Taylor Phinney Powers to Time Trial Victory in USAPCC
In the "race of truth," Taylor Phinney (USA) of Team BMC Racing delivered an impressive time of 17’25”50 to claim the final stage win of 2012 in front of a monumental crowd in downtown Denver, Colorado. Vande Velde took second in the stage, followed by Phinney's American teammate Tejay van Garderen. In the overall, van Garderen took second, followed by Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Team Omega Pharma-QuickStep.
"I didn't have a specific time in mind and I didn't have a radio," a proud Phinney commented after being celebrated on the podium in Denver. "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."
"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," USA Pro Cycling Challenge winner Vande Velde told reporters. "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 52 seconds, today's individual time trial 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) Team Garmin-Sharp 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, and rode at an average speed of 32.7 mph, 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 this year's USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
"I’m beyond excited to win today. It’s a great honor to win in the final stage of the USA Pro Challenge," Phinney explained and continued "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."
For most of the day the top-3 would be Phinney, Peter Velits (SVK) of Omega Pharma-QuickStep and Tom Zirbel (USA) of Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies. That was until Tom Danielson (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp logged a time of 17’54”62 to take third and knock Zirbel down to fourth.
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 General Classification contenders to take home the overall win.
Last year’s fifth place finisher George Hincapie (USA) of Team BMC Racing, who is a former three-time national road champion and holds the record for participating in the most Tour de France races (17), ended his remarkable pro 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," a deeply moved Hincapie told reporters in the finish zone. "The support from all of you is amazing and I’m so happy for this to be my last race ever."
"It's been a long career for me, a good career and I'm proud of it," Hincapie added. "I'm sad to leave, but at the same time, I'm excited to spend more time with my family and start a new life." Hincapie was quick to add he won't stay away from the sport too long. "I'm going mountain biking with a buddy of mine on Tuesday," he said with a smile on his face.
The final jerseys of the race were awarded under blue skies on the podium in downtown Denver. Vande Velde re-claimed the Exergy Leader Jersey. Several other jersey winners remained unchanged, with Jens Voigt (GER) of Team RadioShack-Nissan retaining the Nissan King of the Mountains Jersey (no points were awarded in today's time trial stage), Tyler Farrar (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp keeping the Waste Management Sprint Jersey and Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) of Bontrager Livestrong Team keeping the Aquadraat Best Young Rider Jersey. Tom Danielson (USA) of Team Garmin-Sharp was awarded the Evolve Most Aggressive Rider Jersey for his overall effort throughout the week of tough racing in Colorado.