Canadian Fast Man Goes Toe-to-Toe With Peter Sagan in Downtown Denver
Ryan Anderson showed off his incredible finishing kick today, finishing second to Cannondale’s Peter Sagan in a nail biting sprint at the USA Pro Challenge’s final stage. Sagan, widely considered the fastest rider in the world, was able to sneak around a surging Anderson over the closing meters in the USA Pro Challenge’s seventh day of racing, an eight lap circuit race in downtown Denver.
Hundreds of thousands of fans lined the course to see Anderson’s second podium of the week, this time moving one step higher on the podium and closer to derailing the seemingly unbeatable Sagan. Anderson knew he had to get a jump on the Cannondale rider around the final turn.
“Today I decided that I wanted to go before Sagan and try to hold him off,” said Anderson, “I executed that plan, and it didn’t quite work, but it was pretty close so I’m happy with the day. Our team has been through a lot this week with the crashes and injuries, so everyone left in the race was extremely motivated for a result today. Everyone worked so hard today to keep me safe and in good position, and all that worked payed off.”
The team suffered greatly during the USA Pro Challenge due to circumstances beyond their control. Top sprinter Ken Hanson withdrew on the second day of racing after a hard crash that forced him into the hospital for stitches in a deep knee cut. Jesse Anthony, Alex Candelario, and Mike Friedman were involved in another crash two days later after a run in with a spectator, hitting the deck with just 2 km. to go in the race. The wreck forced Candelario and Friedman out of the race, all but decimating the team’s sprinting core. On stage six, Tom Zirbel hit the deck, escaping with road rash and scars, making for a total of five Optum p/b KBS riders meeting the pavement in Colorado. It made for a tough and stressful week for the Orange and Black, but the five riders left for stage seven, Marsh Cooper, Tom Soladay, Anthony, Zirbel, and Anderson, were motivated for a result.
“We came here with four sprinters with the goal of winning a stage – I knew we needed our absolute best leadout team if we hoped to beat Sagan,” said Performance Director Jonas Carney. “We lost three out of four of them due to circumstances beyond our control, but that didn’t stop anyone from believing we could get things done, and Anderson proved we have the ability to take on the biggest team’s in the world.”
Anderson, currently second overall on the UCI America Tour standings, has enjoyed an incredible streak of podiums since rejoining Carney’s team in June. Although his physique may not be prototypical for a sprinter, Carney knew the 27-year old held onto a lethal late-race kick.
“Ryan surprises me constantly,” said Carney. “Two months ago when he joined the team, if you asked me if he could have gotten this result on this course, I probably would have said ‘I don’t know’, but his sprint has really come a long way in a very short time. He was second against Elia Viviani in Elk Grove and went toe-to-toe against Sagan twice this week. He is an incredibly scrappy rider and he makes things happen for this team. He obviously has the goods.”
The team will enjoy a short week off before rejoining for Canada’s inaugural Tour of Alberta, where Anderson, Hanson, and the rest of the sprint team with have a chance at more stage wins. They will be joined by teammate Chad Haga, who the aim for a result on the General Classification.