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“So to be honest, I wasn’t planning on riding GC here. It just happens to be that I’ve stepped up a couple of levels over the last couple of years and the altitude doesn’t affect me as much.”

Photo: Sirotti






21.08.2015 @ 08:30 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Rohan Dennis soloed to victory Thursday to deliver the BMC Racing Team its third win in four stages of the USA Pro Challenge while assuming the overall lead from teammate Brent Bookwalter, who finished runner-up.

Dennis zoomed up and over the final climb of the 202.5-kilometer race, past eventual third-place finisher Robbie Squire (Hincapie Racing Team), who had attacked at the bottom. In front of a massive crowd in Breckenridge, Dennis sat up and freewheeled his bike across the line to celebrate his fourth individual win on the season.

"I used Robbie as a bit of a carrot, you could say," Dennis said. "I was playing mind games with myself the whole way up. I was waiting for the one-kilometer-to-go banner to the king of the mountain. Then I saw the 200-meter sign and the crowd was going nuts. I thought I would click into a bigger gear and go. It hurt still, I won't lie. But there was the adrenaline of knowing you are going over the top first and and there was a gap. That gives you a bit of a boost.


“The first day I went on the attack with 40k to go and then 20k. The second day I rode from the bottom to the top of the final climb thinking that people were going to attack and I’d get dropped. Yesterday I rode from 35k to go up Independence Pass and down to the finish with a little help from Mr. [Michael] Schär. Today was just go up the climb as hard as I could.


“So to be honest, I wasn’t planning on riding GC here. It just happens to be that I’ve stepped up a couple of levels over the last couple of years and the altitude doesn’t affect me as much.


“Tomorrow’s time trial was my initial goal, and I hope to take that stage win as well. Then it’s all about just keeping that lead and hopefully we still have second with Brent. Or if I have a really bad one and he smokes me tomorrow, then we’ll swap around again.”

Dennis became the third BMC Racing Team rider to wear the Pearl Izumi yellow leader's jersey. Taylor Phinney won Stage 1 Monday before Bookwalter soloed to win Tuesday ahead of Dennis at the summit of Arapahoe Basin. Wednesday, Bookwalter kept the lead as Dennis finished runner-up.

Dennis also took the lead in the "king of the mountain" classification and the sprints classification while the BMC Racing Team kept its lead in the team standings. Friday's stage is a 13.5-kilometer individual time trial. Dennis leads Bookwalter by 13 seconds while Squire is third at 26 seconds.

Sport Director Jackson Stewart said the BMC Racing Team was under fire early and often in the race that began with an ascent of Independence Pass.

"We did everything we could to support Brent, with Rohan in the background," Stewart said. "We knew if anything happened, we could always play that option of putting Rohan somewhere or trying him for the finish. It was amazing how the guys did everything. The way (Michael) Schär and Phinney brought Rohan and Brent into town was perfect."

Bookwalter said it was big advantage to have teammate Damiano Caruso, a top 10 finisher at this year's Giro d'Italia, riding in the day's breakaway.

"The crosswinds and Cannondale-Garmin's aggressive riding sort of thwarted his hopes, but it was still nice to have him up there," Bookwalter said. "I think it is a testament to the depth of the team and the motivation of the team here to be riding the front of the race every day and then to put a guy in the break to play for the stage win.


“Coming into the race, Rohan was quick to deflect his ambition to ride GC, very adamant about not wanting any pressure. So probably the best thing we could have done was told him to ride on the front every day for someone else. By virtue of that he was still in the race, and now he’s obviously in a great position to win the race.”



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