Today’s Pro Cycling Challenge saw an early breakaway that held the lead for most of the descent to Colorado Springs before losing it in the final circuits through town.
The breakaway group included a few names that haven’t been catching much attention this week — including Boulder’s Carter Jones (Bissell), winner of best young rider jerseys at stage races this year and last — lost lead time headed into the Springs.
A lead by minutes shrank to seconds, with the breakaway maintaining 500 meters of distance ahead of the peloton coming into the final curves through Garden of the Gods. Last year’s time trial started where this year’s Stage Five finished, so returning riders knew those twists well. They were in city blocks in Colorado Springs before the gap truly closed.
Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) was a solid member of the breakaway for much of the stage, but finished 1:17 after the leader. Commentators speculated that Nibali, 27, was going after a stage win but, more importantly, the rider who placed third in the Tour de France this year was after a good training ride for the upcoming World Championships in the Netherlands. His ride did earn him the most aggressive rider jersey.
The circuits through Colorado springs saw cyclists attempting breakaways before being sucked back into the peloton — one by accident from an Italian rider who might have been drawn out by an early break by Garmin-Sharp team rider Nathan Hass.
Jones was among several riders to make a breakaway move during the 2.4-mile circuits in Colorado Springs. The 23-year-old rider charged ahead, before being absorbed back to the peloton.
It was a good day for the young men, including Taylor Phinny, 22, who finished second in the stage after sprinter Tyler Farrar burst ahead to the finish line. Farrar, 28, who bagged his second stage win of the week and will be back in the lime green sprinter’s jersey, was clocked at 45 mph crossing the finish line.
Van Garderen, 24, kept his hold on the yellow jersey and is expected to carry it through to Denver, though the Boulder stage on Saturday will be brutal for all concerned.
Van Garderen’s BMC teammate Cadel Evans was pacemaking for the peloton, BMC riders stacked at the front, keeping control and keeping Van Garderen’s victory in mind.
In 2011, Evans was the first Australian ever to win the Tour de France. He got a flat tire coming into the final circuit, leaving George Hincapie, who retires Sunday, in the lead.
Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo) holds on to the king of the mountain jersey, the breakaway group snagging most of the points in that category today, though Jorge Castiblanco (EPM) did snag a couple and is just three points behind.
Today’s stage saw cyclists crossing 118 miles in just under four hours.
Of 124 riders who started the race, 103 are left.
The race in Boulder starts at 11:10 a.m. Saturday. Wristbands to catch the Flagstaff finish will be available the day of the race on Baseline Road at the base of Flagstaff by Gregory Canyon, at the View Point Trailhead, and at Realization Point by the entrance to the amphitheatre finish. Commemorative silicone wristbands are available at local cycling shops. Additional information and details on the downtown festival are available at www.usaproboulder.com.