USA Pro Challenge: Phinney tops in the TT, Vande Velde triumphant in the overall
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Sunday, August 26, 2012

USA Pro Challenge: Phinney tops in the TT, Vande Velde triumphant in the overall

by Kyle Moore at 6:07 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
 
Leipheimer only manages ninth, handing yellow to Vande Velde; Van Garderen second on the podium

USA Pro Cycling ChallengeTaylor Phinney (BMC Racing) continued to show his stellar progress with another big win in the time trial discipline, this time in the stage seven finale of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Phinney started in the middle of the field and set a blazing time of 17 minutes and 25 seconds on the 15.3km course, a time that would never be seriously threatened.

With the stage win in Phinney’s bag, all eyes turned to the three-way American battle for the overall victory, which eventually went to Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp). Vande Velde was in contention with Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) and Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) – the same three members of the podium in the inaugural edition in 2011.

Van Garderen was off first of the three and set the second best time at every check, behind team-mate Phinney, and hit the finish in 17’44”, good for second. But Vande Velde had bested Van Garderen all the way, taking the final corners with precision and going nine seconds faster at the line. Already with a 12-second buffer on Van Garderen going in, Vande Velde’s time eliminated the BMC rider from contention, leaving it up to Leipheimer.

But the defending champion, who took yellow after stage six with a late move on Flagstaff Hill, didn’t have the legs to compete with his compatriots. Leipheimer crossed ninth in 18’09”, dropping him to third overall on the podium while confirming the stage win for Phinney.

“I didn't have a specific time in mind and I didn't have a radio,” Phinney said at the finish. “I just went out there and gave it everything I had. I felt like I was going fast. I saved enough up for the last three kilometers and absolutely buried myself. Going for the win today was a big carrot for me that I was chasing. So it was good motivation to come here. This was my home race. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.”

After taking second in the inaugural USA Pro Challenge last year, Vande Velde drew extra motivation in looking for his first individual win in several years.

“I’ve been the bridesmaid so many times in my career, I just wasn’t going to let this one slip away,” Vande Velde smiled to TV reporters afterward. “My team did everything. I just had to sweep up at the end. They did the brunt of the work, from Tommy [Danielson] ripping it out of Durango, his alma mater, all the way to today, we’ve been at the forefront.

“Tom got the most aggressive rider, and Tyler [Farrar] got the sprint jersey. It’s been a great, great week.”

Last placed Serguei Klimov (RusVelo) was first off on a great weather day in Denver. Early best times were held by Matt Brammier (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Danny Summerhill (Garmin-Sharp), Ryan Roth (Spidertech-C10) and Roth’s team-mate Hugo Houle before American TT champ Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Sharp) came through, stopping the clock at 18’10”.

It was a valiant effort for ‘Captain America,’ given the veteran’s health issues throughout the week, which likely hampered his ability to place higher than his ultimate finish in tenth.

After catching his minute-man, it became clear that Phinney was on a flier, and his mark of 17’25” was a full 45 seconds faster than Zabriskie, an insurmountable time for the rest of the day. Noted time trial specialist Tom Zirbel (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) was the second rider to dip under 18 minutes, clocking a 17’56”. Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) then went a bit better, ten seconds quicker than Zirbel but still 21 ticks back of Phinney.

Tanel Kangert (Astana) and Jens Voigt (Radioshack-Nissan) both set solid times, as did Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale). After Danielson clocked what was the fourth best time at the moment, and Andreas Kloden (Radioshack-Nissan) failed to threaten, the final three Americans hit the start house.

Though he couldn’t challenge his team-mate Phinney, Van Garderen set solid times at each of the four checks that came quickly in succession along the 15km route. Confidence for the young American was high when he took to the course.

“I wasn't ready to lose this race. I was convinced I was going to win,” Van Garderen revealed afterward. “Even being down on time, I thought, ‘I got this.’ I felt super confident and really wanted to win. The team worked hard for me. It was my hometown race, my family was here and it was George Hincapie's last race. I wanted to give him a victory.”

And Van Garderen would have brought the much-desired victory to BMC if it weren’t for the on-fire Vande Velde. After helping team-mates to big wins throughout the season, the 36-year-old rode with passion and purpose. Upon crossing the finish line after besting Van Garderen, Vande Velde didn’t have to wait long for Leipheimer.

When it was clear that the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider was far enough outside his time, Vande Velde got a mugging from Danielson and his first overall stage win since the 2008 Tour of Missouri.

USA Pro Cycling Challenge stage seven brief results:

1, Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) in 17’25”
2, Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) at 10s
3, Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) at 19s
4, Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) at 21s
5, Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) at 29s
6, Tom Zirbel (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) at 31s
7, Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) at 37s
8, Tanel Kangert (Astana) at 40s
9, Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) at 43s
10, David Zabriskie (Garmin-Sharp) at 45s

Final General Classification:

1, Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp)
2, Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) at 21s
3, Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) at 24s
4, Andreas Kloden (Radioshack-Nissan) at 1’08”
5, Janez Brajkovic (Astana) at 1’14”
6, Jakob Fuglsang (Radioshack-Nissan) at 1’24”
7, Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) at 1’28”
8, Matthew Busche (Radioshack-Nissan) at 1’32”
9, Peter Stetina (Garmin-Sharp) at 1’39”
10, Joe Dombrowski (Bontrager-Livestrong) at 1’40”

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