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American Tejay van Garderen completed his victory in the USA Pro Challenge Cycling race Sunday while Alex Howes won the last stage and German star Jens Voigt ended his career.
Howes edged fellow American Kiel Reijnen by a wheel width at the finish line to claim the seventh stage, a 78-mile (125km) trek from Boulder to Denver, in 2hrs, 45mins 20secs.
BMC rider Van Garderen finished sixth in the stage but won the overall race in 20:05:42 with American Tom Danielson second, 92 seconds back, and Serghei Tvetcov of Romania third, another 13 seconds adrift.
“It was incredible. It felt awesome,” Van Garderen said. “To actually be able to defend the title, I felt a lot of pressure, the boys showed a lot of poise. It feels incredible.”
“I might have made it look like it was convincing but there were some times of panic out there. It was a hard-fought victory.”
Voigt made an early run with the first breakway group but settled for 34th in the stage and 28th overall in his farewell race.
“I try to look at the positive side. No more suffering. No more stress. No more risk of crashing,” Voigt said.
“It was a priority for me today to keep the rubber side down. I wanted one more last ride. I was going to try to be a professional to the last moment on the bike. I wanted to give it one last go. Now I have a long, great vacation ahead of me.”
Voigt said he had no regrets about calling it quits even though he felt he could still race one more year, although not at a level to satisfy himself.
“After 17 years of being one of the boys, it will take a while to change the way I look at things,” Voigt said.
“I had a great farewell tour this year. It was heart-warming and let me know it was a good decision. I could have done one more year but I wouldn’t be as good and as strong as I was this year.”
“I will embrace my future with open arms. Let’s see what the next chapter is.”
Results from Sunday’s seventh and final stage of the USA Pro Challenge cycling race, a 78-mile (125km) trek from Boulder to Denver:
1. Alex Howes (USA/GRS) 2hrs 45mins 20secs, 2. Kiel Reijnen (USA/UHC) same time, 3. Michael Schar (SUI/BMC) s.t., 4. Serghei Tvetcov (ROM/JBC) s.t., 5. Rafal Majka (POL/TCS) s.t., 6. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) s.t., 7. Jesse Anthony (USA/OPM) s.t., 8. Brent Bookwalter (USA/BMC) s.t., 9. Janier Alexis Acevedo Colle (COL/GRS) s.t., 10. Carter Jones (USA/OPM) s.t.
Final overall standings
1. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) 20hr 5min 42sec 2. Tom Danielson (USA/GRS) at 1:32, 3. Serghei Tvetcov (ROM/JBC) 1:45, 4. Rafal Majka (POL/TCS) 1:49, 5. Matthew Busche (USA/TFR) at 3:11, 6. Joseph Rosskopf (USA/HSD) 3:31, 7. Bartosz Huzarski (POL/TNE) 3:35, 8. Carter Jones (USA/OPM) 3:43, 9. Ben Hermans (BEL/BMC) 3:44, 10. Bruno Pires (POR/TCS) 5:35