All the talk is about Lance Armstrong, and who wins the prologue and keeps the yellow jersey for two days at the Dauphiné Libéré? Teammate George Hincapie.
The Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team racer covered the 4.5-mile course in 9 minutes, 55 seconds. Hincapie, 31, kept the leader's jersey the second day in the first stage between Aix les Bains to Givors, finishing 3 seconds behind the day's winner, Thor Hushovd of Norway.
“He was clearly not the favorite but he knew he was in great shape and did an amazing ride,” team manager Johan Bruyneel said about Hincapie's effort. The rider also won Kurrne-Brussels-Kuurne on Feb. 27 this year and came in a heart-breaking second at the finish line at Paris-Roubaix.
The week-long Dauphiné Libéré in southeastern France (click the map) is considered a test of fitness and ability for the upcoming Tour de France, which begins July 2. Armstrong, attempting an unprecedented 7th Tour victory this year before he retires, has chosen the Dauphiné Libéré as a tune-up ride. After the prologue and first stage, he sat in fifth place Monday evening, 6 seconds behind the leader Hincapie.
In fact, US racers dominate the top 5, with Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer (2nd, Gerolsteiner), Floyd Landis (4th, Phonak), and Armstrong. Leipheimer and Landis are contenders in the Tour, as are other Dauphiné Libéré riders Roberto Heras of Spain (and former Postal rider) and Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile).
The official website for the Dauphiné Libéré is in French, so bring your translator, although a daily story is filed in English.