BMC extended their stranglehold over the USA Pro Challenge by sending Brent Bookwalter up to the line by his lonesome to win the uphill stage to Arapahoe Basin. Bookwalter takes over the race lead from teammate Taylor Phinney, after finishing third in yesterday's sprint finale, and that makes him the story of the race on paper. But it was his teammate Rohan Dennis who might end up with the biggest headlines before it's over.
Dennis got on the front of the reduced peloton as the race made its way past the 5km mark and simply hammered the field up to Cannondale-Garmin's Nate Brown, who launched a perfectly-timed attack on the day's long breakaway as the race passed through Dillon. Brown drew Axeon's Greg Daniel for company, but eventually raced alone inside the final KM in search of a stage win. Dennis's relentless cadence prevented that from happening, and prevented much of anything else from happening as the remains of the peloton clung desperately to his wheel. Ultimately Bookwalter and Dennis jumped away together and Bookwalter finished it off with his strong sprint, while Dennis rolled in just behind. Overnight leader Phinney was several minutes back, as expected.
Bookwalter is a strong all-round rider and decent against the watch, but at this point he has to see his own teammate Dennis as his chief rival, depending on how tomorrow goes. Dennis was recently the world Hour Record holder (pre-Wiggins) and won the opening ITT at the Tour de France. The Australian may not have spent much of his life at altitudes like this, but you wouldn't have known that for a second today. Ultimately, it will be a battle of who can survive the endless air-thinned climbs of this race over the long week, but if the two are both up to the task -- and anyone else from the current leaderboard -- Dennis will be tough to hold back after the Breckenridge ITT.
- BOOKWALTER Brent BMC
- DENNIS Rohan BMC 06"
- CARTHY Hugh CJR 10"
- CLARKE Jonathan UHC 10"
- SQUIRE Robbie HSD 13"
- MORTON Lachlan JBC 25"
- ROSON GARCIA Jaime CJR 27"
- FORMOLO Davide TCG 31"
- ARREDONDO MORENO Julian David TFR 33"
- BERNARD Julien TFR 38"
Jeff Bernard's kid! I feel old. GC standings are identical to the stage results, time gaps and all.
Steamboat Springs - Arapahoe Basin 186 km
Suddenly things turn tougher with a uphill finish. From Keystone to the finish is roughly 8 km at 6%.
Dr Quinn, Medicine woman of the Day: Matthew Busche
Is there anything harder to predict than these medium-hard uphill finishes? Busche at least has a history of being up there on this type of stages.