Stage 5 of the 2011 Pro Cycling Challenge finished against the winter ski slops of Breckenridge CO where Elia Viviani ITA, Liquigas-Cannondale claimed his second consecutive win in a mass sprint.
Andy Schleck,NED, Team Leopard-Trek, Tour de France second-place finisher attempted to win his first-ever American race, but came 500 meters short of the win in Breckenridge. Crowds lined the road leading into town but nowhere were they bigger than top of Swan mountain. Crowds that Levi Leipheimer compared to the pure fan support found at the top of the mountain stages in the Tour de France both in numbers and enthusiasm.
“If you look at the crowds in a place like the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, that is really saying something,” said Leipheimer. “I would definitely like to win tomorrow. We’ve done a good job so far and we just need to carry the momentum one more day.”
The 105.8-mile route from Steamboat Springs to Breckenridge wove down highway 9 and included category 2, Rabbit Ears Pass, and category 3, Swan Mountain, climbs as well as two intermediate sprint competitions.
Riders headed 12 miles South for the first King of the Mountain points at Rabbit Ears Pass, the peloton stretched out and a 20 rider lead formed. Rafael Montiel COL, Gobernacion de Antioquia crossed the line first, followed by Beltran and Laurens Ten Dam NED, Rabobank.
Cresting over Rabbit Ears pass a five-man break formed including Schleck, Tom Peterson USA, of Garmin-Cervelo, Ivan Basso ITA, Liquigas-Cannondale, Ten Dam and Javier Acevedo of Gobernacion de Antioquia. The five men streached their lead to four minuets and would stay out front for the majority of the race.
Peterson took the firs sprint of the day in Kremmling followed by Basso and Schleck. The second sprint was is Dillon where Schleck took maximum sprint points, followed by Ten Dam and Basso.
The day’s final KOM was Swan Mountain, five miles out side Breckinridge. Swan Mountain is a short, but difficult climb that provided one last obstacle before the finish. The peloton had brought down the defecet to 2 minuets when Schleck attacked the breakaway and crested the mountain to take the final KOM, followed by Basso and Ten Dam.
On the other side riders descended at speeds of 60 mph; Schleck broke away from the group but was rejoined by Basso and Ten Dam. Peterson fell off the back and rejoined the chase group, but managed to re-bridge the gap back up to the break.
With only miles to go the three remaining riders played a dangerous game of cat and mouse, each testing the other until it was too late and the three were swallowed by the approaching peloton.
In an all-out mass sprint for the finish, to the thunderous roar of the fans, Elia Viviani ITA, of Liquigas Cannondale crossed the line first his hands thrust into the air for his second consecutive stage win. Followed closely by JaimeCastaneda COL, UNE-EPM in second and Daniel Oss ITA, of Liquigas Cannondale in third.
Leipheimerretained the Leader Jersey for the third consecutive day.
Viviani kept the Sprint Jersey for the second day in a row.
Van Garderenkept the Best Young Rider’s Jersey for the sixth straight day.
Walter Pedraza Morales COL, UNE-EPM will remain in the King of the Mountain Jersey
The Most Aggressive Jersey went to Schleck.
The final stage takes us into Golden CO and up Lookout Mountain, where the overall King of the Mountain winner will be decided. The riders will start the “Howdy Folks” welcome arch, then head north for one loop out of town, past the start line for a second time, and then up Lookout Mountain at an average of 1,300 ft. elevation gain over 4.8 miles and 6.1 percent grade, this section will provide one last taste of the Rockies altitude. The descent down the winding road of Lookout Mountain, will bring the field back again for a third pass of the start line in Golden before they head toward Denver, where they take six laps of a nearly five-mile circuit along Speer Blvd and the finish in Civic Center Park.
Sunday, August 28 – Golden to Denver (70.9 mi/115.9 km)
Start Time: 10:45 a.m. MT
Estimated Finish Time: 1:30 – 1:45 p.m. MT
Satellite Feed Time: 3:30 – 3:45 p.m. MT