Teaming up, Van Garderen and Acevedo Bust Open the Floodgates in Beaver Creek
In a day that saw the biggest shakeup in the general classification thus far, Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) and Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) stormed away from a select group on the descent down from the Category One Bachelor Gulch KOM, and then proceeded to use the final climb up to Beaver Creek to catapult Acevedo to the stage win and Van Garderen into the leader's jersey.
Holding four seconds over teammate Mathias Frank, Van Garderen heads into the Vail time trial with 30 seconds over Acevedo, who saw himself slotting into third place in the general classification after the dust had settled.
Next-placed Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) sits 40 seconds down after failing to reel in Van Garderen on the climb up to Beaver Creek. His teammate Lachlan Morton also lost time on the day, ceding his yellow jersey to Van Garderen by a minute and 17 seconds.
Rolling out from Steamboat Springs, the race's early miles were characterized by a 10-man break that formed 15 kilometers into the race including KOM leader Matt Cooke (Jamis-Hagens Berman).
Again, as the day's stage backtracked back towards the previous stage's start in Breckenridge, Colorado's stunning summer landscape was again on display for the peloton. Obviously content with taking it all in, the peloton would eventually let the break run out their advantage to 4 minutes and 25 seconds before starting to bring them back.
Helping out the peloton's task, Sky's Konstantin Siutsou attacked the break with 60-kilometers to go to the finish, fracturing it into two groups.
Further crumbling of the two groups saw the peloton close to within two minutes as the break hit the slopes of Bachelor Gulch with just 20 kilometers left to race.
"That thing [Bachelor Gultch] is incredible," said Cooke. "I'm just impressed that anyone can ride up that pretty fast. It was steep and one heck of a course."
As Morton set the pace on the climb, the peloton itself began to crumble, consisting of roughly 25 riders when his teammate Danielson put in a dig, drawing Van Garderen out of the group in response.
A counter-attack by Acevedo had Van Garderen answering yet again, eventually pulling him back, and was soon joined by Danielson with Frank struggling to maintain contact.
Danielson would take the honors over the KOM, but soon began to lose contact with Van Garderen and Acevedo as the Colombian attacked on the switchbacking descent, eventually allowing Frank to reattach himself on to his wheel.
"The biggest challenge was the bottom of Bachelor Gulch. It was an insanely hard tempo," said van Garderen.
With Acevedo and Van Garderen working together after the descent up the final climb to the finish, the duo quickly began putting time into the rest of the field as the skies began to open and lightning began to crack. With under 3 kilometers to the finish Van Garderen was the virtual leader on the road, and would continue to extend his lead, offering thanks to Acevedo after crossing the line just behind him.
Van Garderen’ teammate would cross the line 13 seconds later, followed in by pre-race favorite, Danielson, a further nine seconds in arrears.
“I was beat by a better guy today,” Daneilson admitted. “On to tomorrow’s time trial.”