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Hincapie claims stage win, lead in Tour of California

George Hincapie of the Discovery Channel team lit up the Amgen Tour of California stage race on Tuesday with an electrifying sprint win in downtown San Jose. Hincapie’s win came with a 10-second time bonus, which leapfrogged him past race leader Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) and into the golden race leader’s jersey.

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By Kip Mikler, VeloNews editor

Hincapie proves fastest in the finale

Hincapie proves fastest in the finale

Photo: Graham Watson

George Hincapie of the Discovery Channel team lit up the Amgen Tour of California stage race on Tuesday with an electrifying sprint win in downtown San Jose. Hincapie’s win came with a 10-second time bonus, which leapfrogged him past race leader Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) and into the golden race leader’s jersey.

The crux of Tuesday’s stage-2 road race was the steep Sierra Road climb, which came 21 miles before the finish of the 95-mile race from Martinez to San Jose. The Discovery Channel team helped fight off a feisty challenge by Leipheimer on that final climb so that Hincapie could be in position to win the finishing sprint from a group of 22 on Almaden Avenue.

“The team was phenomenal today,” said Hincapie, who was led out by teammate Michael Barry to beat Davitamon-Lotto teammates Chris Horner and Josep Jufre Pou (second and third respectively). “I hadn’t been doing so much top end [training] on the climbs, so I was suffering a bit on that last climb today. But I knew it was a long way from the top of the climb to the finish.”

The win set up a tight battle heading into Wednesday’s critical stage-3 time trial in San Jose. Hincapie now leads Leipheimer by four seconds and CSC’s Bobby Julich by nine seconds.

Tuesday’s stage began in the industrial town of Martinez, east of the San Francisco Bay in the shadows of a Shell Oil refinery. The 95-mile route took riders south through the rolling hills of the East Bay area and featured a series of climbs, including the toughest of the eight-day race, the fearsome Sierra Road climb. Rising 1800 feet in just 3.8 miles for an average pitch of 10 percent — and two steep pitches at 16 percent — Sierra was billed as make-or-break.

One rider who knows Sierra Road well is San Jose local Ben Jacques-Maynes. The Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada was eager to get into an early break, and he did just that when he joined Michael Creed (TIAA-CREF) and Norwegian Mads Kaggestad (Crédit Agricole) on the day’s first King of the Mountain climb at the 14-mile mark.

Those three built a lead of 3:45 over the next 10 miles. Conditions were perfect, with cloudless skies, light winds, and temperatures climbing into the low 60s. Enthusiastic crowds lined the course, thickest at the climbs, and the lead trio continued to build its lead.

Creed leads

Creed leads

Photo: Graham Watson

“We were rolling, and it felt pretty good doing it,” Jacques-Maynes said. “When the gap went up to six minutes we were pretty surprised. At that point we thought, let’s keep this gap rolling. I knew there were big hills to come and a lot more riding to do.”

With Leipheimer’s Gerolsteiner team setting a moderate tempo at the front of the main field, the break reached its maximum lead of 6:10 at the 52-mile mark, with some rolling climbs, and the climactic Sierra Road to come. Once the next 20 miles, however, that lead dwindled as the climb got closer. The lead trio came unglued on the lower flanks of the climb, with Jacques-Maynes and Kaggestad popping first.

“I wish I had a little more on the hill, but it didn’t matter,” said Jacques-Maynes. “I knew we were going to get caught. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to climb with the ProTour riders. I would have had to crest the climb in the lead in order to be with those guys at the finish.”

Once the breakaway riders were disposed of, the fireworks began. A flurry of attacks took place, including one by Discovery Channel rider Tom Danielson. When the dust settled a three-man group had formed at the front: Leipheimer, Floyd Landis (Phonak) and Bernard Kohl (T-Mobile).

Ten seconds behind that lead group was a two-man chase, David Zabriskie (CSC) and Riccardo Ricco (Prodir-Saunier Duval). And right behind those two a group of a dozen more, including the second- and third-place GC riders, Hincapie and Julich, was trying to keep a leash on the leaders. Discovery, Davitamon-Lotto and CSC all looked strong, with multiple riders in the break.

