Skip to main content

Big George surprises the sprinters

Image 1 of 16

USA's George Hincapie (High Road), 34, wins Dauphiné Libéré stage two after a last minute move from the front of the peloton

USA's George Hincapie (High Road), 34, wins Dauphiné Libéré stage two after a last minute move from the front of the peloton
(Image credit: AFP)
Image 2 of 16

Crédit Agricole controlled the peloton

Crédit Agricole controlled the peloton
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 3 of 16

USA's George Hincapie (High Road), 34, wins Dauphiné Libéré stage two after a last minute move from the front of the peloton.

USA's George Hincapie (High Road), 34, wins Dauphiné Libéré stage two after a last minute move from the front of the peloton.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 4 of 16

George Hincapie (High Road), 34, celebrates after winning Dauphiné Libéré stage two.

George Hincapie (High Road), 34, celebrates after winning Dauphiné Libéré stage two.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 5 of 16

Norway's Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole), 30, kept the leader's yellow top after finishing fifth in stage two.

Norway's Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole), 30, kept the leader's yellow top after finishing fifth in stage two.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
Image 6 of 16

Maxime Monfort (Cofidis)

Maxime Monfort (Cofidis)
(Image credit: Jean-François Quénet)
Image 7 of 16

Norway's Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) talks to the Norwegian press.

Norway's Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) talks to the Norwegian press.
(Image credit: Jean-François Quénet)
Image 8 of 16

George Hincapie (High Road) attacked in the final kilometre to take the second stage.

George Hincapie (High Road) attacked in the final kilometre to take the second stage.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 9 of 16

Hincapie on the podium after his stage win.

Hincapie on the podium after his stage win.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 10 of 16

George Hincapie (High Road) takes his second victory of the season.

George Hincapie (High Road) takes his second victory of the season.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 11 of 16

Crédit Agricole controlled the peloton for much of the 184km stage.

Crédit Agricole controlled the peloton for much of the 184km stage.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 12 of 16

Thor Hushovd, followed by Cadel Evans and Australian champion Matt Lloyd (both Silence - Lotto).

Thor Hushovd, followed by Cadel Evans and Australian champion Matt Lloyd (both Silence - Lotto).
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 13 of 16

The peloton roles through the French countryside.

The peloton roles through the French countryside.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
Image 14 of 16

Bruyneel makes a rare race appearance

Bruyneel makes a rare race appearance
(Image credit: John Pierce/Photosport International)
Image 15 of 16

George Hincapie on the podium after winning stage 2.

George Hincapie on the podium after winning stage 2.
(Image credit: John Pierce/Photosport International)
Image 16 of 16

Hushovd on the podium with another yellow jersey.

Hushovd on the podium with another yellow jersey.
(Image credit: John Pierce/Photosport International)

Hushovd in yellow for another day

The big names are in action at the Dauphiné. Following the examples of Levi Leipheimer and Alejandro Valverde, George Hincapie won stage two in Vienne. Hincapie anticipated the action of the sprinters and preceded Sébastien Chavanel while Thor Hushovd finished in fifth place and kept his yellow jersey for the time trial.

It was a typical day of racing with with a three men breakaway chased down by the bunch. High Road gave a hand to Crédit Agricole but its plans were totally changed when their top sprinter André Greipel had a flat tyre with 15km to go. "We were working for him for the sprint," said Hincapie. "Until the last five kilometres, that was the plan but with three kilometres to go while riding at 70km/h, we heard from our director Allan Peiper that he was not coming back."

It didn't take long to the American to figure out that he had a personal card to play instead. "I was a little bit sick in the Pyrénées last week," he recalled. "I had no power during the prologue. I felt better yesterday in the lead out for André. Today I took some risk in the last curve. I made a big effort to catch Sebastian (Lang). It worked out. I won, and it was a nice finish."

His anticipation of the bunch sprint marked the end of Sébastien Chavanel's ambitions to win a stage. "I was more surprised by how dangerous the last downhill was than by Hincapie's attack in the final kilometer," the youngest of the Chavanel brothers explained. "Hincapie must have been very strong give the headwind at the end. I was coming across to him, closer and closer, but I missed it by almost nothing. I'm disappointed. I can't enjoy the second place. You know, sprinters always want to win."

It's Hincapie's second win under the colors of High Road after stage seven in the Tour of California. He seems to be enjoying life within his new team. "It's different because we are no longer the favorites of the Tour de France," he said. "But we win more than any other team in the world. We've got guys who can win any kind of race, guys that are good people. We have some of the best sprinters in the world. In my 15th season as a professional, it's nice to give back some of my experience to these young kids."

Now Big George has set his sights on the Tour de France. "For me, I'd love to win another stage at the Tour de France. I hope to have a good Olympics as well," he concluded after a beautiful day of racing in the valley of the Rhône.

Hushovd had mixed feelings about the missed opportunity but enjoyed another day in yellow. He knows it'll probably be the last one as Levi Leipheimer is the favorite for regaining the yellow in Wednesday's time trial in Saint-Paul-en-Jarez. "Hincapie played it well," the Norwegian said. "He was next to me when he attacked, but had I taken his wheel, he would have stopped accelerating immediately, so I had to wait for the whole bunch to catch him. After the work done by my team all day, yesterday and today, I was lacking some kick at the end."

How it unfolded

After less than five kilometres, Stéphane Augé (Cofidis), Benat Albizuri (Euskaltel) and David De La Fuente (Saunier Duval) went clear at the initiative of the Frenchman.

Straight away, the Crédit Agricole team of race leader Thor Hushovd took control of the bunch with mainly two riders: Christophe Le Mével and Pierre Rolland. They allowed the leading trio a maximum advantage of 4'35" set at 25km. At 120km, the gap was 3'40".

At the foot of the fourth category côte de Lupé (134km), Albizuri crashed in a curve. He got back on quickly and rejoined his two companions. De La Fuente was first at the top of the climb ahead of Augé and Albizuri who got dropped and went across before cracking for good.

When High Road came to the front of the bunch and helped Crédit Agricole in the chase, the gap went down to one minute at the foot of the last climb, the côte de la Croix-Régis where De La Fuente preceded Augé while Yaroslav Popovych (Silence-Lotto) was the first man of the peloton at 33 seconds.

De La Fuente and Augé got caught with 12km to go. Popovych crashed in the downhill where Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) attacked, followed by Aurélien Passeron (Saunier Duval). Their advantage was only six seconds with eight kilometers to go, and they were caught by a stretch-out peloton.

André Greipel (High Road), who had a flat tyre with 15km to go, got back on but it was too late for making it to the front part of the bunch. Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) attacked with 700 meters to go, George Hincapie (High Road) rejoined him and avoided the massive sprint. He finished one length of a bike ahead of Sébastien Chavanel (Française des Jeux) while Hushovd stayed in yellow and De La Fuente put the polka dot jersey on his shoulders.

Latest on Cyclingnews