DENVER – Australia’s Rohan Dennis won the USA Pro Challenge on Sunday, finishing in the main pack to take the overall title by 40 seconds over teammate Brent Bookwalter of the United States.
The 25-year-old Dennis, riding for the American-based BMC team, won two stages, finished second in two stages and assumed the race lead he never lost with his stage four win from Aspen to Breckenridge.
Canadian Rob Britton of SmartStop was third overall – 1:31 back – in the seven-day race that began Monday.
“I initially came here to support Brent,” said Dennis, who won the opening time-trial stage of the Tour de France in July in the fastest time in race history. “But I found my legs.”
American John Murphy of UnitedHealthcare won the final stage from Golden to Denver in a pack sprint in 2:20:03.
Kristin Armstrong of the United States, the two-time Olympic time-trial gold medalist who’s in her second comeback, earlier captured the three-stage women’s race in Golden by 29 seconds over compatriot Tayler Wiles of DNA Cycling.
American Coryn Rivera of UnitedHealthcare won the third stage, a one-hour criterium by more than a bike-length.
Five-time Iron Horse Bicycle Classic champion Mara Abbott was third and won the Queen of the Mountain award for the best climber by one point over Abigail Mickey, also a former IHBC champion.
Mickey won the best young rider award, as well.
Dolores’ Lauren Hall finished 10th overall and third in the women’s sprint standings.
She also was second to Rivera in the final stage.
Dennis, whose long season began in January when he won the Tour Down Under stage race in Australia, was also part of his squad’s winning team time trial stage win at the Tour de France.
Dennis was so strong, he went on the attack in the concluding mile of the final stage.
“The plan was to set up Davis (Phinney), but things didn’t work out the way we hoped. But we gave it a crack, and he still got second.”
The 42-year-old Armstrong, who emerged from retirement in April, claimed the opening time trial by 0.12 seconds over teammate Allie Dragoo in Breckenridge. She increased her advantage with a third in the second stage and eased up approaching the finish to place ninth in the final stage.
“If you don’t deal with the nerves, you won’t do it,” said Armstrong of the uncertainty of her second return. “Everyone knows to stay away from Kristin Armstrong for 36 hours before a time trial. I was very nervous. But as far as my training is going, I feel like I am right on track.”
The Durango Herald contributed to this report.