In the first edition of the Pro Challenge back in 2011, Tejay van Garderen finished third overall behind Levi Leipheimer and Christian Vande Velde. Returning to the race in 2012 van Garderen went one step higher on the podium, finishing in second place, 21 seconds behind Christian Vande Velde. In 2013 he went one better again, winning the race by a convincing margin of 1:30 over Matthias Frank.
The race was effectively won on stage 4 when van Garderen finished second behind Janier Acevedo on the short climb to the finish at Beaver Creek . Van Garderen appeared not to contest the finale, knowing the gap he and Acevedo had opened up on the rest of the field would be enough for him to lead the race overall.
He went into the stage 5 uphill individual time trial 4 seconds ahead of Frank and promptly won the stage ahead of compatriots Andrew Talansky and Tom Danielson. The win made van Garderen’s hold on the race virtually unassailable with just two stages remaining. Indeed the gap of 1:30 between van Garderen and Frank would remain until the end of the stage 7 criterium in Denver.
The win adds to a terrific season for van Garderen who also won the Tour of California, came second at the Tour of San Luis, was third at the Criterium International, fourth at Paris-Nice and seventh in the Tour de Suisse.
While van Garderen was the deserving winner of the race overall, Peter Sagan was equally impressive, winning four stages of the seven-stage race. He won the opening stage into Aspen/Snowmass and wore the leader’s jersey on stage 2. He picked up third place on the mountainous second stage, ahead of the main field, before getting back on the top step the following day.
After the uphill finish on stage 4 and the uphill time trial the next day Sagan finished off the USA Pro Challenge in style, winning the final two stages and taking his season tally to 18 pro wins. His dominance in the fast-finishes saw him take home the points jersey with nearly double the points of his nearest rival, Greg van Avermaet.
Follow the link for the final results in the 2013 USA Pro Challenge.