ASPEN, Colo. — George Hincapie has won races in his long career. But the 38-year-old veteran has spent most of his pro career helping other cyclists grasp glory.
Yet in the rainy, hilly and crash-marred second stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Hincapie grabbed one his rare moments in the spotlight, winning the 130.3-mile Gunnison to Aspen road race Wednesday.
While fourth-year pro Tejay Van Garderen of Bozeman, Mont., became the third race leader in three days with a runner-up finish, Hincapie emerged the lead group of sixth and claimed his first win since his the 2009 national pro road race in 5 hours, 26 minutes, 10 seconds.
"No disrespect to Levi, but he sometimes loses his nerve on the descents," said Van Garderen, who last week won a time trial stage of the Tour of Utah and last month completed the Tour de France for the first time. "But it's one of my strengths. Our team is not the strongest on paper, but with a rider in the race lead, riders become very motivated."
Hincapie, 38, who competes for the California-based BMC team and was a key teammate of Cadel Evans, who last month became the first Australian to win the Tour de France.
Evans finished seventh in the stage and is sixth overall, trailing by 51 seconds.
"It has been awhile," said Hincapie, a 15-time Tour de France finisher. "We had four guys at the top of the climb to help Cadel (Evans) come back, so I thought I might as well take a chance. It worked out perfectly."
Hincapie was a teammate of Lance Armstrong during all of his seven Tour de France titles. He was also a teammate of Alberto Contador of Spain, who claimed the first of his three Tour de France titles in 2007.
Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo) of Durango, Colo., who was third in the stage, is third overall, trailing by 22 seconds.
Leipheimer (RadioShack) of Santa Rosa, Calif., finished ninth in the stage and is now fourth overall, trailing by 34 seconds.
Daniele Callegarin of Italy, Canadian Andrew Randell and American Sergio Hernandez (U.S.) were transported to a hospital in Gunnison after being part of an eight-rider crash on a cattle guard as the field approached the first of mountain climb about 40 miles into the stage.
Callegarin, who rides for the American-based Team Type 1 squad, suffered a concussion, two broken hands, severe facial injuries and several other injuries, according to a team spokesperson.
Randell and Hernandez were released, according to the team's physician, who was at the hospital with the riders.
The race continues Thursday with 10-mile uphill stage 3 individual time trial in Vail, Colo.
- Quiznos Leader Jersey – Tejay Van Garderen (USA) of HTC-Highroad
- Nissan King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey – Walter Pedraza Morales (COL) of UNE-EPM
- Smashburger Sprint Jersey – Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Team RadioShack
- Sheets Best Young Rider’s Jersey – Tejay Van Garderen (USA) of HTC-Highroad
- Exergy Most Aggressive Jersey – Andre Steensen (DEN) of Saxo Bank SunGard
Stage 2 Top-3
- First – George Hincapie (USA) of BMC Racing Team
- Second – Tejay Van Garderen (USA) of HTC-Highroad
- Third – Tom Danielson (USA) of Garmin-Cervelo
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