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USA Pro Cycling Challenge: Levi Leipheimer takes the lead and control of the race

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The Vail Time Trial was built for Levi Leipheimer.

He is a time-trial specialist racing on a course that prides itself on punishing mountain climbs higher than that of any other race in the world.

Leipheimer didn't waste the opportunity, winning the stage and retaking the overall lead in the race. Click through to watch highlights.

The 25 minutes and 47.08 seconds total turned in by Leipheimer bested second-place finisher Christian Vande Velde by a half second. Both Leipheimer and Vande Velde, with a time of 25 minutes and 47.66 seconds, beat the previous course record held by Ben Day.

Leipheimer reclaimed the leaders jersey one day after surrendering it to Tejay Van Garderen during the Queen Stage. Van Garderen took the overall lead on the strength of a fast and gutsy descent down Independence Pass. Afterwards he stated Leipheimer "isn't the strongest descender." Leipheimer was asked if that comment motivated him.

"Sure, Tejay made a good point -- you have to be able to climb well and descend well," he responded in a statement. "I made a mistake by not taking a rain jacket at the top. When the rain came in, I was too cold to control the bike. The point he made was absolutely fair, but it definitely motivated me today."

Leipheimer enjoys an eleven second lead over Vande Velde and the top five, all still American riders, are less than a minute behind Leipheimer. Boulder resident and pre-race favorite Tom Danielson was stricken with food poisoning Wednesday night. Yesterday morning he sent out the following tweet: "Rough night for me battling food poisoning. Hope I can start this afternoon. what a bummer."

He showed pretty well on the ten-mile course and sits in fourth place, 21 seconds off the lead.

Leipheimer took back the jersey at a crucial point. A lot of people, including Stage Two winner George Hincapie, have stated that the leader after the Vail Time Trial will not have to give the leader's jersey away for the rest of the race.

"I think the chances are high, but now that I'm in this position, it's different," said Leipheimer. "Now I'm on the defensive and these next three days are daunting for me and for my team. We're very motivated -- I gave up the Quiznos Leader Jersey once and I don't really want to give it up again."

Today's stage is an 82 mile trek from Avon to Steamboat Springs. From there, racers will take a 105 mile trip to Breckenridge before being transported to Golden and sprinting through a 73 mile course into downtown Denver for the finale on Sunday.

Here are highlights from yesterday's time trial:

More from our Sports archive: "USA Pro Cycling Challenge: 5 things to know about the race."

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