Rory Sutherland blasts to victory for Team UnitedHealthcare
Australian Rory Sutherland of Team UnitedHealthcare crossed the line at the top of Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder, Colorado first, followed by Italian Fabio Aru of Astana Pro Team and German Jens Voigt of Team RadioShack-Nissan. The seasoned rider took command of the field and left the competition gasping for air as he ascended to the top of Flagstaff winning stage 6 of the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
What has been a constant battle for the overall lead climaxed when Omega Pharma-QuickStep's Levi Leipheimer attacked out of the saddle with less than 3 kilometers to go. Almost instantly Leipheimer had a 10" gap on the select group as he battled his way up Flagstaff mountain knowing he only needed 8" to take over the general classification lead.
Leipheimer crossed the line in 4th, 45" back from Sutherland. But he had more than enough time to take the yellow jersey.
When asked to comment on his stage victory after being celebrated on the podium in Boulder, Sutherland said "Coming into the last climb I went with what I thought was a good idea. I know this climb so well from training, I knew when to attack from the bottom and I was able to pick my way through the ginormous crowd and managed to hold on over the top to bring the victory home for our team. Winning a stage like this in front of my family, my friends, our staff and our sponsors makes all the hard work worthwhile."
"It was obviously a fantastic day especially doing this in Boulder, my adopted home, especially in front of this incredible crowd. Chris Jones and the boys worked their butts off for me all day long. We had a goal and everyone contributed to making it happen. I’m ecstatic, the crowds were amazing - ridiculously amazing - and I am so happy for our team today."
"At about six or seven kilometers to go, the breakaway had something like two minutes and 30 seconds on the bottom of the last climb," new general classification leader Leipheimer commented. "There were a few attacks from Nibali (Team Liquigas-Cannondale) and Joe Dombrowski (Bontrager Livestrong Team) that were really effective and really strong attacks."
"I felt that Tejay (van Garderen) was struggling a little bit. So, at three kilometers to go I attacked and gave everything I had. I suffered a lot, especially with the altitude that has been a factor in this race. But I really tried to push, and I got a little bit of a gap between me, Christian and Tejay by the time I finished."
The 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge ends tomorrow with an individual time trial in Denver. Leipheimer leads the USA Pro Cycling Challenge 9 seconds ahead of Christian Vande Velde (Team Garmin-Sharp) and 21 seconds ahead of Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) going into the final 15.3 kilometer individual time trial.
"I don't have a very big advantage going into the 15 kilometer time trial in Denver," Leipheimer analyzed and continued "But I will put everything into this race to try and keep my yellow jersey, and be the overall winner for the second straight year at the USA Pro Challenge."
With the current standings identical to those of the final results of last year's race, van Garderen said "it's possible" for him to make up time and take back the yellow jersey he wore after winning stage 2 of this year's race, losing it the next day and regaining it for stages 4 and 5. "It's going to take an incredible ride, but I think I can still win this race," he explained.