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Aug 23, 2015 – Rohan Dennis of BMC Racing Team showed dominance all week winning two stages of the USA Pro Challenge and proved his destiny of not letting go of the yellow lead jersey, winning the overall USA Pro Challenge in Denver Sunday.
USA Pro Challenge/Meg McMahon
The young 25-year-old Australian won two critical stages in Breckenridge on Thursday and Friday of the past week, distancing himself from teammate Brent Bookwalter of the United States by :40 seconds over the seven-day, 605-mile race throughout Colorado.
“I didn’t know I was the first non-American until two days ago,” said Dennis. “It’s a little bit special to be the first non-American. Hopefully I can come back next year and do it again. I have to take my hat off to the team. They didn’t put any pressure on me. I came here to help Brent, found my legs, and ended up in the yellow jersey. I thank him for quietly supporting me GC wise.”
The seventh and final stage of the race was contested from Golden to downtown Denver. Like four of the previous five years, a sprinter won the stage. John Murphy of UnitedHealthcare won the stage, followed by Phinney of BMC Racing Team less than a bike length later in second and Lucas Haedo of Jamis-Hagens Berman took third.
“I second what Kiel said about our team work. Since Utah we have been a unit,” said John Murphy. “Our guys have been phenomenal between stage win in Utah and working for the green jersey. I’m super happy we were able to lock up the green jersey yesterday and open to door for me today. The guys rode their hearts out for me, and I was happy to be able to deliver.”
BMC Racing won the overall team competition, followed by Jelly Belly and Team Hincapie Racing.
Javier Megias is one of only two riders (Ted King is the other) that has ridden all five USA Pro Challenges.
When asked about what happened to his tooth, the USA Pro Challenge winner said, “I tried to drink the champagne and then it sprayed down my throat . I pulled away and went for another drink. Someone on my team accidently hit it and knocked a filling out that I’ve had for 20 years. It’s a little rough on the tongue but it adds character.”
The riders after a short loop north of Golden took on the 4-mile climb of Lookout Mtn. Another quick pass of Golden and the race zoomed through Wheat Ridge and Lakewood en route to downtown Denver. Four laps of the familiar Denver circuit await and Civic Center Park, City Park, and 17th street gave the hundreds of thousands of fans a thrill of a lifetime.
The overall victory went to Dennis, who finished 40 seconds up on teammate Brent Bookwalter with Rob Britton of Team SmartStop third at 1:31. Dennis also collected the KOM Jersey.
One of the most highly anticipated events on the race calendar, the 2015 USA Pro Challenge tested riders’ strength and endurance over a 605-mile course and many miles above 10,000 feet.
“Every year people ask me if the race is coming back,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of USA Pro Challenge.
“I learned a long time ago, you can’t stop a freight train. I think that’s what’s been created by the state of Colorado and the communities. My job is to stay on board and keep driving.
Final kilometers of Stage 7
Stage 7 Results
First – John Murphy (USA) of UnitedHealthcare
Second – Taylor Phinney (USA) of BMC Racing Team
Third – Lucas Sebastian Haedo (ARG) of Jammis-Hagens Berman
1. Rohan Dennis
2. Brent Bookwalter, :40 second behind
3. Rob Britton, 1 minute, 31 seconds behind
4. Gavin Mannion, 1 minute, 49 seconds behind
5. David Lachlan Morton, 1 minute, 53 seconds behind
Smashburger Leader Jersey goes home for good with Rohan Dennis (AUS) BMC Racing Team and the Lexus Sprint Jersey to Kiel Reijen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Team. The Sierra Nevada King of the Mountains Jersey also goes home with Rohan Dennis (AUS) BMC Racing Team. The Colorado State University Best Young Rider Jersey goes to Geoghegan Hart Tao (GBR) Axeon Cycling Team and FirstBank Most Aggressive Rider Jersey is in the hands of Javier Megias (ESP) of Team Novo Nordisk and Edward Jones Best Colorado Rider Jersey stays with Alexandr Braico (MDA) of Jelly Belly P/B Maxxis.