Guillaume Boivin earned the orange Most Aggressive Rider jersey in stage one of the USA Pro Challenge thanks to a near race-winning effort launched from the day’s breakaway. BMC Racing’s Rohan Dennis made a successful bridge from the remnants of the peloton on the final climb to the seven rider move containing Boivin, which escaped just 15 km into the 154 km stage on the winding roads outside Steamboat Spring. Dennis, the one-time hour record holder, attacked the group with Boivin latching on. The duo locked into a furious pace, holding their gap until just 1 km to go, where they were swept up by a chase led by stage winner Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing). Boivin’s countryman Ryan Anderson finished fourth in the charge to the line behind Phinney from the highly select chase group. See a photo gallery from stage one.
Boivin thought a lack of cooperation with Dennis cost him a chance at a win in the Canadian road race championship colors he earned earlier this year.
“I was really hoping we would make it to the line, but with about 4 km to go, Dennis seemed like he didn’t want to pull anymore, probably because he knew I had a good shot at beating him in the sprint,” said Boivin. “We hesitated too much and the group came back inside 1km to go. Orange is not the color we were looking for today, so we are a little disappointed. It was great having Anderson there to contest the sprint after we got caught, and there should be more opportunity for us this week. We will keep chasing the W.”
Two categorized climbs on the course’s 77 km loop were enough to dislodge nearly all of the race’s pure sprinters and a good percentage of everyone else – just 43 of the race’s 123 riders made it to the finish in the lead group.
With Dennis and Boivin flying to the line and a chance at a stage win looking likely with 1 km remaining, the end result was not ideal for the team, but Dennis’ decision to abandon the attack ultimately paid off for BMC Racing. Performance Director Jonas Carney saw the result as promising after a difficult opener in Colorado.
“The strategy today was to race for a sprint and see who we had left after the climbs,” said Carney. “We expected the hills to be very challenging and a big shock to a lot of riders. We didn’t expect the pace to be so high – the GC contenders separated themselves today, and that changes the course of the entire race. We put Guillaume in the break to cover ourselves in case it was a real climbers selection in the end, and Ryan fought really hard to make it over in the front group. Those two gave us excellent options for the stage. We thought Rohan (Dennis) would want to gain time on the other GC contenders, but that wasn’t the case and they didn’t give it the effort necessary to stay away. Still a very respectable result for Ryan, especially after the climbing we saw today.”
Boivin will wear the orange jersey in in the 186 km second stage from Steamboat Springs to Arapahoe Basin. The Pro Challenge wastes no time sorting out who will contest the yellow jersey this year – stage two features two massive climbs. A 9,570’ summit on Ute Pass followed directly by a 35 km uphill stretch peaking at 10,789’ across the finish line in Arapahoe Basin.