The 11-second margin held by Levi Leipheimer since Wednesday was all he needed to win the title at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge that ended in Denver on Sunday.
It was the 37-year-old Team RadioShack cyclist's third tour championship this year, after victories at the Tour de Suisse and the Tour of Utah.
He shared the podium with runner-up Christian Vande Velde of Garmin Cervelo and Tejay Van Garderen, 23, of HTC-Highroad. Add in Tom Danielson (Garmin) in 4th and George Hincapie (BMC Racing) in 5th, and you have Americans owning the top 5 spots.
“This is one of the best victories of my career,” Leipheimer said after the race. “Just the way it all
played out, taking the jersey, losing the jersey, and really having to
pull out one my best performances of my career to take the jersey back
and hold on to it. Last and most importantly, my team was fantastic.”
Leipheimer took the jersey in Stage 1 on a uphill attack in Crested Butte, but lost it the following day to Van Garderen. Leipheimer earned it back in the uphill individual time trial on Wednesday. He held onto his slim 11 second margin over Vande Velde the rest of the week.
Winning the final stage of the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Sunday was Italy's Daniel Oss of Liquigas. That made three straight stage victories for Liquigas; Elia Viviani, who finished second, had the other two.
Stage 6 was a 71-mile route from Golden to Denver. It was all downhill, except for a grueling 1,300-foot climb over Lookout Mountain early in the race.
An attack on that climb was caught by a chase group that included Tour de France winner Cadel Evans and Thomas Peterson (a Garmin-Cervelo cyclist from North Bend, WA).
Most of the peloton came back together, then another breakaway formed for the six 5-mile laps around downtown Denver that ended the race. That was later brought back too.
In addition to his three championships this year, Leipheimer finished second in the Amgen Tour of California in May to teammate Chris Horner. His biggest disappointment of the year had to be the Tour de France, where crashes conspired against him.
Speaking of the Tour, Tour winner Evans finished in 7th place, overall, 1:18 behind Leipheimer. Meanwhile, Tour runner-up Andy Schleck finished 34th, while his brother Frank, who finished 3rd in the Tour, finished in 13th place.
Top 10 overall (unchanged since Wednesday)
1. Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack
2. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin Cervelo — :11
3. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC Highroad — :17
4. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin Cervelo — :21
5. George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing — :53
6. Rafael Infantino (Colombia) EPM-UNE — 1:14
7. Cadel Evans (Australia) BMC Racing — 1:18
8. Stef Clement (Netherlands) Rabobank — 1:42
9. Bruno Pires (Colombia) Leopard Trek — 1:49
10. Rory Sutherland (Australia) UnitedHealthCare — 1:50