Peter Sagan (Cannondale) won stage 6 of the USA Pro Challenge on Saturday.
With 10km to go in the 185.4km leg from Loveland to Fort Collins the remnants of the day’s early break — Mick Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff), Thomas Dekker (Garmin-Sharp), Javier Megias (Novo Nordisk), Josh Edmondson (Sky) — held just a half minute’s advantage over a fracturing peloton, led by Cannondale.
As the bunch closed in Megias attacked and Rogers followed. But it was too late — what remained of the peloton ran them down with 5km to go, and a sprint finish was in the offing. Sagan was in the bunch, as were Fred Rodriguez (Jelly Belly) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC).
Rider after rider tried to get away and avoid the inevitable, the last of them Rory Sutherland (Saxo), but it was not to be. Having burned through his teammates while chasing the breakaway, Sagan free-lanced his way forward, shooting off Rodriguez’s wheel and blasted across the line first to collect his third stage win in the Pro Challenge. Luka Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) finished second with Van Avermaet third.
“Thank you for all my teammates because they did good work all the day, pulling back the breakaway,” Sagan said. “Every rider from my team did the maximum, I think, and after we take the breakaway, the last 10km for the sprint, I hadn’t riders from my team for the sprint.”
Sagan confessed that he was a “little bit” surprised to have three wins at this year’s Pro Challenge, saying he came to Colorado to prepare for the Canadian WorldTour events.
Tejay van Garderen (BMC) retains the overall lead going into Sunday’s finale in Denver. Teammate Mathias Frank sits second at 1:30 with Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) third at 1:42.
“Today was really hard and fast from the start,” said van Garderen. “There were two Garmin guys in the break, so we wanted to make sure we kept it under control. It was a hard day. I never felt my jersey was under threat, but it still was a hard day to get through.
“For a lot of teams this was their last chance at a result, and it was a good day for a break to get away and stay away. So everyone was under pressure — but no one was willing to let a break go too far.”
The Rocky Mountain High School grad said the crowds were something to see during his homecoming.
“Colorado is a cycling-crazy state, and particularly today — now that we’re into the weekend — the crowds were incredible,” he said. “I think every student from my old high school was out on [Horsetooth Reservoir] today.”
Sunday’s final stage is a 116.5km circuit race in Denver.
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for more from Fort Collins.