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Winning Cures All, Farrar Flashes Old Form to Take Opener – 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Stage 1

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Telluride, CO – Bereft of a win this year, Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) has had a season to forget. But with benefit of being back on home soil, the 28-year old cured all his cycling illnesses with a sprint victory on Stage 1 of the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Telluride.

In a difficult first stage complete with two Waste Management sprints and three Nissan King of the Mountains competitions, the day ended with an all-out sprint to the finish, which saw Alessandro Bazzana (ITA) of Team Type 1-SANOFI take second and Damiano Caruso (ITA) of Liquigas-Cannondale claim third.

“This is the first time I’ve done a U.S. stage race since 2009,” added Farrar. “It’s special as an American to race in your own country and have fans that are rooting just for you, for our team. Racing in Colorado is important, and a big bonus for us.”

Comprised of 16 teams and 124 riders, which include reigning champion Levi Leipheimer and 2011 Tour de France Champion Cadel Evans, the field for the 2012 race started the day with a bang. After heading out of downtown, the riders approached the first Waste Management sprint in Durango, which was taken by Nathan Haas (AUS) of Garmin-Sharp, Javier Eduardo Gomez Pineda (COL) of EPM-UNE and Martin Velits (SVK) of Omega Pharma-QuickStep.

And with the sprint came the first breakaway of the day. Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp), who was buttressed by familiar terrain and a multitude of friends from Fort Lewis College, was one of the main protagonists of the day along with Garmin-Sharp teammates, Peter Stetina (USA) and Dave Zabriskie. They would lead a group of 22 that included such riders as Jens Voigt (GER) of RadioShack-Nissan-Trek and Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) of Liquigas-Cannondale, among others. Followed by a chase group and the peloton, they approached the first Nissan KOM of the day, Hesperus, a Cat. 3 climb that took the riders up to 8,224 ft. First to the top was Andrew Bajadali (USA) of Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit, followed by Freddy Orlando Piamonte Rodriguez (COL) of EPM-UNE and Matt Cooke (USA) of Team Exergy.

With a break that reached up to more than five minutes, the riders headed toward the second and final Waste Management sprint line in the town of Dolores. Motivated by the cheers of fans lining the sprint, Serghei Tvetcov (MOL) of Team Exergy took the max points, followed by Josh Atkins (NZL) of Bontrager Livestrong Team and Voigt.

After an attempted attack by Nibali and Danielson, a group of 10 riders formed off the front heading into the next KOM of the day – Lizard Head Pass (10,222 ft.) – as the chase group was swallowed back up into the peloton. Danielson pulled away to take the KOM, with Eduard Alexander Beltran Suarez (COL) of EPM-UNE and Nibali following close behind. With only six miles until the next and final KOM at Alta, Danielson and Stetina pulled away to take a 35-second gap over the rest of the break heading over the pass. Results for the KOM were Danielson, Stetina and Beltran.

With less than 10 miles to the finish, the riders stepped up the pace heading into Telluride. The gap was closed, followed by a short-lived attack by the Kings of the race –Edward King (USA) of Liquigas-Cannondale and Benjamin King (USA) of RadioShack-Nissan-Trek, and the field was brought together again for an all-out sprint to the finish in front of huge crowds of cheering fans. And in his first victory in more than a year, sprinter Farrar pulled out the win.

“We knew we had the top riders in the world racing in the 2012 USA Pro Challenge, but today, with the competitive level of racing we saw right out the gate, they showed they’re here to win,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the Pro Challenge. “We saw impressive crowds cheering on the riders at the start line in Durango all the way to the packed streets of Telluride this afternoon. We have an exciting race ahead of us.”

Results – Stage 1 – Durango to Telluride (202.2 km)
1. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Sharp 4:42:48
2. Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1 – Sanofi
3. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale

General Classification After Stage 1
1. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Sharp – 4:42:48
2. Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Team Type 1 – Sanofi
3. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
4. Fred Rodriguez (USA) Team Exergy
5. Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
6. Gavin Mannion (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team
7. Kiel Reijnen (USA) Team Type 1 – Sanofi
8. Alexander Candelario (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies
9. Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan
10. Jorge Camilo Castiblanco Cubides (Col) EPM – Une

podium
Jersey Leaders After Stage 1
Exergy Leader Jersey – Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Sharp
Waste Management Sprint Jersey – Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin – Sharp
Nissan King of the Mountains Jersey – Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin – Sharp
Evolve Most Aggressive Rider Jersey – Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin – Sharp
Aquadraat Best Young Rider Jersey – Gavin Mannion (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team

Next: Stage 2 – Montrose to Mt. Crested Butte


Photos: Leonard Basobas/lb-photos

Lenny B
Leonard Basobas - Among my many and varied interests are cycling and writing. I am deeply passionate about both. Strangely enough, neither has come very easy to me.I had such a horrible crash as a small child that I did not attempt to ride again until the 6th grade. From that point forward, you could say that I have had a love affair with two-wheels. When I was not out on my bike, I could be found tearing apart or putting back together other bikes. The frames and parts found in my parents’ basement today are a testament to that fact. Around the same time that I began riding again, a young rider named Greg Lemond had just won the U23 World Championships. Following his career was my entry point into the sport of cycling, but I never participated in organized racing until I was past my cycling prime. Today, a healthy curiosity about racing has me lining up on the road and in the nearest velodrome.In regard to writing, I am not a trained journalist. My writing, instead, strikes a creative bent in the form of short stories, at least when I not writing for my day job in clinical research. Although I have yet to be published for my creative writing, I have authored several abstracts and papers, and been published as the lead author for a paper in a well-known peer reviewed medical journal.I have covered the sport of cycling, as both writer and photographer, at such races as the Amgen Tour of California (2008 to 2014) and the US Pro Cycling Challenge. I was also the featured Guest Contributor for LIVESTRONG.com, commentating and moderating the site's live blogging feed during the 2009 Tour de France.