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Colorado USPCC Stage 5 Podium Predictions

August 27, 2011

UPCC stage 5 profile

Stage 5 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge is an interesting one to call on the morning of the stage. Knowing which team wears the leader’s jersey and how far behind on GC the next few highest placed riders are informs what the teams’ tactics may be. So, this should be easier than the earlier stage predictions, right?  Hmmm…

Here are the elements in play:

  • Christian Vande Velde, now in second place on GC, is eleven seconds behind Levi, the leader. Christian’s teammate Tom Danielson sits in fourth on GC twenty-one seconds back. Tejan Van Garderen owns third place with a seventeen second deficit.
  • After the Vail TT finished, Jonathan Vaughters paced back and forth in front of the Garmin team bus. “If we play it perfectly,” he said, we can win. Levi won’t know who we are behind until the last minute. We have a lot of options to play.”
  • Levi Leipheimer, speaking about stage 5: “I think there is a lot of chance for the other riders and competitors to attack and put us under pressure and I’m not going to assume otherwise.  Tomorrow is a big obstacle on the way to Denver and we just have to take it day by day.”
  • Elia Viviani is a good sprinter on the uphill and Liquigas will work for him. In yesterday’s press conference he said: “Tomorrow is a good stage for us because the last kilometer is in the climb and for me it is good for the last stage.”
  • Just two days remain for the teams that have not won a stage or a jersey to grab one of these prizes. While the Colombians have the mountains jersey, they haven’t won a stage yet. The finish in Denver will be a sprinter’s finish so today is their last chance, as well as the last chance for teams without good sprinters on the flat, for a stage win.
  • From VeloNews.com’s Brian Holcombe: “If he handles the altitude well after a weeklong camp with his team near the stage 6 climb of Lookout Mountain, in Evergreen, Ken Hanson will be a rider to watch in the finishes in Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge and Denver.” Unfortunately, Ken Hanson of Jelly Belly did not start — further evidence of the difficulty of making predictions in advance of the race.
  • Our consistently willing to predict Twitter colleague, @Biff Bruise David Napoli, is counting on a breakaway.

Swan Mountain Rd in Winter (Summit County Voice)

With the climb up Lookout Mountain in the final stage 6 so far from the finish, stage 5 is the last chance for someone to move up on GC. I expect Garmin and HTC to be aggressive on Swan Mountain, and they will have to attack multiple times on the earlier climbs to weaken RadioShack’s support for Levi and isolate Levi on Swan Mountain. This should make this stage very fast. The descent off Swan Mountain is relatively short, with just one or two sharp turns.

Given the limited opportunities remaining for prizes and the stage’s uphill profile with a grade of about 1.5% in the last five miles, I expect a rider from the break-away to win. The grade is relatively shallow but could be a challenge after a really hard pace up Swan Mountain which tops out about eight miles from the finish. The GC men will be charging so hard they are likely to finish not far behind the winner and they will be looking for time bonuses at the finish. Tejay should be near the front as he has shown good sprinting ability. The descent off Swan Mountain probably isn’t a place where he can gain a lot of time.

Guys we might see in the break: Jens Voigt, Chris Jones, Chad Beyer, Daniel Navarro, Sebastian Salas, Ben Jacques-Maynes, Laurens Ten Dam, and a bunch vying for the KOM: Walter Pedraza, Sander Oostlander, Rafael Montiel, Rafael Infantino).

ProVéloPassion’s UPCC stage 5 podium predictions:

Rafael Montiel (GOB), Vuelta a Colombia (Luis Barbosa)

  1. Rafael Montiel (GOB) or Janier Acevedo (GOB)
  2. Chris Jones (UHC)
  3. Tejay Van Garderen (THR)
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