USA Pro Challenge lead remains unchanged

Jones Raia
The Associated Press

FORT COLLINS — Slovakia’s Peter Sagan recovered from intestinal problems to race to his third stage victory in the USA Pro Challenge, and American Tejay van Garderen kept the overall lead Saturday with one day left in the seven-stage event.

The 23-year-old Sagan, riding for Cannondale, completed the 115.2-mile leg from Loveland to Fort Collins in 4 hours, 1 minute, 33 seconds. He won the first and third stages, then had intestinal problems in the fourth stage.

Van Garderen, the 25-year-old BMC rider from Bozeman, Mont., maintained his 1:30 advantage over teammate Mathias Frank of Switzerland with his 18th-place finish in the main field in the same time as Sagan.

“It was hard and fast from the start,” said van Garderen, who took the race lead with a runner-up finish in the fourth stage and extended it in the fifth stage with his individual time trial win. “We did 180 kilometers (112 miles mph) in 4 hours. It was impressive.”

The race will end Sunday with the eight-lap 72.4-mile Denver Circuit Race.

American Tom Danielson of Garmin-Sharp remained third overall, 1:42 back.

Slovakia’s Luka Mezgec of Argos-Shimano finished second in the stage, a bike-length behind. Belgium’s Greg Van Avermaet, riding for BMC of Belgium was third.

Van Garderen, who attended high school in Fort Collins, rode surrounded by teammates for much of the high-paced stage.

Van Garderen, the Tour of California winner in May, finished third in the inaugural USA Pro Challenge two years ago and was second overall in 2012.

“I never felt my (leader’s) jersey was in jeopardy,” van Garderen said. “But the attacks were going non-stop.”

Rory Sutherland of Saxo-Bank jumped to the front with about 500 yards left in the stage and broke clear of the main field. But Sagan passed the Australian within the final 100 yards.

“He (Sutherland) attacked too soon,” said Sagan, the four-time Tour de France stage winner who tallied his 18th season win and 58th career title. “I didn’t feel well in fourth stage, but I recovered in the time trial (stage) and today I did pretty good, I think.”

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