DENVER — American Tejay van Garderen claimed his second straight USA Pro Challenge with a sixth-place in the concluding sunny and warm Boulder to Denver road race seventh stage Sunday.
With temperatures in high 80s, Alex Howes of the United States claimed his first pro win by two inches in the 78-mile finishing stage of the 525-mile event that began Aug. 18 in Aspen, Colorado, finishing in 2 hours, 45 minutes and 20 seconds.
Van Garderen, 26 was victorious over Tom Danielson by 1 minute and 32 seconds. He led the race for the final five days.
“It might have looked convincing,” said van Garderen. “But there was definitely moments of nervousness and panic out there.”
Van Garderen took the race lead after winning stage 3 to Monarch Mountain, which ended at 10,800 feet, and was the event’s only mountaintop finish.
“At a race like this, at this altitude and with this weather you just have to ride from every sensation you have,” said Van Garderen, who now has 16 wins in his seven-year career.
Van Garderen, who equaled his career-best fifth overall in the Tour de France last month, extended his race lead with his second stage win, a 52-second victory over Danielson in the sixth stage, a 10-mile individual time trial in Vail.
“On this course, I can’t see anyone in the world beating him,” said Danielson, 36, who two weeks ago won the Tour of Utah and also has finished seventh, fourth and third overall in the USA Pro Challenge. “Just looking at his face in the rain, we were just shivering and hypothermic and he (van Garderen) was just having a good time. All I could do was try to do my own race and chip away.”
Serghei Tvetcov of Romania placed third overall, trailing the winner by 1:45.
American Kiel Reijnen was second in stage 7 that finished with four six-mile circuits around downtown Denver. Michael Schar (BMC) of Switzerland was third in final stage in the same time as Howes and Reijnen.
In addition to his two titles, Van Garderen has finished second and third overall in the USA Pro Challenge.
The weeklong race began with 16 teams and 124 cyclists. Reijnen claimed the opening stage and led the race for one day.
Howes, who finished second in the first stage, assumed the race lead for one day after also finishing second in stage 2.
The event also marked the retirement of two cyclists.
Germany’s Jens Voigt, 42, a 14-time Tour de France finisher ended his 17-year with a main pack finish in the final stage. Voigt, who had nearly 100 career wins, including two stages of the Tour de France. He won a stage of the USA Pro Challenge in 2012.
Ben Day of Australia, a former national time trial trialist, also announced his retirement after a 13-year pro career.