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By Andrew Hood
George Hincapie narrowly missed another big victory by the smallest of margins in Wednesday’s opening prologue to kick start the ENECO Benelux tour.
Hincapie – who lost the Tour de France opening prologue by less than one second to Thor Hushovd – was once again on the wrong end of the bargain in the 6.1km prologue course Wednesday, finishing one second behind winner Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner).
Schumacher, 25, covered the distance in seven minutes to achieved his fifth win of the year and 14th of his career.
“It’s great to come in ahead of several time trial specialists, but I’m not really surprised,” said Schumacher, winner of two stages of the Tour of Italy this year. “I’m in good form. I’ll do my best to win this race, it suits me perfectly.”
World champion Tom Boonen (Quick Step) was fifth, four seconds behind the German, with defending champion Bobby Julich of the United States finishing 15th at 12 seconds off the pace.
Thursday’s first stage is over 176km between Wieringerwerf and Hoogeveen.
DEN HELDER, Netherlands, Aug 16, 2006 (AFP)
6.1km prologue1. Stefan Schumacher (GER) Gerlosteiner 7 minutes
2. George Hincapie (USA) at 1sec
3. Joost Posthuma (NED) 1
4. Jose Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (ESP) 2
5. Tom Boonen (BEL) 4
6. Manuel Quinziato (ITA) 5
7. Alexei Markov (RUS) 5
8. Nick Nuyens (BEL) 5
9. Vicenzo Nibali (ITA) 8
10. Thomas Dekker (NED) 8 Selected:
13. Philippe Gilbert (BEL) at 10sec
14. Leif Hoste (BEL) 11
15. Bobby Julich (USA) 12
20. Juan Antonio Flecha (ESP) 13
22. Stefen Weseman (GER) 14
26. Yoann Le Boulanger (FRA) 14
28. Jimmy Engoulvent (FRA) 15
30. Axel Merckx (BEL) 15
AFP contributed to this report