Colorado - Tour de France sprint jersey winner Peter Sagan claimed the third stage of the USA Pro Challenge, edging out runner-up Luka Mezgec by a wheel in a dash to the finish Wednesday.
Cannondale's Sagan, of Slovakia, earned his second stage victory in the 170-kilometer (105-mile) ride from Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs, which was topped off with a bunch sprint.
"I am very happy," said Sagan. "Thank you to my teammates. They did very good work."
Mezgec (Argos-Shimano) was second and Canada's Ryan Anderson placed third.
Lachlan Morton (Garmin-Sharp) held onto the overall leader's jersey and will wear it during Thursday's stage four from Steamboat Springs to the winter ski resort of Beaver Creek.
The Australian will have a two-second cushion over Mathias Frank (BMC Racing). Sagan is third overall, at 11 seconds.
Two-time Tour de France stage winner Jens Voigt had the solo lead with just over five kilometers to go before the peloton caught him.
"I attacked because I saw the group falling apart, due to different interests," said Germany's Voigt.
"I was angry, disappointed. I thought it would work out today, and it didn't, and I was a little bit mad with the world in general. Then I heard a crash happened, so it could have been worse."
Voigt managed to avoid a crash with two kilometers to go which took down several competitors, including Mike Friedman (Optum), George Bennett, Kiel Reijnen, Alex Candelario and Jesse Anthony.
Friedman stayed down for a long time but managed to climb back on his bike and finish, his jersey ripped and flapping in the breeze. Reijnen also finished, but had to be taken to hospital for treatment.
Sprint specialist Sagan pounced in the final 200 meters as he charged up the middle for the victory after Belgium's Greg Van Avermaet tried to get the early jump on the pack. Anderson (Optum) decided to try his luck from the outside position while Sagan threaded the needle between them.
Tour de France champion Chris Froome of Britain placed 72nd on Wednesday. He is now 73rd in the overall general classification, 16.08 minutes adrift of Port Macquarie's Morton.
The third USA Pro Challenge continues with the 165-kilometer fourth stage which features 3,545 meters of climbing, including the category one Bachelors Gulch ascent. The course also has a finishing climb from Avon to the ski resort.
Results on Wednesday in the 170-kilometer (105-mile) third stage of
the USA Pro Challenge from Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs:
Peter Sagan (SVK/Cannondale) four hours, four minutes, 18 seconds, 2.
Luka Mezgec (SLO/Argos-Shimano) s.t., 3. Ryan Anderson (CAN/Optum) s.t.,
4. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL/BMC) s.t., 5. Alessandro Bazzana
(ITA/UnitedHealthcare) s.t., 6. Edwin Avila (COL/COL) s.t., 7. Martijn
Verschoor (NED/Novo Nordisk) s.t., 8. Tony Gallopin (FRA/RadioShack)
s.t., 9. Tanner Putt (USA/Bontrager) s.t., 10. Damiano Caruso
72. Chris Froome (GBR/Sky) s.t.
Overall standings after stage 3
Lachlan Morton (AUS/Garmin-Sharp) 11 hours, 35 minutes, 40 seconds, 2.
Mathias Frank (SUI/BMC) at two sec, 3. Peter Sagan (SVK/Cannondale) 11,
4. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) s.t., 5. Lawson Craddock (USA/Bontrager)
18, 6. Tom Danielson (USA/Garmin-Sharp) 29, 7. Darwin Atapuma (COL/COL)
35, 8. Damiano Caruso (ITA/Cannondale) 41, 9. Greg Van Avermaet
(BEL/BMC) s.t., 10. Tony Gallopin (FRA/RadioShack) s.t.
73. Chris Froome (GBR/Sky) 16.08