The 186 km second stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge saw Brent Bookwalter climb to 11,000 feet to win stage two on the wheel of Tour de France Stage 1 winner Rohan Dennis. In the second stage, riders started off in Steamboat Springs before making the trek up to Arapahoe Basin.

The 31-year-old Bookwalter, who like stage one winner Taylor Phinney, rides for BMC Racing was able to escape from top contenders in the final 500 meters to win the stage by six seconds and take over the Smashburger leader’s jersey from Phinney, who finished stage two in 41st.

This was the biggest victory in Bookwalter’s 10-year professional career. With top-5 finishes this year already at the Tour of Austria and the Tour of Utah, Bookwalter, is in a great position going into the final five stages.

Speaking to, Bookwalter was happy but focused on the long-term goal.

“I didn’t realize I had won the race until someone from my team told me. I was so cross-eyed (from the altitude and effort) that I wasn’t quite sure where I was for awhile. I just powered ahead. We still have five days to go, and a lot of tough kilometers. It’s not time to celebrate. Cannondale-Garmin seems pretty motivated and there are some other individuals to watch… it’s good to keep the jersey in the team.”

Boulder native Phinney had a rough day, finishing in the middle of the pack, but through two stages, he has accumulated the most points to wear the Lexus Sprint Points Jersey.

In the overall standings, Bookwalter leads by six seconds over fellow BMC Racing rider Dennis of Australia with 18 riders within a minute of the leader.

Not all is lost for riders who fell back on Tuesday, stage three on Wednesday from Copper Mountain to Aspen(163 km) features an incredible climb of almost 18 miles over Independence Pass. The pass crests at 12,095, the highest point of this year’s course and one of the highest paved roads in all of North America.

Additionally, most of the day is spent above 10,000 feet and will test even the best riders’ lungs. It will certainly be a battle of attrition to see who comes out on top.

Sammy Mugharbil, a Mile High Sports intern and student at MSU-Denver, contributed to this report