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Christian Vande Velde earned the USA Pro Challenge title
Aug 27th, 12. In one final battleground, a 15.3km TT, Christian Vande Velde fought hard to win the USA Pro Challenge title while Taylor Phinney earned the final stage win.
In a battle between the seasoned veterans and the newcomers, Stage 7 of the 2012 USA Pro Challenge came down to a matter of seconds in the Individual Time Trial that saw veteran Christian Vande Velde (USA) of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda take home the overall win.
In the "race of truth," Taylor Phinney (USA) of BMC Racing Team put up an impressive time of 17'25"50 to claim the final stage.
Vande Velde took second in the stage, followed by Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team. In the overall, van Garderen took second, followed by defending champion Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Omega Pharma-QuickStep.
"I was really excited yesterday after I stole some time from Tejay van Garderen and was able to keep close to Levi Leipheimer. It was an amazing race, straight to finish," said Vande Velde.
"The opportunity to participate in a race like this, of this caliber is a beautiful thing. As long as there are races like the USA Pro Challenge in America, I want to race as long as I can. The crowds are so positive and so happy."
After a tough week of racing over mountains at high altitude and with the Top-10 riders only separated by about 52sec, the ITT was anyone's race. By removing the team factor, the flat and fast course in downtown was a tough individual test and a fight for the General Classification.
With each rider besting the man before him, U.S. National Time Trial Champion Dave Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda posted the first time that stuck at 18'10"74, which would eventually put him in tenth place overall. That was until Phinney, who hit the block 26th today, crossed the line with a 17'25"50, a time that would stick for the rest of the day and give him the final stage win of 2012.
"I'm beyond excited to win today. It's a great honour to win in the final stage of the USA Pro Challenge," said Phinney. "This was one of the best weekends of my life. Coming into Boulder the crowds just kept getting bigger and bigger; I was getting teary-eyed."
With the day coming to a close and the top-ranked riders getting ready to head out on their test against the clock, the results between Vande Velde, van Garderen and Leipheimer at the splits were close and everyone was watching to see who would take the win. In the end Vande Velde finished ahead of the other two GC contenders to take home the overall win.
Last year's fifth place finisher George Hincapie (USA) of BMC Racing Team, who is a former three-time national road champion and holds the record for participating in the most Tour de France races (17), capped off his professional cycling career today with the 2012 USA Pro Challenge.
"I really felt the emotion from the crowd and this is what's gotten me through the last several years," said Hincapie. "The support from all of you is amazing and I'm so happy for this to be my last race ever.
The final jerseys of the 2012 race - Vande Velde re-claimed the Exergy Leader Jersey. Several other jersey winners remained unchanged, with Jens Voigt (GER) of RadioShack-Nissan-Trek retaining the Nissan King of the Mountains Jersey (no points were awarded today), Tyler Farrar (USA) of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda the Waste Management Sprint Jersey and Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) of Bontrager Livestrong Team the Aquadraat Best Young Rider Jersey.
Tom Danielson (USA) of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda was awarded the Evolve Most Aggressive Rider Jersey for his overall effort throughout the week.
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