Carpenter Wins Stage 2 of USA Pro Challenge; Howes Takes Overall Lead
Stage 2 of USA Pro Challenge 2014 brought the riders several challenges including high-altitude climbs, dirt roads and stormy weather, but nothing could stop Hincapie Sportswear Development's Robin Carpenter who battled his way to a remarkable stage win in Mt. Crested Butte.
Despite gloomy race conditions, Alex Howes (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp-POC finished the stage in second place, putting him at the top of the general classification rankings. “This is my home race, so it’s not hard to be motivated for it,” Howes explained while proudly wearing the yellow race leader jersey after being celebrated on the podium.
BMC Racing Team's Ben Hermans moved into second overall and teammate and defending USA Pro Challenge Champion Tejay van Garderen stands third following the rain-soaked, uphill finish that was preceded by a brief stoppage of the stage.
Today's stage 2 of the 2014 USA Pro Cycling Challenge opened fast by ripping down the Aspen Valley through the sprint cities of Basalt and Carbondale before tackling the 8,700 ft. McClure Pass. A short descent brought the race to Gunnison County Road 12, which is a 20-mile rollercoaster that constantly changes from pavement to dirt and back again, while topping out at 9,900 ft. over Kebler Pass. The race then came to an end with a sprint through downtown Crested Butte and the steep finish climb up to Mt. Crested Butte.
As the riders set off on a three-mile neutral section out of Aspen, they knew what was lying ahead – a long challenging stage with three sprint and KOM competitions. As the riders left Aspen and descended into the town of Basalt traveling at speeds of 45 mph, Matej Mohoric (CAN) of Cannondale Pro Cycling broke away from the group, but was reeled back in just before the sprint. Seventeen miles into the stage they hit the first Lexus Sprint Line where Tyler Magner (USA) of Hincapie Sportswear Development Team took max points, followed by the man in the yellow jersey Kiel Reijnen (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team and Mohoric.
With the next sprint not far down the road in Carbondale, the pace stayed high and Magner crossed the line first, followed by Reijnen and Jure Kocjan (SLO) of Team SmartStop. Next, the riders would cross into the feed zone to prepare for the Sierra Nevada KOMs of the day. Leading into the first KOM competition at McClure Summit, a Cat. 1, 3.5-mile climb with an average grade of seven percent, things started to heat up with attacks coming off the front. Eventually a group of 10 would get away for good that included Michael Torckler (NZL) of Team SmartStop; Ryan Anderson (CAN) and Jesse Anthony (USA) of Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies; Jai Crawford (AUS) of Drapac Pro Cycling; Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) of Jamis-Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home; Chris Jones (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team; Luis Davila (MEX) and Kirk Carlsen (USA) of Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis; and Joe Lewis (AUS) and Dion Smith (NZL) of Hincapie Sportswear Development Team. Soon after, they were joined by David de la Cruz Melgarejo (ESP) of Team NetApp-Endura and Mohoric.
With the summit of McClure Pass in his sights de la Cruz attacked and hit the top first, followed closely by Jacques-Maynes and Torckler. The next challenge facing the riders would be a 20-mile dirt road section,