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May 28, 2017

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Viviani denies Voigt, Van Garderen keeps lead

LOS ANGELES -- Elia Viviani led a stream of sprinters past a tiring Jens Voigt to win the fourth stage of the USA Pro Challenge cycling race Thursday while Tejay Van Garderen kept the overall lead.

German veteran Voigt, who says the seven-stage race in the mountains of Colorado will be his last as a professional, made a gutsy move for the stage win with a solo attack of more than 40 kilometers that nearly gave him a glorious victory.

He established a lead of more than a minute and for a time, with his Trek teammates controlling the field behind him, it seemed he might hold on to win the 113.1-kilometer stage, a hilly circuit race in the environs of Colorado Springs.

But with five kilometers to go, his lead had dwindled to 35 seconds, and with one kilometer remaining he was swallowed up, Cannondale's Viviani surging across the line ahead of BMC rider Martin Kohler and Jelly Belly's Serghei Tvetcov.

"It's difficult to close with Jens," a delighted Viviani said. "He's a strong man. He's a legend man."

Voigt, a master of the breakaway in his prime, reckoned he was "two percent" short of what he needed to hang on.

"You've got to play the cards life is giving you — that's all I had today," said the German, who will turn 43 in September.

"Was sort of like a slow death," he said. "I saw my time was going down ... those long straight lines into the finish — it's not in your favor."

Even so, Voigt said, he went "all-in to try to get the win."

"It's the story of my life," he added, "all-in."

There was no change at the top of the overall standings, with Van Garderen, who finished 21st in the same time as the winner, maintaining his 20-second lead over Poland's Rafal Majka, with Belgian Ben Hermans third, 23 seconds off the lead.

Van Garderen admitted that he was a little sorry Voigt, who finished 67th, 52 seconds behind Viviani, didn't get the stage.

"I was hoping he'd stay out there," Van Garderen said. "But the sprinters' teams, they don't have many chances in this race, so they were pretty keen on getting him back — but I was rooting for him."

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