The USA Pro Challenge heads to the Front Range today for the final two days of competition. Stage 6’s Loveland-to-Fort Collins race gets rolling with an 11:35 a.m. start. The race concludes Sunday in Denver with the downtown Denver Circuit Course, scheduled for a 1 p.m. start.
While the race ends Sunday, today’s stage has been referred to as the “last chance,” because it may be the only remaining opportunity to make a big move in the general classification (G.C.) competition. Short of a big mistake, crash or mechanical issue, it will be hard to make up more than a couple seconds of time on Sunday. But with a tight G.C. pack anything could still happen. Last year’s race came down to Denver.
American BMC rider Tejay van Garderen will bring a 1 minute, 30 second G.C. lead into today’s stage. Fellow BMC rider Mathais Frank of Switzerland sits in second with Garmin-Sharp’s Tom Danielson, of Boulder, on his heels at 1:42 back.
The tight race between Danielson and van Garderen has built up in the last two stages, with strong efforts from their respective teams.
Today’s story will center on the two powerhouse teams, Garmin and BMC. Can Danielson and his teammates make a move? Or will van Garderen be able to maintain?
The peloton will jump from yesterday’s Stage 5 Vail Time Trial straight to a stage start in Loveland. After five stages at high altitude, racers may find themselves with a little more oxygen in their blood as today’s start is at 4,971 feet. While the course includes a nearly 3,000-foot climb up to Devils Gulch, it will be a big day for the swift among the pack as the course has three sprints and only one King of the Mountain.
Look for the big climbers to try to make a move on the Devils Gulch segment. After the gulch there will be one final opportunity for a rider to make a strong move on the steep rolling hills, before the finish in Fort Collins.
The three sprints on the day are at Windsor, Loveland and Estes Park with a final KOM challenge at Devils Gulch.
Organizers expect riders to finish the 115.2-mile course close to 4:30 p.m.
Look for TV coverage on NBC or NBC Sports Network, and also online through Tour Tracker at www.usaprocyclingchallenge.com.