Stage 3 of Colorado Classic becomes a two-man race with everyone else racing for third

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There wasn’t a whole lot of drama in Saturday’s third stage of the Colorado Classic apart from a severe thunderstorm the

There wasn’t a whole lot of drama in Saturday’s third stage of the Colorado Classic apart from a severe thunderstorm the riders chased out of the foothills west of Golden that could have created havoc if they hadn’t been behind it.

A day after Alex Howes and T.J. Eisenhart staged a thrilling duel in Breckenridge, Romanian Serghei Tvetcov of the Jelly Belly team and Italian Manuel Senni (BMC Racing) took control of the 79-mile stage on the last climb of the day and rode unchallenged for the final 30 miles into downtown Denver. Tvetcov won the day and Senni finished just behind him to take the general classification lead going into Sunday’s final stage.

Senni has a 15-second lead in the overall over Tvetcov. Howes (Cannondale Drapac) is 31 seconds behind and Eisenhart (Holowesko/Citadel) — who had a one-second lead over Howes in the overall after the battle in Breckenridge — is 33 seconds back.

“We knew it was going to be a sleeper of a day, with the (course) profile the way it was, and it’s always the third day that guys get tired,” said Travis McCabe (UnitedHealthCare), who finished third.

The route took riders from downtown Denver through Wheat Ridge and Arvada to Coal Creek Canyon and Colorado 119, then returned via Golden Gate Canyon. Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) made the first real breakaway attempt in the foothills, and at first Tvetcov was reluctant to go with him because his legs didn’t feel great.

“Today the plan was to attack at the first climb, but when Stetina attacked, he did a very strong effort,” Tvetcov said. “I didn’t want to push over the limit. I came back in the group and I saw my legs started to be better. I attack, I jump in the breakaway, but the group catch us. I saw the group was not with so many riders so it would be a great chance to attack.”

Tvetcov made his move and Senni went with him. For the rest of the race they had a lead of a minute or two.

“Victories in cycling are getting so hard,” Tvetcov said. “You can prepare a whole year and crash once and that’s it. I told my (team) directors, ‘I have good form, but I need luck. If I will have luck, it’s going to be some results.’ Finally I had good luck. Perfect scenario for Manuel and me.”

Senni now finds himself in a position to secure the first tour win of his career.

“It’s something special,” said Senni, 25. “Today I had in my DNA, ‘Attack, attack, attack.’ It was a good day. I also found a very strong guy (Tvetcov), he helped me a lot. I’m happy also for him that he gets this victory today.”

Team Cannondale said information on the course was scarce because the weather interfered with communications, and they were under the impression the gap was smaller than it was.

“Yes, it’s a huge disappointment,” Howes said. “I don’t know what else to say. You know when the two guys went, I could have gone, but I decided to stay and keep the team together. A couple guys on Trek were
committed to chasing. A guy on UHC was committed to chasing. Nippo was committed to chasing. It seemed like the right thing to do, not to panic.”

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