Los Angeles (AFP) - Tejay Van Garderen attacked in the final kilometer of the Monarch Mountain summit finish to seize the third stage and overall lead at the USA Pro Challenge cycle race.
The American BMC rider pulled away from the lead group Wednesday, taking Tour de France rival Rafal Majka with him. But the Tinkoff-Saxo rider from Poland couldn't match Van Garderen at the end and finished second to move into second place overall after the third of seven stages.
Romania's Serghei Tvetcov was third, enough to move him into fifth overall.
Wednesday's stage marked the first ever mountain-top finish for the Colorado race, and the course actually took the riders over the summit twice.
About 14 riders remained in the leading group with less than eight kilometers (five miles) remaining.
Garmin Sharp rider Tom Danielson tried to push the pace before American compatriot Matthew Busche (Trek Factory) launched an attack that was reeled in.
With one kilometer left Van Garderen struck.
"I felt pretty well under control today," he said. "The team rode incredibly again today. It was a little bit confusing out there. Garmin had the jersey but didn't want to control the race. They wanted to ride aggressively and keep jumping, so it made for confusing tactics.
"To simplify it, we put our team on the front to neutralize things, and to keep it under control. I'm glad I was able to take the jersey."
Garmin Sharp rider Alex Howes, who wore the yellow jersey into the stage, dropped off on the finishing climb and finished 18th, dropping to 12th overall.
Thursday's stage four is a 119.1 km circuit race in Colorado Springs.