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Bontrager-Livestrong picks up where it left off

TELLURIDE, Colorado (VN) — Another day, another best young rider jersey for Bontrager-Livestrong.

Gavin Mannion earned the jersey from Durango to Telluride on stage 1 of the USA Pro Challenge Monday, finishing in sixth place after a hard day in the San Juan mountains and rainstorms that boiled down to a bunch sprint. Trailing him in that completion are Eduard Beltran and Javier Gomez (EPM-UNE) and George Bennett (RadioShack-Nissan).

The American team also has general classification threat Joe Dombrowski — who’s expected to announce he’s riding for a ProTour team soon — poised for another solid result. He finished fourth in Utah.

But even for a climbing prodigy like Dombrowksi, the Garmin-Sharp-fueled start to the race was abrupt. Garmin immediately drilled the pace up the day’s first climb out of Durango, and attempted to steal Tom Danielson precious seconds on the general classification. In the process, it forced the entire peloton to chase, turning a lumpy stage 1 into a flat-out war just to stay in contention.

“The start was ripping fast and rather uncomfortable,” said a salt-stained Dombrowski at the team cars in Telluride. “We hit that little climb up to Fort Lewis [College] and there was a sprint all in the first 10k, so I was going backward and not feeling so great.”

Dombrowski recovered, and ultimately finished with the lead group.

“We’ll take it day by day and see what happens. I think the course in Utah was a bit more suited to me, maybe, but it really just depends how they race it here. I think guys are looking to race all week and see what happens,” he said. “There’s a lot of factors. Obviously the field’s really stacked.”

The Pro Challenge offers no rest for the weary Tuesday, with a stage from Montrose to Crested Butte that features a short, uphill finish.