There are worse places to race your bicycle

There are worse places to race your bicycle

Photo: Graham Watson

CSC’s Vande Velde said Discovery was controlling things. “We thought Dave was a little further up than he was, so Discovery was doing all the work to bring it back,” he said. “But then we saw Dave around the corner, so we had to start helping bring back Floyd and Levi and Bernard Kohl. I did a little dig, but Discovery had a lot of guys pulling.”

Zabriskie said he lost some rhythm when he pulled his foot out of his pedal. “Levi knew everybody was getting dropped and he was just gassing it,” Zabriskie said. “It was him and Floyd and [Kohl], and I couldn’t catch them by myself. [Ricco] wasn’t helping much.”

Going over the top of the climb, Zabriskie wasn’t sure what was happening behind him, so he just kept pushing it. “I didn’t know if they were looking at each other, so I figured I better keep going.”

Finally Zabriskie got word of the group behind him, so he waited and joined them in the pursuit. The lead trio gained a bit of time in the descent, and had a 35-second advantage heading into the final 10 miles. With Jason McCartney and Barry pulling him, Hincapie was secure in the chase. “At that point, I didn’t need to work anymore, and those guys just reeled in Floyd and Levi,” Hincapie said.

... and the same trio rolling it toward San Jose

… and the same trio rolling it toward San Jose

Photo: Graham Watson

The leaders were caught about five miles from the finish. From that point on, it was Discovery’s race. “The team kept it together, they kept a high pace for the end,” Hincapie said.

Horner, who finished second in the sprint, gave a quick recap. “Going into the last kilometer, it was Michael Barry on the front,” he said. “Then George was second, Levi third, I was fourth. Hincapie just had a very good sprint there at the finish and I couldn’t come around him. I had to come by Levi first to get up to Hincapie’s wheel and I think that might have cost me an little energy, but I certainly haven’t shown that I have the speed around Hincapie in the past, and I don’t think I could’ve done it today. But I thought I’d give it a go, anyway.”

Heading into Wednesday’s 17-mile time trial, Hincapie said that in his mind Leipheimer is the favorite. And with few opportunities to make up time in the final four stages, tomorrow’s stage will be a major factor in the overall.

What’s up next: The moment of truth
Many are pointing to Wednesday’s 17-mile time trial as the stage most likely to determine the overall classification. The course opens with 10 miles of rolling hills, sometimes steep, followed by a six-mile stretch of flat with a small riser in the final mile. Horner said if he were a betting man, he’d put his money on Leipheimer.

“Levi looks really good,” Horner said. “I know Discovery and CSC both have some strong time-trial riders, but Levi can time trial when he has this kind of form, and I think we all know he’s on good form. Today he didn’t podium, but to do what he did, to be out there as long as he was today, you have to have incredible form. We had easily 10 guys chasing him, and tomorrow there’s only going to be one guy chasing him. I think we’ll see some guys who are specialists giving him a run for the money, but I would bet on Levi.”

Asked if he thought Leipheimer’s efforts to keep the group away at the finish might be his undoing in Wednesday’s time trial, Horner replied that when a rider has good form he can recover quickly from that sort of effort.

“Certainly Levi put out some watts today, but everybody did, because when you are getting dropped you’re hurting just as much as he was [on the flats],” Horner said. “He was probably hurting less, because when you’re at the front of a climb you’re not hurting too much. With his fitness, he should be able to recover overnight.”

The Discovery Channel captain takes the overall lead from Gerolsteiner's Levi Leipheimer

The Discovery Channel captain takes the overall lead from Gerolsteiner’s Levi Leipheimer

Photo: Graham Watson

Asked for his predictions about the pivotal time trial stage, Hincapie pointed to the strength of his Discovery Channel squad.

