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Viviani Goes Back-To-Back, Leipheimer Keeps Slim Lead

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2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge - Stage Five
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BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (AP) — Elia Viviani of Italy claimed his second straight sprint stage while American Levi Leipheimer retained his overall lead Saturday after the fifth stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

Viviani, 22, a second-year pro who rides for the Italian Liquigas team, bolted ahead of Italian teammate Daniel Oss and won the 105.8-mile road race from Steamboat Springs to Breckenridge in 4 hours, 4 minutes and 31 seconds.

Jaime Castaneda (EPM-UNE) of Colombia was second, with Oss third, both in the same time as the winner.

“The final situation was perfect for us,” said Viviani, the former track cyclist who again used an ideal final draft from Oss to ride to victory. “It was a good attack and I went at the best moment.”

Leipheimer (RadioShack), the Montana native who lives in Santa Rosa, Calif., retained an 11-second margin over Christian Vande Velde (HTC-Highroad) of Lemont, Ill.

“You can’t win a bike race without a team and the RadioShack team rode smart and strong,” said Leipheimer, who took his first race lead winning stage 1 and regained it with his narrow individual time trial win in stage 3 over Vande Velde. “We were smart and calm and we were able to keep it together and let the break go.”

Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervelo) finished 10th in the stage also among the large main field the finished together. Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) of Bozeman, Mont., also finished in the main field and is third overall, trailing by 17 seconds.

Leipheimer, 37, who last week won the Tour of Utah and in June claimed the Tour of Switzerland, the biggest title is his 15th season, will now only need to ride in the protection of his teammates in Sunday’s finale, the 70.9-mile Golden to Denver road race.

“I don’t want to think about that now,” said Leipheimer, a four-time top-10 overall Tour de France finisher. “I want to stay positive and keep doing what we are doing. We’ve done a great job so far, and we have to keep that momentum one more day.”

Cadel Evans (BMC) of Australia, the reigning Tour de France titlist, finished 31st in the stage and remained seventh overall, trailing by 1:18.

Former two-time Tour of Italy winner Ivan Basso (Liquigas) of Italy, three-time Tour de France runner-up Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, Dutch riders Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank) and American Tom Peterson assumed lead group early in the stage and built nearly a 5-minute advantage.

But Basso was the highest-place rider in the overall standings in the foursome beginning day, trailing by nearly 5 1/2 minutes.

The main field was content let the leaders remain at the front until steadily absorbing the quartet and finally entering the final last half-mile of the race as one group.

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

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