With work from the team to set up the chance for a breakaway in the closing ten kilometers, Bennett was part of a seven-man group that went off the front just as the remains of the daylong break were being reabsorbed into the peloton.
George Bennett: “I felt really good today. Near the end it was hard and I saw a bit of cat and mouse starting and some dangerous groups starting to form up, namely Sagan. I went across to it and we started working together but no one would roll through so I attacked them. I went with Carter Jones. We were teammates on Livestrong and we worked well together. We were really going fast, as fast as I could go.”
The duo established a gap of 20-seconds, forcing BMC to put men on the front to mount a furious chase. The move was shut down near the 1km to go banner, with a mass sprint following. Charging up the middle of the course to earn the win and first leader’s jersey was Slovakian Peter Sagan of Cannondale. It was the 15th win of the season for the 23-year old rider who seems to enjoy cycling success on American soil. Second and third places went to BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet and Kiel Riejnen of United HealthCare. Fourth in the sprint was RADIOSHACK LEOPARD TREK’s Tony Gallopin.
Bennett: “It was one of those things that could have gone either way so in hindsight maybe it wasn’t the best move to try, but if I had won, it would have been brilliant! I feel good that I tried and knowing that there was nothing more I could have done. I feel good after racing in Utah, so I’ve been at altitude and am acclimated. I was pushing some big numbers. I’m optimistic that everything is going to go well here this week. Today’s effort was a good sign for things to come.”
The opening stage was 97.6km/60.6mi circuit in-and-around Aspen. Stage 2 on Tuesday is a far different beast than today’s warm-up. The stage begins in Aspen and ends in Breckenridge after 202.9km/126mi and includes a trip over Independence Pass at 3658m/12000ft, and then Hoosier Pass. But there is a little 15% Moonstone Road to deal with, too, just before descending the Boreas Pass into Breckenridge.