“I think tomorrow will be a very crucial day,” Hincapie said. “Probably the most crucial of the race. I think Floyd and Levi and Dave [Zabriskie] are probably the favorites. We have some good time trialists on our team. Obviously we want to win the race, and I am going to go as hard as I can tomorrow, and Tom [Danielson] and Jason [McCartney] are going to go good. If we’re close, we’re just going to keep attacking. If we stay close, those guys will be pretty nervous. There’s a lot of racing to go.

“This time trial is tough to predict. It’s the first race of the season for most of us. We’re digging in the red zone, which we haven’t done since September — the San Francisco race is the last time I went this hard. You train hard, but you can never train as hard as you go in a race. I can’t say what kind of time gaps there will be.”

—VeloNews senior writer Neal Rogers contributed to this report.


Click here for results.

Click here to read our live coverage of Stage 2.

Photo Gallery

Results

Stage 2 results

1. George Hincapie (USA), Discovery Channel Pro Cycling

2. Christopher Horner (USA), Davitamon-Lotto

3. Josep Jufre Pou (Sp), Davitamon-Lotto

4. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Gerolsteiner

5. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC

6. Cadel Evans (Aus), Davitamon-Lotto

7. Floyd Landis (USA), Phonak

8. Gilberto Simoni (I), Saunier Duval

9. David Zabriskie (USA), CSC

10. Nicolas Vogondy (F), Credit Agricole

11. Christian Vandevelde (USA), CSC

12. Michael Barry (CAN), Discovery Channel Pro Cycling

13. Phil Zajicek (USA), Navigators Insurance, 0:01

14. Riccardo Ricco (I), Saunier Duval, 0:03

15. Gomez Marchante José Angel (Sp), Saunier Duval, 0:04

16. Pauriol Rémi (F), Credit Agricole

17. Bernhard Kohl (A), T-Mobile

18. Nathan O'Neill (Aus), Health Net Maxxis, 0:05

19. Thomas Danielson (USA), Discovery Channel Pro Cycling

20. Saul Raisin (USA), Credit Agricole, 0:06

21. Jason Mccartney (USA), Discovery Channel Pro Cycling, 0:09

22. Alexandre Moos (Swi), Phonak, 0:14

23. Lucas Euser (USA), TIAA-CREF, 3:18

24. Davide Frattini (I), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 3:19

25. Torsten Hiekmann (G), Gerolsteiner

26. Koldo Gil Perez (Sp), Saunier Duval

27. Martin Elmiger (Swi), Phonak

28. Karsten Kroon (Nl), CSC, 3:20

29. Pieter Mertens (B), Davitamon-Lotto

30. Mads Kaggestad (Nor), Credit Agricole

31. Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA), KodakGallery.com-Sierra Nevada

32. Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus), Discovery Channel Pro Cycling

