After seven challenging days in the Colorado Rockies Levi Leipheimer USA, Team RadioShack was crowned the first-ever champion of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge yesterday. In the shadows of the Capital Building 250 thousand screaming spectators watched Daniel Oss ITA, Liquigas-Cannondale outsprinted teammate Elia VivianiITA, who proved for the third straight day that the Italians were the sprinters to beat.
“It’s hard to put into words and to describe the emotion and experience that I’ve had this week,” said Leipheimer. “Today has been the biggest crowd that I’ve seen in the U.S. and that is really saying something. This race really raised the bar for American cycling. This victory means so much to me because of the way we raced this week. It took every ounce of energy and motivation we had to pull it off.”
The final stage, Golden-Denver, took riders 73.8 miles up over Lookout Mountain, through Goulden twice, then set cource Denver’s Capital Hill. Under the blazing sun and record tempters at an average pace of 32 mph that gave the field one last taste of Colorado.
Ascending Lookout Mountain, a group of 20 riders pulled off the front, including Leipheimer. At an average 6.1 percent grade 4.8 miles strech elevated competetor up 1,300 ft. The pack charged the climbe at 18 mph, then another call whent out on the raido “The King of the Mountains just went off the back.”
Walter Pedraza Morales COL, UNE-EPM, the reigning KOM had lost contact with the group.
Rafael Infantino COL, UNE-EPM attacked the climb and crossed the line first to claim maxamum points , followed by Rafael Montiel COL, UNE-EPM who took the red KOM Jersey by one point and Christian Vande Velde USA, of Garmin-Cervelo was third over in the clim.
At the State Capital and four laps remaining, Megias jumped off the front of the break but was reeled back in with two laps to go. On final lap of the race, Liquigas-Cannondale, HTC-Highroad and Team RadioShack organized their teams to the front of the peleton in anticipation for the mass sprint finish.
Another small break formed, but was quickly brought back. 100 Meters to go Oss, Tejay Van Garderen USA, HTC-Highroad and Viviani went head to head to head to be out sprinted by Oss for the stage win.
Co-chairman and CEO of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Shawn Hunter announced that there will be a second Pro Challenge in 2012 and it will end in Denver again.
“We’re excited for the state and for the communities we visited and passed through over the last week,” said Hunter. “We will be back and we’ll be even bigger next year.”
The final Standings:
Leipheimerretained theLeader Jersey. Viviani took the Sprint Jersey. Van Garderen kept the Best Young Rider’s Jersey. The King of the Mountain Jersey was awarded to Montiel And Timothy Duggan USA, Liquigas-Cannondale won the Most Aggressive Jersey for his performance at the front of the chase group and his attack into the final lap.
OVERALL GENERAL CLASSIFICATION STAGE 6
Golden to Denver
1. 11 LEIPHEIMER Levi USA 20h00m24s00
2. 36 VANDEVELDE Christian USA 20h00m35s11
3. 41 VAN GARDEREN Tejay USA 20h00m41s17
STAGE CLASSIFICATION 6
Distance: 114,100 km, Leader’s time: 2h27m08s, Average: 46,529 km/h
Golden to Denver
1. 55 OSS Daniel LIQ ITA
2. 58 VIVIANI Elia LIQ ITA
3. 133 RODRIGUEZ Fred XRG USA
For full results, archived footage, GPS data, course information, race play-by-play and more, please visit the official race websitewww.usaprocyclingchallenge.com.