US veteran George Hincapie emerged from a six-rider group on Wednesday to win the crash-marred second stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, while young compatriot Tejay Van Garderen became the third race leader in three days.
The 38-year-old Hincapie, a 15-time Tour de France finisher, completed the rainy 210km leg from Gunnison to Aspen in five hours, 26 minutes, 10 seconds.
Van Garderen finished second in the stage that concluded in steady rain. He began the day in sixth position, seven seconds behind Levi Leipheimer. The 23-year-old Van Garderen, the team leader of the US HTC-Highroad squad, leads Hincapie by 16 seconds with four stages left in the inaugural race.
Garmin-Cervelo’s Tom Danielson was third in the stage to move into third overall, 22 seconds back.
“No disrespect to Levi, but he’s not the strongest on the descents,” said Van Garderen, the Tour de France rider who won a time trial stage in the Tour of Utah last week. “But it’s one of my strengths. Our team is not the strongest on paper, but with a rider in the race lead, riders become very motivated.”
Hincapie competes for the -California-based BMC team and was a key teammate of Cadel Evans last month in the Australian’s Tour de France victory. Hincapie had not won a race since claiming the national road title in 2009.
“It has been a while,” Hincapie said. “We had four guys at the top of the climb to help Cadel come back, so I thought I might as well take a chance. It worked out perfectly.”
Tour of Utah winner Leipheimer finished ninth in the stage and dropped to fourth overall, 34 seconds back.
Evans finished seventh in the stage, 45 seconds behind Hincapie, and is sixth overall.
Italy’s Daniele Callegarin, Canadian Andrew Randell and American Sergio Hernandez were transported to a hospital in Gunnison after an eight-rider crash as the field approached the first of two ascents over 3,660m in the stage.
Callegarin, who rides for the US-based Team Type 1 squad, sustained a concussion, two broken hands, severe facial injuries and several other injuries, according to a team spokesperson.
Randell and Hernandez were released, according to the team’s physician, who was at the hospital with the riders.