33. Thomas Peterson (USA), TIAA-CREF

34. Valery Kobzarenko (Ukr), Navigators Insurance

35. Steve Zampieri (Swi), Phonak, 3:21

36. Heath Blackgrove (NZl), Toyota-United

37. Paolo Savoldelli (I), Discovery Channel Pro Cycling

38. Christopher Baldwin (USA), Toyota-United

39. Glen Alan Chadwick (Aus), Navigators Insurance

40. Danny Pate (USA), TIAA-CREF

41. Mc Carty Jonathan Patrick (USA), Phonak

42. Nicolas Jalabert (F), Phonak

43. Hayden Roulston (NZl), Health Net Maxxis, 3:22

44. Michael Creed (USA), TIAA-CREF

45. Scott Moninger (USA), Health Net Maxxis, 3:23

46. Taylor Tolleson (USA), TIAA-CREF, 5:18

47. Craig Lewis (USA), TIAA-CREF

48. Greipel André (G), T-Mobile

49. Michael Jones (USA), Health Net Maxxis, 5:19

50. Brian Jensen (USA), JBC

51. Scott Davis (Aus), T-Mobile

52. Todd Herriot (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

53. Dominique Perras (CAN), KodakGallery.com-Sierra Nevada

54. Marco Pinotti (I), Saunier Duval

55. Janez Brajkovic (SLO), Discovery Channel Pro Cycling, 5:20

56. Arquimides Lam (MEX), MEX

57. Vladimir Gusev (Rus), Discovery Channel Pro Cycling

58. Antonio Cruz (USA), Toyota-United

59. Caleb Manion (Aus), JBC, 5:21

60. Bart Dockx (B), Davitamon-Lotto

61. David O'Loughlin (IRL), Navigators Insurance

62. Robert Hunter (RSA), Phonak, 5:22

63. Kyle Wamsley (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 9:23

64. Kilian Patour (F), Credit Agricole

65. Jens Voigt (G), CSC, 9:24

66. Tyler Wren (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

67. Mark Walters (CAN), Navigators Insurance

68. Fausto Esparza (MEX), MEX

69. Portal Sébastien (F), Credit Agricole

70. Jesus Zarate (MEX), MEX, 9:25

71. Martin Perdiguero Miguel Angel (Sp), Phonak

72. Bastiaan Giling (Nl), T-Mobile

73. Stuart O'Grady (Aus), CSC, 9:26

74. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), CSC

75. Benjamin Brooks (Aus), Navigators Insurance

76. Korff André (G), T-Mobile

77. Scott Zwizanski (USA), KodakGallery.com-Sierra Nevada

78. Haselbacher René (A), Gerolsteiner

79. Andrew Bajadali (USA), JBC, 9:27

80. Sebastian Lang (G), Gerolsteiner

81. Preben Van Hecke (B), Davitamon-Lotto

82. David Kopp (G), Gerolsteiner

83. Jean Marc Marino (F), Credit Agricole, 9:28

84. Sergey Lagutin (UZB), Navigators Insurance

85. Frank Hoj (Dk), Gerolsteiner

86. Mike Sayers (USA), Health Net Maxxis, 14:18

87. Michael Friedman (USA), TIAA-CREF

88. Jackson Stewart (USA), KodakGallery.com-Sierra Nevada

89. Vassili Davidenko (Rus), Navigators Insurance

90. Peter Lopinto (USA), KodakGallery.com-Sierra Nevada, 14:19

91. Fabian Wegmann (G), Gerolsteiner

92. Timothy Johnson (USA), Health Net Maxxis

93. Frantisek Rabon (Cz), T-Mobile

94. Kirk Albers (USA), JBC

95. Michael Dietrich (USA), KodakGallery.com-Sierra Nevada

96. Charles Dionne (CAN), Saunier Duval, 14:20

97. Justin England (USA), Toyota-United

98. Sven Krauss (G), Gerolsteiner

99. Viktor Rapinski (Blr), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

100. Benitez Roman Jose Alberto (Sp), Saunier Duval

101. Fred Rodriguez (USA), Davitamon-Lotto, 14:21

102. Mariano Friedick (USA), Toyota-United

103. Nick Reistad (USA), JBC

104. Michael Rogers (Aus), T-Mobile

105. Charles Bradley Huff (USA), TIAA-CREF

106. Olaf Pollack (G), T-Mobile, 14:22

107. Gordon Fraser (CAN), Health Net Maxxis

108. Brice Jones (USA), JBC

109. Matthew Rice (Aus), JBC, 14:23

110. Gregory Henderson (NZl), Health Net Maxxis

111. Garcia José-Manuel (MEX), Toyota-United

112. Alex Candelario (USA), JBC

113. Aaron Olsen (USA), Saunier Duval

114. Mark Mccormack (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 14:24

115. Zachary Grabowski (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

116. Martin Gilbert (CAN), KodakGallery.com-Sierra Nevada

117. Haedo Juan José (ARG), Toyota-United

118. Lars Ytting Bak (Dk), CSC

119. David Robinson (USA), KodakGallery.com-Sierra Nevada, 18:10

120. Gustavo Artacho (ARG), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 23:14

121. Domingo Gonzalez (MEX), MEX, 24:19

122. Olivier Kaisen (B), Davitamon-Lotto, 30:15

DNF: Antonio Aldape (MEX)

