Hincapie wins USA Pro Cycling thriller in Aspen

Race turns up roses for Tejay Van Garderen

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenAugust 24, 2011
Six cyclists separated themselves from the rest of the pack Wednesday as they climbed over Independence Pass and zipped down its steep, narrow curves. It was a thrilling sprint to the finish line that saw American racer George Hincapie cross first as throngs of fans lining Main Street roared with approval.
Tejay Van Garderen is all smiles in the yellow jersey.
Stefanie (Deutsch) Michejda

But it was Tejay Van Garderen, finishing second, who was the day's big winner.

Not only did he impress his Aspen-raised fiancée Jessica Phillips and her hometown friends, Van Garderen, 23, is receiving the yellow jersey with the lowest aggregate time after the third day of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

The third cyclist to complete the 130-mile odyssey from Gunnison to Aspen was none other than Boulder resident Tom Danielson who is living up to the high expectations many observers placed on him before the race.

The red-white-and-blue podium capped a tremendous spectacle of athletic achievement and wild Tour de France-like fanfare with the racers flanked by zany Colorado bike enthusiasts, some of them running in the roads dressed in funny costumes as they tipped their cycling caps to their European counterparts.

The half dozen racers who separated themselves on Independence Pass were aided on the way down by mostly dry roads — a condition that soon changed and factored against the rest of the peloton trailing behind them.

Rain drowned out the hopes of big-name riders like Luxembourg luminaries Andy and Fränk Schleck who endured a slippery descent down the potentially treacherous slopes that define the 12,095-foot scenic mountain pass.

Tour de France champion Cadel Evans fared better than the Schleck brothers, registering an impressive performance that lands him sixth in the overall results with four days left in the competition. Hincapie is now second to Van Garderen in the overall results, with Danielson in third. American racer Christian Vande Velde is fifth overall.

Shortly after the stage began, on the course toward the 12,126-foot Cottonwood Pass, Daniele Callegarin crashed into a cattle guard triggering a violent wreck that left bike wheels bent and faces and limbs bloodied. Callegarin was flown to Swedish Medical Center in Denver after he suffered a severe concussion, significant facial and dental injuries, two broken hands and deep lacerations. It was a multiple-racer pileup that saw Ivan Basso injure his wrist.

Still, Basso pressed on and completed the stage.

Next up is the 10-mile individual time trial in Vail that begins with a relatively flat sprint at 8,300 feet before turning into an upward climb to 9,600 feet. Racers have said it could determine the contest.

The slick roads that most of the cyclists tested down Independence Pass were also a factor on Cottonwood Pass. Ominous clouds hung over much of the course causing some to say Colorado weather could be the tour's X factor.

The seven-day race ends Sunday in Denver.

Before the USA Pro Cycling Challenge's dramatic finish, Van Garderen's fiancée Phillips finished 14th overall in the inaugural three-day Aspen/Snowmass Women’s Pro Stage Race that she started to benefit local young women.

Kristin Armstrong won that contest. Anne Samplonius finished second overall and Kristin McGrath placed third.

Phillips splits her time teaching skiing in Aspen and living in Tuscany, Italy, with Van Garderen.

George Hincapie wins the second stage Wednesday on Main Street in Aspen.
Photo by Stefanie Michejda

comments: 1 Comment on "Hincapie wins USA Pro Cycling thriller in Aspen "

Boo – Aug. 25, 2011, at 7:45 a.m.

Great article and so informative... So great to have the race here. And wonderful video. Loved seeing all the beauty of Colorado's mountains along with the insight of the course of the race.

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