Tejay Van Garderen finished the USA Pro Challenge with a 90 second lead on his chaser, fellow BMC rider Mathias Frank, taking the win in the overall race.
“The first year the race was won by 11 seconds, last year was won by almost a minute and a half,” Van Garderen observed in the press conference following Stage Six of the race. “I think that’s because the climbs are so much bigger and the race itself was harder than ever.”
Van Garderen has long Colorado ties, having lived in both Fort Collins and Boulder before recently relocating to Aspen.
“I felt like this was a long time coming,” Van Garderen said in a press conference following the race. “I’ve been so close [to winning] before.”
Van Garderen had a disappointing July, including in the Tour de France.
“Maybe having a poor Tour helped me stay motivated for the USA Pro Challenge,” he said in the press conference. “After the Tour it seemed as thought the cycling world forgot about me a little bit and I wanted to try and make up for that.”
Stage Seven was a sprinters’ day, and saw riders racing eight circuits through downtown Denver for a total of 72.9 miles with three sprints and no significant climbs. United Healthcare Pro Cycling teammates and Boulder-based riders Lucas Euser and Ben King spent much of the day in a breakaway, only to lose their lead in the final lap.
Van Garderen, Frank and Tom Danielson (Garmin Sharp), who took third in the race, finished en masse with stage winner Peter Sagan, so their standings from Stage Six carried through to the finish.
Matt Cooke (Jamis Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Homes), who had carried the Nissan King of the Mountains jersey from the first stage of the race, will take that jersey home.
“It’s a bit of a dream come true,” Cooke said in the press conference following the race.
Sagan, who won an unprecedented four of seven stages, won the Clif Bar Sprint Jersey.
Lachlan David Morton (Garmin Sharp) took the Colorado State University Best Young Rider Jersey, while King, of team RadioShack Leopard Trek, took home the overall FirstBank Most Courageous Rider Jersey.
“The 2013 USA Pro Challenge was our best edition ever and we’ve learned more and more each year,” Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge, said in a press conference. “These athletes gave us a great show, so thanks to them.”