Van Garderen takes lead in Pro Challenge |

Van Garderen takes lead in Pro Challenge

MONARCH MOUNTAIN — Defending champion Tejay van Garderen took over the yellow jersey at the USA Pro Challenge on Wednesday with a thrilling win in Stage 3, holding off Rafal Majka at the finish.

Van Garderen, of BMC Racing, finished the 96-mile trek from Gunnison to Monarch Mountain in 3 hours, 50 minutes, 41 seconds. That was just ahead of Majka, who rides for Tinkoff-Saxo.

Stage 3 began in Gunnison late Wednesday morning, and took riders a total of 96 miles over both sides up to elevations of 11,300 feet.

The 26-year-old Van Garderen, who lives in Aspen, leads Majka by 20 seconds heading into today’s Stage 4, which is a 70-mile circuit race that goes around Colorado Springs and features climbs through such tourist attractions as Garden of the Gods.

Alex Howes of Garmin-Sharp was the overall leader entering the day. He finished the stage in 18th and is 1:45 behind van Garderen.

Van Garderen earned enough points in Stage 3 to also earn the King of the Mountain (KOM) jersey as well as Colorado’s Best Rider. His BMC teammate Ben Herman took top points for the KOM atop Monarch Pass eeking out Tom Danielson of team Garmin-Sharp.

Van Garderin finished third in Tuesday’s Stage 2 from Aspen to Crested Butte. Serghei Tvetcov of Romania, racing with team Jelly Belly, finished third in the stage.

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