Sprinter Elia Viviani of the Liquigas-Cannondale did it again at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Benefiting from a great leadout from his teammate Daniel Oss, Viviani won stage 5 in a mad bunch sprint besting Jaime Castaneda (UNE-EPM) for his second consecutive victory in Colorado. Oss held on for third.
With strong support from his team, Levi Leipheimer (Radioshack) remains in yellow with one stage to go.
A surprising finish on a much harder stage than on paper. It started according to expectations with early attacks on the fist climb up Rabbit Ears Pass in the first 10 miles into the 105.2miles (170.2 km) stage. But the early break was quickly reeled back in as the field shattered under the pressure set by Radioshack. So much so, that it was down to about 25 riders by the time they crested. Soon after, Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank) attacked and was quickly joined by four others, Janier Acevedo (Gobernacion Indeportes Antioquia), Andy Schleck (Leopard-Trek), Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Tom Peterson (Garmin-Cervelo).
Acevedo was a danger man at only 2:36 down on GC but the five worked well together pushing the pace to get a gap of over two minutes. And then bad luck for Acevedo who flatted out of the break who was quite happy to push on without him because it meant that Radioshack would give them a longer leash. Which they did now that Basso, as over 6 minutes, was the highest placed on GC.
The four continued to work together on the exposed with Radioshack behind keeping the gap hovering at the four minute mark with 42 miles to go. And that bought UnitedHealthcare to the front, working to protect their GC man Rory Sutherland‘s top 10 standing threatened by Basso.
The gap started to slowly come down, 3:05 with 15 miles to go but then the road started to go up again, for the second climb of the day, Swan Mountain where Schleck put in his attack. He was only able to get 10 seconds on the rest of the break by the time he crested and the front group was back together on the other side.
The cat and mouse games started between the riders in the break slowing them down while behind them the field was charging. Ten Dam, especially, put in dig after dig but was not able to drop the others and all were scooped up by the charging field with around 700 meters to go. The final sprint was on.
No changes on GC. Leipheimer still has 11 seconds on Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervelo), 17 seconds on Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad), 21 seconds on Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo) and 53 seconds on George Hincapie (BMC).
- 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 – Andy Schleck (LUX) of Team Leopard-Trek
Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale). “The race was very good for Team Liquigas-Cannondale because Ivan was in front all day and me and Daniel Oss were ready for the sprint. In the sprint, Oss made perfect work for me.”
On the tactic for the team. “If Oss and I were in the first group, the SmashBurger Sprinter Jersey is for me because I am faster than Oss and the team wanted to win this stage.”
Levi Leipheimer (Radioshack). “Today was more difficult than we had imagined. The first climb, Rabbit Ears Pass out of Steamboat was long and hard and a lot of people suffered, there were groups everywhere. It took another hour for everything to regroup, and then there was a strong breakaway with Andy and Ivan. They were six minutes behind so that gave us some breathing room. The team was unbelievable today really. They’re stepping up, they’re digging deep, we have a young team here but they’re really rising to the occasion. The most heard remark I had after the stage today was ‘man your team was awesome’. They really deserve a lot of recognition for what they did today.”
On the chase and the last climb. “You could never win this race without a team or without a team as strong as RadioShack. They were not only strong, but very smart and calm about the situation. We were able to keep it together and let a breakaway go that had nobody really close in the General Classification and we were able to let the gap get to five minutes, which was fine with us. When the other teams started to chase hard we were able to sit back and relax a little. We knew there would be attacks, especially on Swan Mountain. Ivan Rovny did a great job when we crested over the KOM and when I looked over my shoulder there were less than ten riders, which is a sign of a hard climb and a hard day.”
On tomorrow. “I’m sure they’re going to hit us hard on Lookout Mountain. Guys like Tom Danielson who lives in Boulder, I’m sure he’s going to try to do something. We’re going to have to do it again tomorrow but hopefully, Liquigas will be motivated again for another sprint into Denver, that’s what I hope.”
On whether a win tomorrow would mean more to him than his wins at the Amgen Tour of California and the Tour de Suisse. “I don’t know, it isn’t fair to compare race to race. The Tour de Suisse was the 75th edition and all the greats of the sport have won there, so historically speaking that was a really big win. But if you look at the crowds in a place like the USA Pro Cycling Challenge or the Amgen Tour of California, that is really saying something. All the wins are great and I would definitely like to win tomorrow.”
Andy Schleck (Leopard-Trek). “For me, I think for the group, it was obviously attacking in the last climb, that’s my strength but it’s not a long climb so I could not get more than 15 seconds out of it. And then in the end, straight into the finish town and they were riding three behind me, so … It was for me, I had to gamble, I had in my head, I think I could have won the sprint in the group but there was no option or I win or I don’t care. I had that in my mind, I want to win, I don’t want to be second or third. Ivan and me we had the same thoughts and that’s why they caught us with 300 meters to go.”
On taking a risk. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, it’s like that in life. I want to win a stage, actually I picked yesterday and today for the chance and I took the chance today but it didn’t work. I might try tomorrow or I’ll have to come back next year.”
Cadel Evans (BMC). On his early attacks. “The problem for me to make a difference is that I have to drop all the strongest guys in the race which doesn’t work well for everyone else in the race. I tried a couple of times because we didn’t have a lot to lose. We could have raced real conservatively and maybe done something but also maybe then nothing would have come about it. When you don’t have much to lose, tried to make some opportunity for ourselves but didn’t work out today.”
Jeff Louder (BMC), 5th on the stage. “It was really intense and then really intense at the finish Both times we were caught, I guess, on the back foot on Rabbit Ears and Swan Mountain. We were a little bit behind but we stuck together and we got Cadel and George back. And then in the finale, I was trying to keep George in there and the way the scrum worked out, I basically just floated up there and realized that I just kept on going I might get a result. It was nice to do, it was kind of a sprint that worked out that way but it was a really hard stage.”
On tomorrow. “I’m tired, it’s been a hard tour but I’m motivated, I love racing at home, I love racing in the mountains at high altitude. For me personally, it’s been a great race, it’s been really fun racing with Cadel, George and the whole team, it’s been a great team event so far so I’m just enjoying myself, but I will be happy to be done tomorrow.”