After almost four and a half hours of racing up and down hills and battling winds of twenty miles per hour over almost 100 miles of terrain, most of the standings were decided in the concluding sprint of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge's first stage.
American Levi Leipheimer broke away from the pack during the final stretch in Crested Butte, winning the stage and taking the overall lead. Click through to watch highlights.
Fresh off a win at the Tour of Utah, Leipheimer, of Team RadioShack, won the second of two sprint lines, earning him a ten-second advantage and an eleven-second cumulative lead over fellow American Christian Vande Velde. Tejay Van Garderen of HTC-Highroad fills out an all-American top three.
Early in the race, before a climb up 11,315 foot Monarch Pass, four riders -- Bradley White, a onetime Colorado resident, plus Will Dickeson, Jay Thomson and Eduard Alexander Beltran -- broke away from the pack. At one point, these riders built a five-minute lead over the rest of the riders before heading into the King of the Mountain challenge up Monarch Pass.
Beltran would reach the summit first and earn extra points toward the King of the Mountain jersey. As the riders descended from the pass and reached speeds of sixty miles per hour, White and Thomson broke farther out in front of the pack. White won the first sprint line in Gunnison, earning points for that jersey.
Once the racers left Gunnison and headed toward Crested Butte, they were all in one big group again. Several racers made charges at the lead, but Leipheimer put a charge into his pedals at the right time.
After winning the prologue German Patrick Gretsch fell to seventeenth overall. Seven American riders sit in the top ten, showing the advantage they might have over Europeans in dealing with the altitude. Boulder resident Tom Danielson moved from twentieth to ninth, where he is 37 seconds behind Leipheimer.
Here are the promised highlights:
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