DNF: Manuel Hernandez (MEX),

DNF: Florencio Ramos (MEX)

DNF: Miguel Mesa (MEX)

DNF: Ivan Dominguez (CUB), Toyota-United

Overall

1. George Hincapie (USA), Discovery Channel Pro Cycling

2. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Gerolsteiner, 0:04

3. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC, 0:09

4. Floyd Landis (USA), Phonak, 0:10

5. David Zabriskie (USA), CSC, 0:13

6. Cadel Evans (Aus), Davitamon-Lotto, 0:16

7. Christopher Horner (USA), Davitamon-Lotto, 0:19

8. Thomas Danielson (USA), Discovery Channel Pro Cycling, 0:21

9. Christian Vandevelde (USA), CSC

10. Michael Barry (CAN), Discovery Channel Pro Cycling, 0:22

11. Josep Jufre Pou (Sp), Davitamon-Lotto

12. Jason Mccartney (USA), Discovery Channel Pro Cycling, 0:23

13. Gilberto Simoni (I), Saunier Duval, 0:24

14. Phil Zajicek (USA), Navigators Insurance

15. Riccardo Ricco (I), Saunier Duval

16. Pauriol Rémi (F), Credit Agricole, 0:25

17. Nicolas Vogondy (F), Credit Agricole, 0:26

18. Nathan O'Neill (Aus), Health Net Maxxis

19. Saul Raisin (USA), Credit Agricole, 0:33

20. Gomez Marchante José Angel (Sp), Saunier Duval, 0:35

21. Bernhard Kohl (A), T-Mobile, 0:41

22. Alexandre Moos (Swi), Phonak, 0:43

23. Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA), KodakGallery.com-Sierra Nevada, 3:35

24. Paolo Savoldelli (I), Discovery Channel Pro Cycling, 3:36

25. Hayden Roulston (NZl), Health Net Maxxis, 3:37

26. Heath Blackgrove (NZl), Toyota-United, 3:39

27. Karsten Kroon (Nl), CSC, 3:42

28. Christopher Baldwin (USA), Toyota-United

29. Mads Kaggestad (Nor), Credit Agricole, 3:43

30. Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus), Discovery Channel Pro Cycling, 3:45

