Aug 19, 2015 – Kiel Reijnen (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling excited fans once again by repeating last year’s win in to Aspen to take Stage 3 at the USA Pro Challenge, Wednesday.
USA Pro Challenge/Meg McMahon
Reijnen was able to survive the final monster 18-mile climb up Independence Pass (elev. 12,095), then outsprint a group of 30-plus riders. The group including Reijnen closed a more than minute gap on Luxembourg’s Laurent Didier of Trek Factory Racing on the descent into Aspen before jumping on the last turn to outsprint Australian Rohan Dennis of BMC Racing.
“Aspen is a special place and it’s awesome to do it again,” said Reijnen. “After the way the team rode for me, it’s always hard to not win. We were definitely happy with the podium today.”
Stage 3 had 120 riders competing most of the day above 10,000 feet from the start in Copper Mountain to over Independence Pass into Aspen. The Independence Pass climb had not been featured this close to the finish since 2012.
Reijnen had won the opening stage of last year’s USA Pro Challenge. After narrowly missing out on the victory in Stage 1 this year, he atoned Wednesday.
Reijnen added, “Taylor and Brent got the better of me the other day, and all is fair in love and war. To repay the guys with a win, is always special. I’m very happy we could do it today. Again the team showed immense faith in me. I’m really glad I could deliver on their behalf.”
Bookwalter holds onto the yellow jersey and in the press conference acknowledged how great it is to be a leader in the US.
“When I’m out training, I don’t think about riding in the wind for guys and lining them up a win for victories,” said Bookwalter. “I’m thinking about wining races myself. It doesn’t happen that often, but now that I’m here I’m really enjoying it. It feels great to be doing it. And it makes it all the more special in my own country. ”
Bookwalter added, “I think this is the first race I’ve lead in my own country and it’s nice when people keep smiling at you.”
The real race began with only three miles to go, when there were more than a dozen attacks and lead changes. Bobridge and Dennis charged. There were then counter attacks from Morton, and then it was his Jelly Belly teammate Gavin Mannion. Reijnen was supported by his UnitedHealthcare Team who took over the front and helped him catch the front group after the descent.
Didier’s breakaway took place up Independence Pass and the fans lined the course to cheer him on. The lead pack splintered off all over the middle slopes of Independence Pass – something expected with the high altitude climb.
For the jerseys, Brent Bookwalter (USA) of BMC Racing Team holds onto the Smashburger Race Leader Jersey. While Kiel Reijnen (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team claims the Lexus Sprint Points Jersey and Will Routley (CAN) of Optum P/B Kelly Benefit Strategies takes home the Sierra Nevada King of the Mountain Jersey. The Colorado State University Best Young Rider Jersey is Hugh Carthy (GBR) of Caja Rural-Seuros RGA. Today’s FirstBank Most Aggressive Rider Jersey was awarded to Laurent Didier (LUX) of Trek Factory Racing and Edward Jones Best Colorado Rider Jersey finds a home with Alexandr Braico (MDA) of Jelly Belly P/B Maxxis
Final kilometers of stage 3
Stage 3 Results & GC Standings
First – Kiel Reijnen (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
Second – Rohan Dennis (AUS) of BMC Racing Team
Third – Ruben Zepuntke (GER) of Team Cannondale-Garmin
1. Brent BOOKWALTER, BMC Racing Team, in 12:13:02
2. Rohan DENNIS, BMC Racing Team, at :06
3. Jonathan CLARKE, Unitedhealthcare Professional Cycling Team, at :10
4. Hugh CARTHY, Caja Rural-Seguros Rga, at :10
5. Robbie SQUIRE, Hincapie Racing Team, at :23
-Smashburger Leader Jersey – Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team
-Lexus Sprint Jersey – Kiel Reijnen (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
-Sierra Nevada King of the Mountains Jersey – Will Routley (CAN) of Optum P/B Kelly Benefit Strategies
-Colorado State University Best Young Rider Jersey – Hugh Carthy (GBR) of Caja Rural-Seuros RGA
-FirstBank Most Aggressive Rider Jersey – Laurent Didier (LUX) of Trek Factory Racing
-Edward Jones Best Colorado Rider Jersey – Alexandr Braico (MDA) of Jelly Belly P/B Maxxis
STAGE 4 TOMORROW:
Thursday, Aug. 20 – Aspen to Breckenridge
Start Time: 10:20 a.m. MT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:42 p.m. MT
Satellite Feed Time: 5 p.m. – 5:15 p.m MT / 7 p.m. – 7:15 p.m. EST
This crowd-pleasing stage from 2013 is back for an encore in 2015 as it connects the Pro Challenge’s two most visited towns; Aspen and Breckenridge for a 126-mile ride.
Starting off with 20 miles of climbing up Independence Pass is a rude wake-up call, but that is just the beginning. The racers still have the climbs of Trout Creek Pass and Hoosier Pass to conquer, while sprints in Buena Vista and Fairplay dot the route to Breckenridge. Riders will have to navigate the 12,000-foot summit again early in Stage 4 on Thursday.
Once in town one final obstacle stands between the riders and victory, the wall up Moonstone road and the drop down Boreas Pass to the finish line where the always loud and excitable crowds of Breckenridge await.