Clear blue skies and remarkable crowds welcomed the riders to the finish in Steamboat Springs, as 22-year-old Elia Viviani received a strong leadout from his Liquigas-Cannondale teammate Daniel Oss to take the win. Michael Mørkøv (Saxo Bank SunGard) was second and Kenny Van Hummel (Skil-Shimano), third on stage 4 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
No changes on GC. Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) retained the overall lead with two stages to go.
With beautiful weather against a stunning backdrop, the 82.8-mile Stage 4 began with two neutral laps around the city of Avon. Although there were no categorized KOMs on this stage, it was filled with rolling hills through beautiful ranching country that would still prove to make a challenging route.
A breakaway of three riders formed early in the stage and included Stefen Denifl (Leopard-Trek), and teammates Cristhian Montoya and Janier Acevedo of Gobernacion Indeportes Antioquia. They were chased and soon joined by a duo from Team Type 1-sanofi Vladimir Efimkin and Rubens Bertogliati. The breakaway of five managed to maintain a two-minute lead over the peloton for a good part of the race making Acevedo the virtual leader on the road.
In the only sprint competition of the day, Denifil crossed the line at Oak Creek first, followed by Acevedo and Bertogliati. With no KOMs in the stage, the riders would focus on the stage win for the rest of the day.
The Liquigas-Cannondale team had their eye on the sprint finis, putting riders in the rotation early in the stage but really took control later on. With the green train at the front leading the chase, the final riders in the break were swallowed up with 4.5 miles to go. With a wide, open road ahead the pack was spread out across the road, no team was able to take control at the front with Liquigas-Cannondale, UnitedHealthcare and Skil-Shimano all taking turns. Ultimately, Viviani timed it perfectly, coming around Oss to take the win.
- Quiznos Leader Jersey – Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Team RadioShack
- Nissan King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey – Walter Pedraza Morales (COL) of UNE-EPM
- Smashburger Sprint Jersey – Elia Viviani (ITA) of Liquigas Cannondale
- Sheets Best Young Rider’s Jersey – Tejay Van Garderen (USA) of HTC-Highroad
- Exergy Most Aggressive Jersey – Alexander Efimkin (RUS) of Team Type 1-sanofi
Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale). “I think this victory is important for the team because Cannondale is a very important sponsor for us. We are in a good period right now because the rest of the team had a big win in the Vuelta yesterday. Today was just another demonstration that Liquigas-Cannondale is confident and good.”
On the Smashburger Sprint Jersey. “For me the Smashburger Sprint Jersey is very important – in the first stages I sprinted for this jersey. Tomorrow is a good stage for us because the last kilometer is in the climb and for me it is good for the last stage. I think tomorrow will work for us.”
On his results in the U.S.. “With the Tour of Utah and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, this month in the U.S. has been a very good month for me and I like that.”
Levi Leipheimer (Radioshack). “Today was a nice day because it was a little bit shorter and flat, and I think all the riders were looking forward to that – it’s nice to have a mixture of stages. Liquigas did a lot of work and they deserved the win.”
On his team today. “Mission accomplished. The goal was to defend the Quiznos Leader Jersey and to do so with as little work as possible for my teammates. They had to do some work, but we had help from other teams. Today went as good as we could’ve hoped and we’re another day closer to Denver.”
On whether the teams are evenly matched. “We have a slight advantage because we are in the lead – an 11 second advantage. It is always more difficult to take the lead than it is to defend it. We’ve done a good job to take the lead and now our job is to defend it, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.”
On tomorrow. “I think there is a lot of chance for the other riders and competitors to attack and put us under pressure and I’m not going to assume otherwise. Tomorrow is a big obstacle on the way to Denver and we just have to take it day by day.”
Vladimir Efimkin (Team Type 1-sanofi-aventis). “I would like to have one of the other jerseys too, but if I can get this jersey that is okay.”
On the crowds. “There were a lot of people and it’s been really nice to race in this race. I think everything is very good and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge has been successful so far. The public has been very nice and it is fun to race here.”