Ryan Anderson finished tenth in a bunch sprint in downtown Colorado Springs today after a demanding four-lap circuit centered around Garden of the Gods park, with Elia Viviani (Cannondale) taking the win. The top-ten was earned as a result of hard work by his Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies teammates.
Temperatures in the mid-eighties added extra suffering to the hard circuit. That didn’t stop the race from escalating quickly, with a 12-man breakaway escaped near the start line. Optum p/b KBS was fully committed to a sprint finale with Ryan Anderson included, so the team held back.
“We intentionally missed the breakaway today as we were 100% committed to helping Ryan in a sprint,” said Performance Director Jonas Carney. “Unfortunately, most of the teams with sprinters didn’t want to help the chase initially, and the gap extended to over three minutes. It looked strong enough to make it to the line, so we put our team on the front. It was a great effort by the team. We took the bull by the horns and executed our strategy, even if it didn’t pay off in the end.”
Led by Mike Friedman, Scott Zwizanski, and Bjorn Selander, the Orange & Black led the charge on the first trip through Garden of the Gods and brought the gap back down to a manageable two minutes. The UnitedHealthcare and Garmin-Sharp teams began helping the chase, while Jens Voigt took a signature solo flyer. He quickly gained 45 seconds. Joined by Alex Candelario, Friedman, Zwizanski, and Selander hit the front once again. When the race reached the Garden of the Gods summit for the final time, their matches had been burned. With Anthony saving it for the finale, Tom Zirbel went to the front of the race alone with 10 kilometers to go and turned the screws.
“I was supposed to be left for the last kilometer to help Ryan out, but he’s got to have a chance to win the bike race first, so I just went into time trial mode,” said Zirbel. “I was the best guy to do that from who was left. I finally started getting help from some of the other teams, and I’m happy we were able to catch Jens and give Ryan a chance, even if it didn’t work out.”
With Zirbel fading back, the chase sped to the finish line. Several teams came to the front and closed the final 30 seconds to Jens, denying the 42-year-old one of his final chances at a stage win. Anderson and his final remaining hope for a leadout Jesse Anthony attempted to connect in the chaos of the final 1000 meters, but a result was not in the cards. Carter Jones finished safely inside the bunch to preserve his position on general classification.
“Today I was hoping to follow Viviani in the finish but in the last kilometer I lost him. He and some other fast guys ended up on the other side of the course from me, and I just didn’t have what it took today,” said Anderson. “Today was a hard circuit, and the last couple of days have been pretty hard – I am definitely looking forward to the final stage in Denver because that course suits our team well. I’m going to try and do pretty much nothing these next two days and get a result in Denver.”