael, Rapha Condor JLT
63 Norris Lachlan, Drapac Professional Cycling 0:25
65 Lapthorne Darren, Drapac Professional Cycling 0:38
67 Voigt Jens, Trek Factory Racing 0:52
74 House Kristian, Rapha Condor JLT
92 Porter Elliott, Rapha Condor JLT
103 Carthy Hugh, Rapha Condor JLT


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