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2013 USA Pro Challenge in the news: Tejay van Garderen’s date with the Vail time trial

April 4, 2013
Tejay van Garderen completes the 2012 USA Pro Challenge time trial in second place

Tejay van Garderen completes the 2012 USA Pro Challenge time trial in Denver in second place

Vail’s time trial course returns for the 2013 USA Pro Challenge and if Tejay van Garderen wants to leave Denver wearing yellow this time, he’ll need to slay its 16 kilometers and uphill gradient faster than the other GC contenders.

That may well be the biggest challenge BMC Racing Team’s van Garderen will face when the race starts in Aspen this August.

In the first edition of the Colorado race in 2011, Levi Leipheimer, then riding for RadioShack, stole the leader’s prize from van Garderen on what is likely to be a similar if not the same Vail course this year. Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) who won the overall last year and plans to race again this year, finished just half a second behind Leipheimer.

Van Garderen’s 2011 ride landed him 51 seconds behind in sixth place on the stage.

Practice makes perfect?

VeloNews reported that van Garderen hadn’t seen the course in 2011 before racing it; neither had Leipheimer. Vande Velde on the other hand had previously trained on it.

Wildflowers along Vail Pass time trial route

Wildflowers along Vail Pass time trial route

So the jury’s out on whether practice will help van Garderen better his 2011 result on this course of two parts. The first 8.7 kilometer (5.4 mile) section is relatively flat and mostly straight, with an average grade of 1%. The second 7.6 kilometer (4.7 mile) part has an average grade of 3% with some sweeping curves as it rises up Vail Pass parallel to Interstate 70. The average grade over the entire 16 kilometer (10.1 mile) course as ridden in 2011 is an estimated 2%.

The two part nature of the route led to questions about equipment choice. In 2011 Leipheimer and van Garderen chose time trial bikes; Vande Velde selected a road bike with aero bars and logged a faster time on the steeper portion into the finish.

In this year’s March Paris-Nice time trial up the Col d’Eze, van Garderen lost 52 seconds to the stage winner over 9.6 kilometers with an average 4.6% pitch. The BMC rider fared better on the 7 kilometer Criterium International race of truth where he gave up only one second to first place. From the maps the Criterium International course appears to have more corners; it’s also much flatter than either Col d’Eze or Vail Pass.

Last summer a handful of riders congregated in Boulder and trained out of the Skratch Labs storefront with Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing Team) as he prepared specifically for the Olympic time trial on a nearby road circuit designed to emulate the Olympic challenge.

Perhaps this August another BMC kitted rider will join him on a route that simulates the 16 kilometers (10 miles) up Vail Pass and channel emotional memories into motivation.

They might have to drive a bit, but not too far, if they want to practice at Vail’s attitude. Riders will take off from the start house at an elevation of about 2,500 meters (8,203 feet) and finish at 2,939 meters (9,643 feet).

Tejay van Garderen greets people at the 2012 USA Pro Challenge final podium in Denver

Tejay van Garderen greets people at the 2012 USA Pro Challenge final podium in Denver

2011 USA Pro Challenge Vail TT Top Ten

1 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioShack 0:25:47
2 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo
3 Rafael Infantino Abreu (Col) EPM – UNE 0:00:04
4 Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:00:33
5 Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:40
6 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad 0:00:51
7 David Zabriskie (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:00:59
8 Jens Voigt (Ger) Leopard Trek 0:01:01
9 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
10 George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:01:11

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2013 Paris-Nice Col d’Eze TT Top Ten

1 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:19:16
2 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:23
3 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:27
4 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:32
5 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:52
6 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha 0:00:55
7 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:01:00
8 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:01:03
9 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:01:05
10 Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:01:06

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2013 Criterium International TT Top Ten

1 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:09:10
2 Manuele Boaro (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:01
3 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:01
4 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:02
5 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:07
6 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:07
7 Bob Jungels (Lux) RadioShack Leopard 0:00:07
8 Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack Leopard 0:00:09
9 Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:00:11
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 0:00:11
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