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After a big fight between BMC and Unitedhealtcare in the final kilometres, Murphy narrowly held off Phinney in the sprint on the final stage of the USA Pro Challenge; Dennis took the overall win













23.08.2015 @ 23:51 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

John Murphy made it a highly successful USA Pro Challenge for the Unitedhealthcare team when he took the second win for the team in the bunch sprint on the final stage. After a big fight with the BMC team, he narrowly held off Taylor Phinney while Rohan Dennis (BMC) rolled safely across the line to take the overall victory.


Going into the USA Pro Challenge, Unitedhealthcare aimed to continue their momentum from the Tour of Utah where Kiel Reijnen had won a stage. Their best chance was to shine in the sprints, with Reijnen going for the harder stages and John Murphy focusing on the pure bunch sprints.


Reijnen made sure that the team achieved its goal on stage 3 while Murphy was nowhere to be seen in the first few stages. He was targeting success on the final two days as they had much flatter finales.


Murphy was left frustrated in yesterday’s stage when a strong escape rode away with the win and meant that his sprint victory was only for a minor place. Today he was finally given the chance to sprint for victory and he paid his teammates back by taking the biggest triumph of his career in the final stage.


As they started the final lap of the 10km finishing circuit, Cannondale-Garmin, Jamis and Unitedhealthcare had brought back all the attackers and it was Ted King (Cannondale), Janez Brajkovic, Jonatahn Clarke (Unitedhealthcare) and a single Jamis rider who traded pulls on the front to prevent any attacks. They proved their strength to easily bring Calvin Watson (Trek) back when the Australian made a move 8km from the finish.


Axeon also contributed to the pace-setting before Brajkovic again took over. That’s when the fight for position really started and it was BMC who hit the front with 6km to go when they lined Damiano Caruso, Michael Schär, Rohan Dennis, Brent Boowalter and Taylor Phinney.


Caruso continued to ride on the front until a Cycling Academy attacked with 5km to go. Caruso swung off and left it to Schär to easily bring the young riders back.


The strong Swiss stayed on the front while the sprint teams were battling for position and Boowalter slotted in behind Phinney. With 2km to go, Dennis moved to the front and got a small advantage that forced Unitedhealthcare on the defensive.


A single rider from the American team did his best but he could see the gap widen as Dennis continued to power along. Marco Canola took over just before the flamme rouge and he managed to bring the race leader back.


Dennis continued to ride on the front before Canola took over with Phinney and Bookwalter on this wheel. The latter created a gap behind the front duo but Murphy was quick to react and managed to rejoin the pair before the final turn.


Phinney passed Canola in the final turn and tried to do a long sprint. It came down to a head-to-head battle between the two sprinters and it was Murphy who narrowly came out on top. Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Jamis) held off Travis McCabe(Smartstop) to take third


Dennis rolled safely across the line to secure the overall victory in a 1-2 for BMC as Bookwalter ended the race in second. Rob Britton (Smartstop) took a breakthrough third place behind the two WorldTour riders.


Kiel Reijnen (Unitedhealthcare won the points jersey while Dennis was also the best climber. Tao Geogeghan Hart (Axeon) was the best young rider while BMC was of course the strongest team.


With the USA Pro Challenge done and dusted, the series of races in North American moves to Canada for the Tour of Alberta which starts next Monday and gives a chance to warm up for the Canadian WorldTour races.


One for the sprinters

After yesterday’s surprise win for the breakaway, the sprinters hoped to get their revenge in the final stage which brought the riders over 109.7km from Folden to Denver. After flat start, the riders would got up the Lookout Mountain which summited after 24kmof racing before they descended to Denver where they ended the race by doing a four laps of a completely flat 10km circuit in the city centre.


All riders who finished yesterday’s stage were present as they rolled out for their neutral rider under a beautiful sunny sky. Right from the start, the attacking started when a Budget Forklifts rider took off and Smartstop, Novo Nordisk and Tinkoff-Saxo were also active in the early aggression.


6 riders get clear

Romain Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) was part of lots of attacks but missed out when his teammate Chris Anker Sørensen, Greg Daniel (Axeon), Alexandr Braico (Jelly Belly), Sam Spokes (Drapac), Joe Schmalz (Hincapie) and Jaime Roson (Caja Rural) escaped. BMC were content with the situation and so the peloton slowed down.


However, the attacking started again at the 16km mark when Robbie Squire (Hincapie), Ruben Zepuntke (Cannondale), Travis McCabe (Smartstop), Janier Acevedo (Cannondale), Laurent Didier (Trek) got clear. They picked up Schmalz who was dropped on the lower slopes of the Lookout Mountain and were 40 seconds behind at the 20km mark.


Acevedo bridges across

Squire attacked out of the chase group and was joined by McCabe and Acevedo. It was the Colombian who made it back before they got to the top where Spokes led Roson, Sørensen, Daniel and Braico over the line in the KOM sprint.


Squire dropped McCabe and was desperately chasing but he didn’t have much of an advantage over the peloton which had caught the rest of the attackers and was led by Kilian Frankiny and Manuel Senni from BMC. Dennis’ team was unwilling to let the dangerous American get any leeway and he was brought back on the descent.


The sprint teams start to chase

That was just enough for BMC who slowed down and allowed the gap to go out to 1.45 when they entered the final 65km. Meanwhile, a big group of riders that had been dropped on the climb, made it back to the main group.


With 60km to go, the sprint teams showed their intentions when Unitedhealthcare and Jamis started to chase hard, with David Williams, Walter Trillini and Clarke being among the early workers. As a consequence, the gap started to come down and was just 1.15 with 50km to go.


Acevedo punctures

Acevedo had bad luck to puncture out of the break with 45km to go when the gap was just 55 seconds and it was down to 45 seconds at the first passage of the line. Meanwhile, Smartstop had now also come to the fore, alongside Brajkovic.


Sørensen and Daniel dropped their companions just after they had crossed the line. They managed to put 10 seconds into their chasers at the end of the first lap where the peloton had reduced their deficit to just 25 seconds.


The break is caught

With Acevedo out of the break, Cannondale-Garmin had now also put King on the front and he was working with Jamis and Unitedhealthcare to reel the break in. They quickly brought the chasers back but as they didn’t want to catch the break too early, they slowed down and allowed the gap to stay around 25 seconds.


This opened the door for the Hincapie pair of Andzs Flaksis and Oscar Clark to attack alongside Daniel Turek (Cycling Academy). The trio managed to get a small advantage but before they started the penultimate lap, they were back.


The peloton was now just 12 seconds behind and with Cannondale-Garmin, Jamis and Unitedhealthcare working hard, it was mission impossible for the front duo. With 13km to go, they finally had to surrender and moments later they started the final lap where the action unfolded.



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