Tom Danielson Soloes to Victory in Stage 3 of 2012 USAPCC
A very exciting stage 3 of the 2012 USA Pro Challenge concluded with Colorado-resident Tom Danielson (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp taking the stage victory after a solo breakaway, which lasted all the way to the finish line in Aspen.
The main peloton tailed Danielson so close behind him that it needed just two additional seconds to complete the stage. Damiano Caruso (ITA) of Team Liquigas-Cannondale powered to a second place finish in the stage and Denmark's Jakob Fuglsang of Team RadioShack-Nissan took third on a course packed with cheering fans.
In a very close fight for the general classification leader position, Danielson’s Team Garmin-Sharp teammate Christian Vande Velde (USA) claimed the Exergy Leader Jersey.
"That was awesome! Since I’m a Colorado guy, there’s a lot of responsibility there," stage winner Danielson said after having recovered from his exhausting performance. "I’ve dreamed about going over Independence Pass and for it to come true the way it did is something I’ll never forget."
"I’m incredibly proud of the team and what we did today, and every day," a proud Vande Velde commented after being celebrated on the podium. "Especially with how aggressive we’ve been. If nothing else, it has been a rewarding and fruitful experience."
Stage 3 took the riders on a 130.6 mile ride from Gunnison to downtown Aspen, facing them with the two famous passes of Cottonwood and Independence Pass. After rolling out of a neutral start in Gunnison, the riders showed they were ready to compete, immediately reaching speeds of 35 mph. With a breakaway of about 18 riders forming leading into the first Waste Management sprint in Almont, the results were Jesse Anthony (USA) of Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, Kiel Reijnen (USA) of Team Type 1-Sanofi and Serghei Tvetcov (MOL) of Team Exergy, respectively.
US-based BMC Racing Team led the front of the field, riding hard and trying to make sure the breakaway group didn't gain too much of an advantage. As the riders reached the first Nissan KOM of the day – the category 3 Taylor Park (9,526 ft.) - Camilo Castiblanco (COL) of EPM-UNE took max points, followed by Team Exergy riders Serghei Tvetcov (MOL) and Matt Cooke (USA).
As the riders approached the second KOM of the day – Cat. 1 Cottonwood Pass (12,126 ft.) – there was some reshuffling in the break with Anthony trying to make a move, getting caught and Tvetcov, Reijnen and Valerio Agnoli (ITA) of Team Liquigas-Cannondale all dropping back to the peloton.
With 1 km to go until reaching Cottonwood Pass, the break dwindled to only five riders, including Danielson, Fabio Aru (ITA) of Astana Pro Team, Dave Zabriskie (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp, Francisco Jarley Colorado Hernandez (COL) of EPM-UNE and Jeffry Louder (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team. Colorado Hernandez reached the top of the Pass first, followed by Danielson and Zabriskie. And as things started to settle down after the KOM, Michael Friedman (USA) of Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies joined the break.
At the next Waste Management sprint in Buena Vista, Zabriskie crossed the line first, followed by Louder and Danielson. Shortly after, riders started to fall off the break and get absorbed back into the peloton. First it was Aru and Friedman. Then, after doing a good part of the work all day, Zabriskie, followed quickly by Louder.
With only two riders left into the break heading toward the final KOM of the day – Cat. 1 Independence Pass (12,095 ft.) – tensions started to grow, but Danielson attacked in advance of the KOM setting him up to take max points and secure the Nissan King of the Mountains Jersey for another day. He was followed by Colorado and Freddy Orlando Piamonte Rodriguez (COL) of EPM-UNE as a wall of enthusiastic fans cheered them on at the top of the climb.
With Danielson now on a solo mission headed straight for the finish in Aspen, the peloton took chase and narrowed the gap significantly to only a matter of seconds, but it wasn’t enough to catch the Colorado resident, and Danielson took the stage win.
Vande Velde took the Exergy Leader Jersey. Caruso claimed the Waste Management Sprint Jersey. Danielson held onto the Nissan King of the Mountains Jersey. Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) of Team Bontrager-Livestrong kept the Aquadraat Best Young Rider Jersey. Colorado Hernandez was awarded the Evolve Most Aggressive Rider Jersey for his effort on the climbs.