Sega di Ala, Italy - Chris Butler's solid finish for the Champion System Pro Cycling Team on Friday's Stage 4 of the Giro del Trentino secured him a top 20 finish overall.
"We were all in for Butler today," Champion System General Manager Ed Beamon said. "We were confident he could move up, if we protected him."
Champion System began the final stage of the Giro del Trentino with only three riders. While short on numbers, the trio hit the stage ready to protect Butler's overall standing in the general classification. Butler began the stage in 20th overall, 6:17 behind Maxime Bouet (AG2R-La Mondiale), the race leader after Stage 3.
When a group of 10 riders got clear early in the stage and gained a lead of more than three minutes on the peloton, the Champion System riders remained clustered together in the peloton. Beamon said that the plan was for Chad Beyer and Ryota Nishizono to protect Butler until the final climbs.
"Beyer was awesome in the first half of the race," Butler said. "He kept me out of the wind all the way to the first climb. Ryota took over from there and kept me solid with food and drink and position into the final climb."
The breakaway was caught on the final climb up to Sega di Ala. When a front group emerged of overall contenders, Butler was right there. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team) attacked from this group with six kilometers to go and only Mauro Santambrogio (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) had the legs to follow. Nibali maintained his advantage and soloed to the win, eight seconds ahead of Santambrogio. The time gap was enough for Nibali to take the overall win from Bouet.
Butler finished 15th, 2:58 behind Nibali, enough to move him into 18th overall, 5:28 behind.
"Although I couldn't stay with Nibali's aggression, I stayed within my limit and I'm happy with my ride today," Butler said.
Beamon said the race proved Butler's climbing skills are on par with the strongest climbers in the world.
"This was a great ride for his confidence," Beamon said. "He knows he can stay in it with the best climbers on hard stages like this."