Coloradan takes bike race stage, teammate claims overall lead

Coloradan Tom Danielson won the race to Independence Pass and barely held off pursuers to the finish line in Aspen to win today’s stage of the USA Pro Challenge bicycle competition.

Fellow Coloradan Tejay van Garderen was part of that chase group but lost his overall lead in the week-long Centennial State stage race to American Christian Vande Velde, who was part of the same group. The two are tied in time for the overall race and in points based on their placings in each stage. Vande Velde won the overall lead based on placing 10th in today’s stage to van Garderen’s 12th, even though the two received the same time today for their group finish.

Vande Velde said winning the yellow jersey for overall leader today “was the last thing on my mind.”

“That was just a bonus for the team today,” said Vande Velde, who races with Danielson for the American Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda team.

With the help of teammate and fellow American David Zabriskie, a top time trialer, the team set a punishing mid-race pace that helped position Danielson to race to the top of Independence Pass more than two minutes ahead of all chasers.

“I dreamed about going over Independence Pass first alone, and today for it to come true, that’s something I’ll never forget,” said Danielson, a Boulder resident who previously lived in Durango.

Today’s stage started in Gunnison and climbed Cottonwood and Independence passes, both of which exceed 12,000 feet in elevation. Riders tomorrow return over Independence Pass from Aspen in the opposite direction en route to an uphill finish in Beaver Creek.


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