Editor's Note: Thanks to our title race coverage sponsor Acura supporting this today's reporting from the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
ASPEN, Colo. — During his 18-year pro career, George Hincapie has fewer than a dozen victories. But no one in cycling is a more valued in the peloton.
Hincapie, 38, has helped three riders — Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans — combined for nine Tour de France victories.
But Wednesday, Hincapie, a 15-time Tour de France finisher powered to his first title in two years when he claimed the mountainous second stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
Riding in a steady rain late in the stage, Hincapie bolted to the front from a lead group of six to claim the event's longest stage in 5 hours, 26 minutes and 10 seconds.
"I feel great [about the win]," said Hincapie (BMC) who last month helped Evans become the first Australian to win the Tour de France. "I thought that I was in pretty good shape coming into this race and yesterday I fully bonked coming into the finish.
Hincapie began his pro career as a sprinter, but during his tenure with Armstrong, the New York native who lives in Greenville, S.C., decided he wanted to have a career as an all-arounder. That mean losing weight so he could further develop skills as a climber. Hincapie lost an estimated 15 pounds and his career forever changed.
Among his career wins, Hincapie has four victories at the Tour de France, three in team time trials, one individually in a two-rider breakaway in 2005. He finished 14th overall in the event, the highest of his career.
Hincapie's stage 2 win was his first since claiming the national pro road title in 2009 and it catapulted him into second place overall in the inaugural event. He trails Van Garderen by 16 seconds.
"I knew that Tejay (Van Garderen) was going to be one of the fastest guys," said Hincapie. "I didn't know the Colombian guys, but they are always a wild card, super-good climbers and some of them can sprint as well.
"I was confident that I could win. Tejay got a gap in some of the corners and I had to sprint around Tom Danielson to catch up to Tejay. But once I caught him I knew that it was over and that I was going to win the stage."
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