Manuel Senni claimed the first professional win of his career with the overall victory at the inaugural Colorado Classic after crossing the line safely in the bunch on stage 4.
After a commanding performance on stage 3 which saw Senni attack on the final climb and go clear with Sergei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly powered by Maxxis) to finish second on the stage and inherit the race lead, Senni started the final day of racing with a 15-second lead over Tvetcov.
10 laps of a 12km circuit through the heart of Denver wrapped up the four-day race and with a predicted bunch sprint on the cards, BMC Racing Team only needed to control the race to protect Senni’s leader’s jersey.
Four riders escaped early in the stage and with no rider posing a threat to Senni’s lead, BMC Racing Team was happy to let the quartet go clear.
BMC Racing Team assumed control of the race and allowed the breakaway to gain a maximum advantage of two minutes on lap two of ten.
With a bunch sprints up for grabs, the sprinters’ teams were happy to contribute to the chase and with the breakaway well and truly under control, the gap remained around 1’30” lap after lap as the peloton navigated the Denver circuit course.
With two laps to go, the breakaway’s advantage dipped to under one minute for the first time and from there, the gap was quickly reduced as Antonio Molina (Caja Rujal – Seguros RGA) and Ruben Companioni (Holowesko-Citadel Cycling Team) attempted to stay away from the charging bunch.
The catch was made 11km from the finish line and the fast pace prevented any further attacks. BMC Racing Team took control at the front of the bunch and positioned Senni well right until the flamme rouge.
Senni ensured no gaps were formed and engaged in the sprint to cross the line in 10th place and secure the overall victory.
Brent Bookwalter crossed the line in the bunch to maintain seventh place on the General Classification.
The Winner’s Interview with Manuel Senni:
Congratulations, Manuel! How does it feel to win the Colorado Classic?
“It’s an amazing feeling! I’m very happy. The team did an unbelievable job for me. I have to say thank you one thousand times to my teammates.”
How was the last stage for you?
“The team rode for me all day and I was still in the front in the last kilometer to stay out of trouble and take no risk, so I could even do the sprint. I finished tenth, which was enough to keep the jersey. It was perfect.”
How much confidence does this give you for your next races?
“Racing in Utah and Colorado at altitude is really good for the shape and condition and my win today definitely gives me more confidence for the rest of the season. Normally, the plan is to go to Quebec and Montreal next and probably Greg Van Avermaet will be there as the leader, so I will be there to work hard for him. I hope I am still in good form so I can go there and help him even more than I did last year.”
You are the winner of the inaugural Colorado Classic. What did you think of the style of racing?
“I think the smaller teams made it easier to attack. It’s harder for the teams to organise themselves immediately and start the chase. Like yesterday with the climbs, the group was really small so I could attack and the teams behind didn’t have the number of riders to respond. It was a very nice race in general. There are always a lot of people on the road at the American races. I really like to come here to race.”
Steve Bauer, Sports Director:
“It has been a great couple of days here at the Colorado Classic. Today was a text book race for us. Manuel Senni was there and the team was with him all day. We wanted to let a group go that was easy to control and posed no threat to the General Classification which is what happened very quickly in the race. We didn’t really even have to ride at the front other than to stay in position with Senni because the sprinters’ teams were interested in the sprint. We had Tom Bohli up there to keep things smooth and steady, but the guys were up the front the whole day. They really led the race out in the last kilometer to make sure Senni was in a good position coming into the last turns and it was all good. Senni had one front puncture but Joey Rosskopf stopped and changed the wheel and we were right there so it was a smooth day.”
“There’s definitely a place for this style of racing. Shorter stages and shorter races with just four stages and with the smaller teams, it makes for more aggressive racing. I think it was a factor in Senni’s win. After the mountain top yesterday, if there had been eight-rider teams potentially a team could have brought them back with some more horsepower. But, the breakaway was equally strong as the chase so that was an indication that a little change can influence the race dynamic and predictability.”