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Busche fighting for podium spot at Pro Challenge

MONARCH MOUNTAIN, Colorado (VN) — While Gamin-Sharp and BMC Racing have spent the first three days of the USA Pro Challenge closely watching each other — with each team taking ownership of the race lead at one point — Wisconsin native Matthew Busche (Trek Factory Racing) is quietly vying for a podium finish.

Busche was active on the final climb to Monarch Mountain Wednesday, pushing the tempo late after the group had whittled down to a select group of GC contenders. He finished eighth, 45 seconds behind stage winner and new race leader Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), and now sits sixth overall, 46 seconds down.

A pro since 2009, and the U.S. national road champ in 2011, the 29-year-old Busche finished 11th overall at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah two weeks ago. Among his best stage-race results are second overall at the 2012 Tour of Utah, and sixth overall at the 2013 Amgen Tour of California. His best result at the Pro Challenge was eighth, in 2012. He finished 98th in his Tour de France debut last month.

At the start of stage 3, in Gunnison, Busche said the Monarch stage would be “a test.”

“It’s been a good first two stages for me. I’ve been in the right places at the right time,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty strong. Hopefully it’s a good sign that I’ve recovered from the Tour and am reaping some of those benefits. Today will be another test.”

Following the stage, VeloNews asked Busche to rate his performance on the Monarch climb.

“It was kind of up and down,” he said. “The first time up Monarch, when [Tom] Danielson attacked, I got dropped. But the team did an awesome job to help bring me back on the downhill, and on those circuits [in Salida.] I wasn’t sure how I was going to respond on the last climb. Evidently I responded okay. I think everyone was pretty dead. It’s been a hard race, with the altitude and everything. I just did my best to follow the attacks.

“There was a big lull at 3km to go, and I decided I should try something,” Busche continued. “I got a gap. I don’t really know what happened behind, but when they came by, I saw Tinkoff pulling, full gas, so I don’t think there’s anything different I could have done. I basically went all in. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. At least I tried.

“I’m happy that I tried, but a little disappointed that I probably lost something [on GC] in the end, but I guess it’s better to go down fighting than to go down without trying. It’s not over. It’s a long race yet. There’s still plenty of racing. Maybe someone else will crack, or I’ll have a really good time trial. We’ll see what happens.”