31. Danny Pate (USA), TIAA-CREF, 3:47

32. Glen Alan Chadwick (Aus), Navigators Insurance, 3:50

33. Torsten Hiekmann (G), Gerolsteiner

34. Pieter Mertens (B), Davitamon-Lotto

35. Valery Kobzarenko (Ukr), Navigators Insurance, 3:51

36. Nicolas Jalabert (F), Phonak, 3:52

37. Scott Moninger (USA), Health Net Maxxis, 3:54

38. Michael Creed (USA), TIAA-CREF

39. Mc Carty Jonathan Patrick (USA), Phonak, 3:55

40. Martin Elmiger (Swi), Phonak, 3:59

41. Steve Zampieri (Swi), Phonak, 4:00

42. Lucas Euser (USA), TIAA-CREF, 4:04

43. Koldo Gil Perez (Sp), Saunier Duval, 4:05

44. Thomas Peterson (USA), TIAA-CREF, 4:14

45. Vladimir Gusev (Rus), Discovery Channel Pro Cycling, 5:35

46. Robert Hunter (RSA), Phonak, 5:40

47. Janez Brajkovic (SLO), Discovery Channel Pro Cycling, 5:47

48. Marco Pinotti (I), Saunier Duval, 5:48

49. Craig Lewis (USA), TIAA-CREF

50. Greipel André (G), T-Mobile

51. Taylor Tolleson (USA), TIAA-CREF, 5:50

52. Todd Herriot (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 5:51

53. Brian Jensen (USA), JBC

54. Caleb Manion (Aus), JBC, 5:59

55. Antonio Cruz (USA), Toyota-United, 6:00

56. Dominique Perras (CAN), KodakGallery.com-Sierra Nevada, 6:01

57. Bart Dockx (B), Davitamon-Lotto, 6:02

58. David O'Loughlin (IRL), Navigators Insurance, 6:06

59. Scott Davis (Aus), T-Mobile, 6:15

60. Arquimides Lam (MEX), MEX, 6:23

61. Davide Frattini (I), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 6:51

62. Michael Jones (USA), Health Net Maxxis, 7:21

63. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), CSC, 9:40

64. Stuart O'Grady (Aus), CSC, 9:42

65. Martin Perdiguero Miguel Angel (Sp), Phonak, 9:46

66. Haselbacher René (A), Gerolsteiner, 9:47

67. David Kopp (G), Gerolsteiner, 9:51

68. Frank Hoj (Dk), Gerolsteiner, 9:52

69. Mark Walters (CAN), Navigators Insurance

70. Tyler Wren (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

71. Sebastian Lang (G), Gerolsteiner, 9:53

72. Andrew Bajadali (USA), JBC, 10:00

73. Korff André (G), T-Mobile

74. Jens Voigt (G), CSC, 10:01

75. Bastiaan Giling (Nl), T-Mobile

76. Portal Sébastien (F), Credit Agricole

77. Jean Marc Marino (F), Credit Agricole, 10:02

78. Preben Van Hecke (B), Davitamon-Lotto, 10:03

79. Kyle Wamsley (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 10:04

80. Sergey Lagutin (UZB), Navigators Insurance, 10:05

81. Scott Zwizanski (USA), KodakGallery.com-Sierra Nevada, 10:11

82. Kilian Patour (F), Credit Agricole

83. Fausto Esparza (MEX), MEX, 10:13

84. Benjamin Brooks (Aus), Navigators Insurance, 10:15

85. Fred Rodriguez (USA), Davitamon-Lotto, 14:38

86. Gordon Fraser (CAN), Health Net Maxxis, 14:42

87. Michael Rogers (Aus), T-Mobile, 14:46

88. Timothy Johnson (USA), Health Net Maxxis, 14:47

89. Viktor Rapinski (Blr), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 14:51

90. Olaf Pollack (G), T-Mobile

91. Charles Bradley Huff (USA), TIAA-CREF

92. Zachary Grabowski (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

93. Justin England (USA), Toyota-United, 14:52

94. Aaron Olsen (USA), Saunier Duval

95. Mark Mccormack (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 14:53

96. Garcia José-Manuel (MEX), Toyota-United, 14:58

97. Gregory Henderson (NZl), Health Net Maxxis

98. Michael Friedman (USA), TIAA-CREF

99. Haedo Juan José (ARG), Toyota-United

100. Michael Dietrich (USA), KodakGallery.com-Sierra Nevada, 14:59

101. Sven Krauss (G), Gerolsteiner, 15:00

102. Matthew Rice (Aus), JBC, 15:01

103. Lars Ytting Bak (Dk), CSC, 15:06

104. Mike Sayers (USA), Health Net Maxxis, 15:07

105. Nick Reistad (USA), JBC, 15:09

106. Benitez Roman Jose Alberto (Sp), Saunier Duval

107. Alex Candelario (USA), JBC, 15:12

108. Kirk Albers (USA), JBC, 15:14

109. Mariano Friedick (USA), Toyota-United, 15:16

110. Peter Lopinto (USA), KodakGallery.com-Sierra Nevada, 15:17

111. Frantisek Rabon (Cz), T-Mobile

112. Brice Jones (USA), JBC, 15:18

113. Martin Gilbert (CAN), KodakGallery.com-Sierra Nevada, 15:19

114. Charles Dionne (CAN), Saunier Duval, 15:25

115. Vassili Davidenko (Rus), Navigators Insurance, 15:51

116. Jesus Zarate (MEX), MEX, 17:53

117. Jackson Stewart (USA), KodakGallery.com-Sierra Nevada, 17:58

118. Fabian Wegmann (G), Gerolsteiner, 21:59

119. David Robinson (USA), KodakGallery.com-Sierra Nevada, 22:29

120. Gustavo Artacho (ARG), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 23:56

121. Domingo Gonzalez (MEX), 32:08