Carter Jones capitalized on a climber friendly course in the queen stage of the USA Pro Challenge, placing sixth in the summit finish on Monarch Mountain. The result was enough to push Jones into 7th overall on the general classification. The result was promising for his GC hopes, coming one day after a draining and chaotic second stage.
“I felt really good today. It took me a while to ride into it because I didn’t get much time to cool down yesterday – I went straight into the shower fully clothed I was so frozen. Once I warmed up I was able to give it my all.”
After being sheltered by his teammates in the races early goings, Jones struck out with an elite group of eight riders on the first climb of the day, the category one Monarch Pass. The group, which featured Jones and seven World Tour riders, quickly outdistanced the peloton. A tailwind helped the climbing group, which also held GC favorites Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) and Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing), gain a sizable chunk of time. From there, Jones’ group sped back down the mountain and into Salida for two laps before being caught by a chasing group. The new selection reversed course back up to the finish, this time in a head wind.
“It was pretty frustrating because there was a lack of team representation to really make it hard, and there was a headwind that kept things together longer than I would have liked. You saw how things fell apart going up the other way in a tailwind, but the headwind played against me. I just went as hard as I could and hoped to move past some of my competitors on GC, which fortunately happened.”
The now shattered lead group rolled through the line one by one, with Jones clocking in 48 seconds behind new race leader Van Garderen. Performance Director Jonas Carney was impressed with Jones’ toughness after the brutal second stage.
“I was a little bit worried about him after yesterday – he kind of went hypothermic. I saw him after the race curled up in the hallway of our hotel shaking. I was worried it might mess him up, but apparently he recovered just fine. I think he road amazing today. The first climb, that lead group of 8 it was only Garmin, BMC, and Tinkoff, so for him to be there is super impressive. It was a little disappointing that he wasn’t able to do more damage on the final climb due to unfavorable wind conditions, but its a great day for Carter and the team.”
Jones’ teammate Jesse Anthony was impressed with the ride and stayed alert for other opportunities in Colorado.
“We do as much as possible to protect Carter, but we really don’t have a strong pure climbing team here overall, so when the big GC guys hit out on the climbs we all kind of suffer. Carter is one of only a handful of guys in the world who can hold that pace on those kinds of climbs. The rest of us are going to help him as much as possible and stay in the hunt a stage win on a course that suits us a bit better.”