That youth movement will just have to wait. Christian Vandevelde finished second overall in Sunday’s time trial to claim the second USA Pro Challenge, beating young gun Tejay Vangarderen and defending champ Levi Leipheimer.
Even though Vandevelde and Vangarderen had traded the leader’s yellow jersey most of the week, it was Leipheimer who led going into Stage 7 in Denver. But Vandevelde ran a strong second in the stage — Boulder’s Taylor Phinney won the 9.5 mile time trial in a time of 17:25 — to beat Vangarderen by 21 seconds and Leipheimer by 24 seconds.
STAGE 6: Even though the USA Pro Challenge leader’s jersey already had changed hands four times this week, all the talk about the overall lead focused on young Tejay Van Garderen and veteran Christian Vandevelde.
Defending champion Levi Leipheimer? He might have been just 8 seconds back, but as little as people discussed his chances, he seemed 8 minutes back.
No longer. Leipheimer didn’t win Stage 6, that went to Aussie and Boulder resident Rory Sutherland. But his fifth-place finish was strong enough to catapult him into the lead, 9 seconds ahead of Vandevelde and 21 seconds ahead of Vangarderen.
And with only a time trial — a discipline Leipheimer used to take the lead on the way to victory last year — left in Denver on Sunday, suddenly Leipehmer looks like the man to beat.
STAGE 5: Make that two stage wins for Tyler Farrar, who won a sprint in Colorado Springs to claim Stage 5 in the USA Pro Challenge.
While the win allowed Farrar to reclaim the Green Jersey for top sprinter, the yellow jersey remained with Tejay Van Garderen , who still shares the same time with Christian VandeVelde.
STAGE 4: Jens Voigt knew how hard the first three days of the USA Pro Challenge had been. He knew that the favorites might want to keep an eye on each other and take it easy during Stage 4.
So the wily veteran known as the “King of Pain” joined a breakaway to start the day, left them behind to atop Independence Pass, then held on to record a wire-to-wire victory, winning by almost 3 minutes when he reached the finish line in Beaver Creek. (Skiing great Lindsey Vonn presented him with an award.)
Since the 40-year-old Voigt was no threat to the overall lead, standing 11:50 back at the start of the stage, the peleton made little effort to catch him. That didn’t mean the leaders in the peleton — Christian VandeVelde and Tejay Van Garderen — weren’t jockeying for a better position.
Even though the two finished with the same time for the third straight day, Van Garderen took back the yellow jersey on points — just as VandeVelde had taken it from him in Stage 3. Andreas Kloden finished second in the stage, just ahead of Van Garderen.
After the top two, the others in the top 5 still include Ivan Rovny (6 seconds back), followed by defending champ Levi Leipheimer and Ramiro Rincon (both 8 seconds back).
Here’s an Overview of Stage 5, from Breckenridge to Colorado Springs. Find out where you can watch the race live starting at 2 p.m. MDT (pre-race show at 1:30 p.m.) on the NBC Sports Network or follow online here.
Stage 3: Tom Danielson had the ride of his life in Stage 3, joining an early breakaway and staying away from the peleton just long enough to claim a thrilling victory in the USA Pro Challenge.
Danielson was one of the first over Cottonwood Pass and then topped Independence Pass some 1:45 ahead of the peleton, which was impressive enough. But then he withstood the onslaught of the peleton into Aspen, only winning the race by 2 seconds.
The Garmin rider, only 12 seconds back in the Overall Standings at the start of the day, now stands 10 seconds behind race leader Christian VandeVelde, who shares the same time as previous leader Tejay Van Garderen but leads on points.
The top 5, after VandeVelde and Van Garderen, includes Ivan Rovny (6 seconds back), defending champ Levi Leipheimer and Ramiro Rincon (both 8 seconds back), and Danielson is now sixth, 10 seconds back. American Chris Horner is now ninth, 12 seconds back.
Here’s an Overview of Stage 4, from Aspen to Beaver Creek. Find out where you can watch the race live starting at 2 p.m. MDT (pre-race show at 1:30 p.m.) on the NBC Sports Network or follow online here.
STAGE 2: What a comeback! Tejay Van Garderen, seemingly out of contention when the peleton entered Crested Butte, rallied in the final climb to claim Stage 2 of the USA Pro Challenge.
The Boulder-based rider won just ahead of a charging Christian VandeVelde, who also was buried late in the race. Russian rider Ivan Rovny joined the Americans on the podium by finishing third.
Van Garderen now is the overall leader, in a tie with VandeVelde, followed by Rovny (6 seconds back) and defending champ Levi Leipheimer (8 seconds back). Ramiro Rincon stands fifth (also 8 seconds back), while Americans Chris Horner (8th) and Tom Danielson are both just 12 seconds back.
Here’s an Overview of Stage 3, from Gunnison to Aspen. The Queen Stage of this race includes a pair of epic climbs of Cottonwood Pass and then Independence Pass. Find out where you can watch the race live starting at 2 p.m. MDT (pre-race show at 1:30 p.m.) on the NBC Sports Network or follow online here.
STAGE 1: Tyler Farrar is the man to beat after the first stage of the USA Pro Challenge. The American took advantage of a lead-out by Rory Sutherland, whose own sprinter was not in position to challenge, to spring into a lead he never lost and win the 125-mile stage that finished in Telluride.
A large pack of contenders finished with the same time, including efending champion Levi Leipheimer, Fred Rodriguez, Chris Horner, Tejay Van Garderen, Jens Voigt, George Hincapie, Andreas Kloden and Tom Danielson.
The pace was too much for some other elite riders, though. Vincenzo Nibali, third-place finisher at the Tour de France, was in a group that finished 1:46 back. Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso and American Taylor Phinney were much farther back, trailing in 12:45 after the leaders.
Hear what the winners had to say in this Denver Post story.
The USA Pro Challenge continues through Sunday, Aug. 26. Levi Leipheimer is the defending champion in the race, which also includes six of the top 13 finishers from this year’s Tour de France: Vincenzo Nibali (3rd), Tejay Van Garderen (5th), Evans (7th), Janez Brajkovic (9th), Andreas Kloden (11th) and Chris Horner (13). Taylor Phinney, who finished fourth in the road race and time trial at the Olympics, also will compete.
Top teams participating include BMC, Radio Shack, Garmin and Astana. See all the teams on the race’s official website here.