Colorado Springs, CO – With three finishing circuits slated for the finale in downtown Colorado Springs, the sprinters and their teams were all but assured of a "fasten your seat-belt" type conclusion to Stage 5 of the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
The remnants of the day's predominant breakaway were first to enter the finishing circuits, clinging to the faint hope of securing a victory. But in the end, Garmin-Sharp and Tyler Farrar simply overwhelmed the field. The 28-year old American took the win in a bunch sprint, as Taylor Phinney (USA) of BMC Racing Team came in second and Alessandro Bazzana (ITA) of Team Type 1-SANOFI in third.
For the second year in a row, the mountain town of Breckenridge came out in full force to support the star-studded, international field of riders. After two boisterous neutral laps around downtown, the peloton took off from Breckenridge on a 117.9m/189.7 km route that would include one Cat. 1 Nissan King of the Mountains competition at Hoosier Pass (11,541 ft.) and two Waste Management Sprints at Fairplay and Woodland Park on their way to the finish in downtown Colorado Springs that would include three circuit laps.
With the KOM coming only 10.1 miles into the stage, the riders started out aggressively launching an attack almost immediately after heading out of the neutral section. With nine riders in the break, Francisco Jarley Colorado Hernandez (COL) of EPM-UNE crossed the line at the top of Hoosier Pass first to take max points, followed closely by Sergey Firsanov (RUS) of RusVelo and Biao Liu (CHN) of Champion System Pro Cycling Team.
With seven riders remaining in the break heading down from the KOM, including Firsanov, Liu, Oliver Zaugg (SUI) of RadioShack-Nissan-Trek, Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) of Liquigas-Cannondale, Ivan Santaromita (ITA) of BMC Racing Team, Carter Jones (USA) of Bissell Pro Cycling and Yevgeniy Nepomnyachshiy (KAZ) of Astana Pro Team, they quickly approached the first sprint of the day. Crossing the line first in Fairplay was Firsanov, followed by Zaugg in second and Liu in third.
With the gap reaching more than five minutes at times, the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team and Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda riders were doing a lot of the work at the front of the peloton in an effort to close the gap. And to the cheers of huge crowds lining the second sprint in Woodland Park, the riders posted similar results to the first sprint with Firsanov in first, followed by Liu and Jones.
Upon reaching majestic Garden of the Gods, Jones launched an attack, but was reeled back in quickly by Nibali who, in turn, launched a counter-attack and was soon joined by Zaugg and Firsanov. As the riders reached downtown Colorado Springs, the rest of the breakaway was absorbed by the peloton leaving only the three leaders out in front, but with average speeds on the circuits reaching 30 mph, the group was soon altogether again. And in an all-out sprint to the finish, Farrar took home the stage win, his second of the 2012 race.
“This was the day I had always marked, and the team did a lot of work to make sure that it all worked out,” said Farrar. “We spent a lot of energy today that we could’ve conserved, but I’m thankful they put their faith in me to win.”
Results – Stage 5 – Breckenridge to Colorado Springs (km)
1. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp
2. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing
3. Alessandro Bazzana (ITA) Team Type 1 – SANOFI
In what is still a very close race for the Exergy Leader Jersey, Tejay van Garderen of BMC Racing Team maintained his lead heading into the penultimate day of racing.
“Tomorrow is going to be really hard. People keep forgetting about Levi. I think that’s a mistake. Out of Tom and Christian, he’s the better time trialist and the better climber. He’s only eight seconds behind. I’m really worried about him. Obviously I know Christian’s in good form, but it’s not just a game of me vs. Christian. It’s going to be hard because it’s a climb, but it’s going to be tactical. I can follow one guy, not three. We’ll see how it plays out.”
General Classification After Stage 5
1. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
2. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Sharp
3. Ivan Rovny (Rus) RusVelo - 0:00:06
4. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-Quickstep - 0:00:08
5. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team - 0:00:12
6. Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team
7. Ramiro Rincon Diaz (Col) EPM - Une - 0:00:13
8. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - Sharp - 0:00:15
9. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale - 0:00:17
10. Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan
Jersey Leaders After Stage 5
Exergy Leader Jersey – Tejay Van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team
Waste Management Sprint Jersey – Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Sharp
Nissan King of the Mountains Jersey – Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin - Sharp
Evolve Most Aggressive Rider Jersey – Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Liquigas-Cannondale
Aquadraat Best Young Rider Jersey - Joe Dombrowski (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team
Next: Stage 6 – Golden to Boulder (103.3 miles/km)
Next: Stage 6 - Saturday, Aug. 25 – Golden to Boulder (165.5 km/102.8 mi)
Start Time: 11:10 a.m. MT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:15-4 p.m. MT
Satellite Feed Time: 5 – 5:15 p.m. MT
Stage 6 will depart from Golden, a second-year host city and site of one of the largest crowds in the 2011 race, but not before several circuit laps around downtown provide fans with the chance to cheer on their favorite riders. The peloton will then head north on CO 93 en route to Boulder, a city very well known for its bicycle culture. Upon arrival in downtown Boulder, the sprinters will have an opportunity to earn valuable points with a sprint line adjacent to the Pearl Street Mall and the USA Pro Challenge expo area.
After the sprint points have been awarded, the route will head up Boulder Canyon along CO 119 towards Nederland and the day’s first KOM competition. Joining the cycling fans in this small mountain town will be the 14th Annual Nedfest, a music, arts and microbrew festival. Riders will continue climbing as they are faced with ascents exceeding 9,300 ft. on the incredible Peak to Peak Highway before a long and fast descent into the town of Lyons, where they will encounter another sprint line and the annual Rocky Mountain Folk Festival.
Classic local climbs up Lefthand Canyon and Lee Hill Rd. present the next set of challenges for the riders before they return for one final pass through downtown Boulder. In a dramatic race to the finish, the riders will head up “The Hill” to Flagstaff Mountain where a 3.5-mile vertical, dramatic race to the finish line at Sunrise Amphitheater will commence.
Photos: Leonard Basobas/lb-photos