Leipheimer the champion as first USA Pro Cycling Challenge concludes in Denver

Levi Leipheimer

USA Pro Cycling Challenge champion Levi Leipheimer

Denver — Perhaps we should have figured a Montana native by the name of Levi would tame the Colorado high country and win the inaugural  USA Pro Cycling Challenge. But it took a lot more than a birthplace for Levi Leipheimer to win, starting with his record run in the time trial on Wednesday on Vail.

And surprisingly, after several days of the yellow jersey moving from rider to rider, the final four days produced no changes in the order of finish or the time gaps. Which didn’t make Sunday’s final ride into Denver any less entertaining than the rest of the race, producing several breakaways in front of a huge crowd, estimated at 250,000, to watch this 518-mile race come to an end. And while Elia Viviani, who had won previous sprint finishes in Steamboat Springs and Breckenridge, could have won on Sunday, he worked to help his teammate, Daniel Oss, win instead.

And when it was over, Leipheimer hung on for the win, followed by Christian VandeVelde (:11 back), Teejay VanGarderen (:17), Tom Danielson (:21) and veteran George Hincapie (:53) to give Americans a sweep of the race’s top five spots.

Tour de France champion Cadel Evans acquited himself well, finishing seventh (1:18 back), but things didn’t go as well for his podium mates from the tour, Frank Schleck (13th, 2:17 back) and his brother Andy (33rd, 6:65). Find complete stage and overall standings here.

Check out stories on previous stages in the race:

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