Laurent Didier won stage 5 of this year’s USA Pro Challenge, after barely holding off his rivals during a final uphill surge.
Meanwhile, Tejay van Garderen survived today’s miserable wind, rain and bone-chilling temperatures during the 104 mile stage from Front Range to Summit County, which encompassed crossing the Continental Divide along the 11,539-foot Hoosier Pass.
"It was absolutely miserable, hail and rain, and it was freezing," said Garmin-Sharp rider Ben King, who finished 15 seconds behind Didier. "Everybody was shivering on the bike. People kept dropping back for more and more clothes. I think it was just a war of attrition."
Despite the horrendous conditions, Van Garderen was able to maintain his 20-second advantage over Rafal Majka in the overall standings, while fellow BMC teammate Ben Hermans suffered a worse fate.
Hermans began in third place, 23 seconds behind van Garderen, but now he’s 1:49 back. Van Garderen had been hoping to finish the Pro Challenge going 1-2 in the standings with Hermans, similar to last year when he won and teammate Mathias Frank was second.
"I think he was struggling from the cold," van Garderen said of Hermans. "I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but I was kind of thinking it would be like last year with Mathias and I. Hermans is obviously riding strong, but sometimes if you have a bad day, that can be the end of it."
Tom Danielson was unable to take advantage of Hermans’ off day, remaining in fourth place and falling five seconds further off the lead. Danielson is 39 seconds behind the leader, while Serghei Tvetcov has moved into third place in the overall general classification.
"I was glad I was able to pick up a few more seconds on Danielson,’ van Garderen said, "but Majka’s still pretty close and making me a little bit nervous for the time trial (Saturday)."
Didier is a "domestique" for Trek Factory Racing, whose primary job is to support teammates such as Jens Voigt and Frank Schleck. Today marked the first significant win of his career.
"I don’t have that many possibilities to ride for my own," Didier said. "Last year in almost every stage race I did a break but not many times it went to the finish. It’s really rare to be in the break and the break go to the finish line."
Stage 5 Results LUX 1 DIDIER, Laurent (TREK FACTORY RACING) 3:50:38 COL 2 ACEVEDO COLLE, Janier Alexis (GARMIN SHARP) CAN 3 BRITTON, Rob (TEAM SMARTSTOP) USA 4 KING, Benjamin (GARMIN SHARP) + 14 POR 5 PIMENTA COSTA MENDES, José Joao (NETAPP – ENDURA) + 1:11 USA 6 EATON, Daniel (BISSELL DEVELOPMENT TEAM) + 1:25 MDA 7 TVETCOV, Serghei (JELLY BELLY P/B MAXXIS) + 1:33 GBR 8 HANDLEY, Richard (RAPHA CONDOR JLT) USA 9 VAN GARDEREN, Tejay (BMC RACING) POL 10 MAJKA, Rafal (TINKOFF-SAXO) ITA 11 SALERNO, Cristiano (CANNONDALE) USA 12 DANIELSON, Thomas (GARMIN SHARP) + 1:38 USA 13 BUSCHE, Matthew (TREK FACTORY RACING) USA 14 BUTLER, Chris (HINCAPIE SPORTSWEAR DEVELOPMENT) GER 15 ZEPUNTKE, Ruben (BISSELL DEVELOPMENT TEAM) + 1:52
General Classification after Stage 5 USA 1 VAN GARDEREN, Tejay (BMC RACING) 16:55:56 POL 2 MAJKA, Rafal (TINKOFF-SAXO) + 20 MDA 3 TVETCOV, Serghei (JELLY BELLY P/B MAXXIS) + 37 USA 4 DANIELSON, Thomas (GARMIN SHARP) + 39 USA 5 BUSCHE, Matthew (TREK FACTORY RACING) + 51
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