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American Tyler Farrar secured his first win of the season with a strong surge in the final 100 meters to claim the opening stage of the USA Pro Challenge by several bike lengths on Monday.
For 28-year-old Farrar, who last year captured his first Tour de France stage, his triumph in the 125.6 mile road race from Durango to Telluride in 4 hours, 42 minutes, 48 seconds marked his 43rd career pro win.
"I knew today could possibly be a sprint but I really wasn't sure I had the legs to make it, so I'm pretty happy to pull it off," said Farrar, who has lived in Belgium for most of his pro career and rarely competes in the United States.
"Our home as a team is in Colorado, so we take this race really seriously, and to win here is huge. For me personally I have had kind of a disaster of a season so this means a whole lot to me to finally get a win."
Italians Alesssandro Bazzana and Damiano Caruso were second and third, respectively, both several lengths behind Farrar but credited in the same time as the American on the overcast and periodically rainy day.
Defending champion Levi Leipheimer of the United States finished safely and in 19th place in the main field.
The seven-day, 683-mile event resumes Tuesday with the 99.2-mile journey from Montrose to Crested Butte. The undulating stage features three category 3 climbs, including the final two-mile climb to the finish.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)