With a note on his top tube that said “shut up, legs,” Jens Voigt took off ahead of the break at 12:15 p.m., just 30 minutes into Stage Four of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, and quickly established a lead that would not be lost. He stayed ahead for 90 miles of the 97.3-mile race with 8,152 feet of climbing, and finished six minutes before the peloton to win the stage.
Voigt, who began his cycling career in 1997, was after his first win in two years. The 40-year-old cyclist has said that nine times out of 10, a breakaway doesn’t work, but it’s for that one time that it does work that you try it.
He led the way through the day’s king of the mountain sections and sprints, snagging points coming over Independence and Tennessee passes (both over 10,000 feet in elevation) first.
Unsurprisingly, Voigt won the Most Aggressive Rider jersey for the stage.
Jorge Castiblanco of the Colombian team EPM was second over Independence Pass, and won enough points over the day to put himself six points behind Tom Danielson’s lead on KOM points and his hold on the King of the Mountain jersey.
The battle between Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) for the yellow jersey once again came down to a head count, with the two of them finishing in the same time group, but van Garderen ahead of Vande Velde. The distance was enough to earn van Garderen the yellow jersey for the fifth stage.
Andreas Kloden, a teammate of Voigt’s on RadioShack Nissan Trek, finished second in the stage with van Garderen right behind him for third place. RadioShack’s team held three of the top five positions for the stage.
Overall showings have van Garderen in the lead with Vande Velde behind him. Ivan Rovny, of the Russian cycling team RusVelo, is six seconds behind their time and Levi Leipheimer, of Omega Pharma Quickstep, has held on to fourth place and is just eight seconds behind the leader’s time. He finished fourth in the stage.
Riders spent most of the day above 9,000 feet and dealt with rain, cross winds and temperatures that dropped to 51 degrees. The sprint section in Leadville aimed them into an intimidating bank of storm clouds and they covered miles in their rain gear. An estimated 10 riders dropped out of the peloton.
Stage Five starts in Breckenridge and finishes in Colorado Springs. The stage is expected to be a sprinter’s course, with Garmin-Sharp’s Tyler Farrar back in the spotlight, though it starts by crossing Hoosier Pass. Farrar is five points behind Damien Caruso, of team Liquigas Cannondale, in the contest for the sprinters jersey. Caruso will hold it for another day. Danielson is third in that race but rides again Friday in the read King of the Mountain jersey.
The video feed struggled a bit Thursday, but map updates and running commentary will keep you up to speed at www.radioshacktourtracker.usaprocyclingchallenge.com.