Events

Leipheimer wins U.S. pro road crown

Discovery Channel went one-two on Sunday at the Greenville Hospital System USA Cycling Professional Road Race Championships in Greenville, South Carolina, with Levi Leipheimer soloing to victory by more than a minute over defending champion George Hincapie with Neil Shirley (Jittery Joe’s) third.

By JoE Silva, VeloNews.com

Leipheimer caps his season with a stars-and-stripes jersey

Leipheimer caps his season with a stars-and-stripes jersey

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Discovery Channel went one-two on Sunday at the Greenville Hospital System USA Cycling Professional Road Race Championships in Greenville, South Carolina, with Levi Leipheimer soloing to victory by more than a minute over defending champion George Hincapie with Neil Shirley (Jittery Joe’s) third.

After 30 minutes of racing, seven men — Jackson Stewart (BMC), Tyler Wren (Colavita-Sutter Home), Doug Ollerenshaw (Health Net-Maxxis), Jonny Sundt (Kelly Benefits-Medifast), Josh Thornton (Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada) and Slipstream-Chipotle teammates Michael Friedman and Pat McCarty — gained a 45-second advantage over the field.

With speeds hovering near 30 mph the break had three minutes on the peloton at the base of Paris Mountain. Stewart, Ollerenshaw, and McCarty left their companions behind and began an extended effort that would see them off the front until the race was nearly 70 miles gone.

That’s when Leipheimer bridged up with Toyota-United’s Chris Baldwin.

He hit the afterburners on Paris Mountain and that was all she wrote

He hit the afterburners on Paris Mountain and that was all she wrote

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Leipheimer took control of the race from that point forward, leading a five-man front group. Stewart dropped back, and while Frank Pipp (Health Net) and Andrew Bajadali Jelly Belly) were able to bridge up, Leipheimer’s relentless pace put the competition into the hurt locker.

On the last climb up Paris Mountain, only Bajadali could stay on Levi’s wheel — and only for a short time at that.

“I honestly thought that we were going to go over the top together,” said Leipheimer. “I thought he was being conservative, and then he got dropped. At that moment, I thought, ‘Oh, this is a long way to go.’”

Twenty-three miles, to be exact. But Leipheimer put his head down and drove on. Behind him, just 29 riders remained, and the few with any gas in their tanks could not muster the organization necessary to bring him back, though Bobby Julich (Team CSC) made a last-ditch attempt with 13 miles to go.

With Leipheimer all but assured of victory, more than a minute up the road, hometown hero Hincapie covered any remaining moves coming out of the field. Hincapie would eventually go away with Fred Rodriguez (Predictor-Lotto) and Shirley in tow, but Rodriguez conceded his spot on the podium during the final few hundred meters to the super-enthusiastic Shirley.

For Leipheimer, donning the stars and stripes capped a great year of racing.

“2007 has been a dream come true for me,” he said. “The Tour of California … I dreamed about that all winter and trained harder than I ever have before. Then to go to Europe – stand on the podium in Paris and win a stage of the Tour de France, and then to come here to Greenville and be the U.S. champion, it was much more than I ever dreamed of.”

Greenville Hospital System USA Cycling Pro Road Race Championships
Greenville, SC
Road race

1. Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, 177km in 4:22:19
2. George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, at 1:11
3. Neil Shirley, Jittery Joe’s, at 1:14
4. Freddie Rodriguez, Predictor-Lotto, at 1:18
5. Danny Pate, Slipstream-Chipotle, at 1:29
6. Shawn Milne, Health Net-Maxxis, at 1:56
7. Kirk O’Bee, Health Net-Maxxis, at 2:00
8. Bobby Julich, CSC, same time
9. Christopher Jones, Nerac, s.t.
10. Burke Swindlehurst, Toyota United, at 2:04

Complete results

Photo Gallery

Results

Greenville Hospital System USA Cycling Pro Road Race Championships
Greenville, SC
Road race

1. Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, 177km in 4:22:19
2. George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, at 1:11
3. Neil Shirley, Jittery Joe’s, at 1:14
4. Freddie Rodriguez, Predictor-Lotto, at 1:18
5. Danny Pate, Slipstream-Chipotle, at 1:29
6. Shawn Milne, Health Net-Maxxis, at 1:56
7. Kirk O’Bee, Health Net-Maxxis, at 2:00
8. Bobby Julich, CSC, same time
9. Christopher Jones, Nerac, s.t.
10. Burke Swindlehurst, Toyota United, at 2:04

Complete results