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Hincapie and Hansen: Down but not out

Team Columbia tucked behind stage winner Dessel

Team Columbia tucked behind stage winner Dessel (Image credit: AFP)

By Daniel Benson in Jausiers, France

With team orders dictating that Team Columbia make the day's break, it was perhaps no surprise America's George Hincapie was one of three riders that made the selection. The versatile veteran was one of the first riders chasing behind the four men who sprinted for the line at the top of the final climb, keen to chase after his second Tour stage victory.

"It was nice to have some freedom to attack but I'm disappointed to have missed out on the win," Hincapie said after the stage.

The Columbia rider was an instrumental character within the break, helping to reduce the lead of the lone escapee, Stefan Shumacher, with the aid of team mates Kanstantsin Siutsou and Marcus Burghardt, before the German was dropped.

"I was feeling good on the last climb but I lost too much time in the last section as it became really steep." Unable to catch the leaders on the descent he was forced to try and chase. In normal circumstances he might have succeeded, but the technical and dangerous roads meant that it was almost impossible.

"There was just no room to come back to them, with too many corners and technical sections. Unless you wanted to risk your life it just wasn't going to happen."

Tomorrow Hincapie and his team will have to do it all again as the race climbs the mythical peak of Alpe d'Heuz. With team leader Kim Kirchen lying seventh overall, 3'23" behind the yellow jersey, the team aren't yet giving up hope.

"We're still committed to Kim and it's not over. Not by a long shot. There's still the time trial and tomorrow to come," added Hincapie's team-mate Adam Hansen.

The young Australian, competing in his first Tour de France and his second Grand Tour of 2008 was optimistic, despite an early set back in the stage.

"I couldn't eat and I paid the price near the end. We had three guys in the front break though so it worked well for us. We didn't get the stage but we rode well. I'll just recover as best I can now and prepare for tomorrow. Hopefully it won't be so bad."