Van Garderen vaults into USA Pro lead
BEAVER CREEK — Tejay van Garderen in yellow.
Van Garderen, who recently moved to Aspen to be closer to his wife’s family, pulled on the yellow jersey Thursday in the USA Pro Challenge. He finished second to Colombian Janier Acevedo in the hilly and rainy fourth stage of the race across Colorado.
Acevedo, riding for the U.S. team Jamis-Hagens Berman, completed the 102.9-mile stage from Steamboat Springs to Beaver Creek in 4 hours, 9 minutes, 8 seconds.
The leaders finished in a heavy rainstorm at Beaver Creek.
Van Garderen, the American BMC rider who began the day in fourth place, conceded the stage win to the Colombian but was given the same finishing time.
Van Garderen, who grew up in Montana, took a 4-second lead over teammate Mathias Frank, of Switzerland.
Frank finished third in the stage, 13 seconds behind.
“I felt good (Thursday), and I was confident,” said Acevedo, who also won a mountaintop finish stage in May at the Tour of California. “I had good legs.”
Acevedo, who began the day in 13th place, moved to third overall — 30 seconds back.
“Garmin was trying to make it hard, and they did a good job; they dwindled the field to nothing,” said van Garderen, who finished third and second in the previous two USA Pro Challenge editions. “But I think they underestimated me and my teammates a little bit.”
Van Garderen, Acevedo and Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) crested the steepest climb of the day at Bachelor Gulch.
They had a steep descent and a steep mile climb back to the finish at the resort.
Danielson — fourth overall, 40 seconds back — fell off the pace quickly and the top-two finishers rode together to the finish in hard rain.
“It was wet and tricky, and Danielson looked a little timid,” said van Garderen, the Tour of California winner. “And so I said, ‘OK, let’s go for it.’ And we were able to get a little bit of a gap.”
Van Garderen and Acevedo pedaled to the finish without attacks.
“My goal was to distance myself from Danielson,” said van Garderen, who finished fifth in the 2012 Tour de France but placed 45th this year in cycling’s biggest race. “Acevedo’s goal was for the stage, so we worked together well to accommodate each other’s goals.”
Previous race leader Lachlan Morton (Garmin-Sharp) of Australia paced teammate Danielson early in the final climb, then fell back and conceded his two-day tenure as the race leader.
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