Aspen, CO - Durango’s Tommy Danielson dominated stage 3 of the Pro Cycling Challenge today, reaching the finish line in Aspen 2 seconds ahead of a charging peloton. The race began in Gunnison, and like the previous two stages, a break-away formed early, gapping the peloton by several minutes. Danielson was not part of the original 18 man break-away, but he raced away from the peloton on the dirt roads leading up to Cottonwood Pass to catch the lead group. At the top of Cottonwood Pass, the racers were welcomed by huge crowds, light rain and temperatures in the fifties. By the time the race reached the top of Independence Pass, the skies had cleared, the crowds had grown and Danielson had carved out a commanding two minute lead over the rest of the pack. During the 20 mile descent into Aspen, the peloton slowly pulled Danielson back, led by team BMC and race leader Tejay Van Garderen. With less than a mile to go, the peloton had Danielson in their sites, and it looked like a repeat of stage two, when the break-away was caught in the last 500 yards of the stage. But Danielson had the legs today, and held off the peloton to win his first race since 2009. Danielson also solidified his hold on the King of Mountains jersey.
The leader’s jersey changed hands today. Garmin’s Christian Van De Velde will wear the yellow jersey tomorrow morning when stage 4 gets under way in Aspen, even though he has the exact the same time as Tejay Van Garderen.
They called today’s stage the “Queen Stage,” the most demanding stage in this year’s race, but stage 4 promises to be almost as challenging. The bike racers leave Aspen at 10 am and must immediately re-climb Independence Pass. Stage four covers 97 miles and will end with a mountain top finish at Beaver Creek. KSUT’s race reporter, Elise Thatcher, will have a complete update on stage 3 during Morning Edition tomorrow morning at 7:30. Stay tuned to KSUT for up-to-date race coverage of the Pro Cycling Challenge tomorrow and throughout the week.