By Eddie Clark
(August 20, 2012) CRESTED BUTTE, Colo.—The second USA Pro Challenge stage race got underway to loud cheers with a couple parade laps in cycling centric Durango, Colo. The first stage of racing would see the 16 team 124 rider field ride 125 miles from Durango to Telluride, and as expected everyone came out swinging.
Numerous sprint points and KOM (King of the Mountain) points were littered across this course, which guaranteed plenty of intense racing. Pro Tour heavy Jens Voigt (Radio-Shack Nissan) was the first to draw blood and make his opponents wince in pain with a hard hitting attack on the third circuit through downtown Durango. Unsurprisingly this drew a big reaction from Boulder, Colo home team Garmin Sharp, who had Tom Danielson, Peter Stetina and Dave Zabriskie represented in a 22 rider break that was shut down by the peloton in short time.
With so much to offer on the stage, numerous teams had racers sprinting at the bonus points and for the KOM points. The Garmin Sharp duo of Tom Danielson and Peter Stetina spent plenty of time off the front to grab KOM points for the climbers jersey, which landed firmly on Danielsons back at the end of the day.
As the closing meters wound down and the peloton sniffed out the finish with a wicked run into Telluride, it was Garmin Sharp's Tyler Farrar who finally took a long over-due stage victory with a classy sprint that bested a field ripe with talent. Second place went to Alessandro Bazzana (Team Type 1 - Sanofi), and third place was taken by Liquigas-Cannondale's Damiano Caruso.
At the awards presentation, Tyler Farrar said, "I really turned myself inside out on the last climb up lizard Head Pass, and I knew if I could just hang on that there was a downhill to recover on. There's not a lot of sprints in this race so I just have to take them when I can get them. This race is huge for us (Garmin Sharp). We're motivated to not just win stages, but we want to win the overall too."