Hincapie Wins Stage, Van Garderen Takes Lead

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) – American veteran George Hincapie emerged from a six-rider group Wednesday to win the crash-marred second stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, while young compatriot Tejay Van Garderen became the third race leader in three days.

The 38-year-old Hincapie, a 15-time Tour de France finisher from Greenville, S.C., completed the rainy 130.3-mile leg from Gunnison to Aspen in 5 hours, 26 minutes, 10 seconds.

Van Garderen, the 23-year-old rider from Bozeman, Mont., finished second in the stage that concluded in steady rain. He began the day in sixth position, seven seconds behind Levi Leipheimer. Van Garderen, the team leader of the American HTC-Highroad squad, leads Hincapie by 16 seconds with four stages left in the inaugural race.

Garmin-Cervelo’s Tom Danielson, from Colorado, was third in the stage to move into third overall, 22 seconds back.

“No disrespect to Levi, but he’s not the strongest on the descents,” said Van Garderen, the Tour de France rider who won a time trial stage in the Tour of Utah last week. “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 competes for the California-based BMC team and was a key teammate of Cadel Evans last month in the Australian’s Tour de France victory. Hincapie hadn’t won a race since claiming the national road title in 2009.

“It has been awhile,” Hincapie said. “We had four guys at the top of the climb to help Cadel come back, so I thought I might as well take a chance. It worked out perfectly.”

Leipheimer, from Butte, Mont., and now based in Santa Rosa, Calif., finished ninth in the stage and to drop to fourth overall, 34 seconds back. He won the Tour of Utah.

Evans finished seventh in the stage, 45 seconds behind Hincapie, and is sixth overall — 51 seconds back.

Italy’s Daniele Callegarin, Canadian Andrew Randell and American Sergio Hernandez were transported to a hospital in Gunnison after an eight-rider crash on a cattle guard as the field approached the first of two ascents over 12,000 feet in the stage.

Callegarin, who rides for the American-based Team Type 1 squad, sustained 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 individual time trial in Vail.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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