Optum pro Carter Jones continued his string of World Tour caliber climbing performances in UCI races by racing aggressively and placing 6th in the Stage Three Monarch Mountain top finish and moving into 7th overall. After an impressive 4th place finish in the opening stage, Carter raced well in stage two and made the front group of GC contenders, but in a controversial move, the race officials neutralized the race after the final descent only 7 km from the finish. This allowed the elite group of 10 to grow to a group of more than 30. Worse yet, by standing around for more than 5 minutes in wet, cold conditions, many of the riders, Carter included, became hypothermic. This hurt his finish and moved him down to 12th on GC. On stage three though, he didn't let the disappointment hold him back when he jumped to an elite group of 7 other World Tour riders on the first ascent of Monarch pass. This group included the major GC contenders, Jones (Optum), Ben Hermans and Van Garderen (BMC), Tom Danielson and Acevedo (Garmin-Sharp), Majka, Pawel Poljanski, and Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo). This group was caught by a chase group before the final ascent of Monarch, which was into a headwind. The headwind neutralized attacks to a large extent and allowed BMC to set tempo and control the group for the most part. Despite the stranglehold of BMC, Jones threw in several attacks in an attempt to get clear, but each was eventually pulled back. In the final kick he came in 6th and moved up to 7th on GC. There are still two more decisive stages (Breckenridge and Vail TT) that can affect GC and give Jones an opportunity to move up again.
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Photo Credit: Steephill.tv/Veloimages
PCG Coach: Steve McGregor