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Colorado’11 St.3: Don’t Mess With Levi
Photo report: While Levi Leipheimer might not be the rider of a few years back, he is absolutely one not to be trifled with when the big racing heads to home waters, that is, the USA. In the US, there are very few riders who can lay claim to a record like Levi's. On Thursday, Leipheimer set about making sure he becomes the first winner of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

Photography by Darrell Parks - -

Thursday's 16.1 kilometer time trial from Vail to Vail Pass is a legendary route, a shining reminder of the glory of years gone by during the time of the Red Zinger and Coors Classics. It's also the only course that this year's USA Pro Cycling Classic replicates from its predecessors.

Tejay Van Garderen went into Stage 3 with a tenuous lead at the top of the standings following an excellent second place finish in Aspen yesterday. Van Garderen was confident in his chances to defend his overall lead following a recent victory in the Tour of Utah's time trial - defeating a number of big names in the process, including Levi Leipheimer.

Leipheimer, who lost 45 seconds in the wet, technical finish the day before, came into the day clearly fired up and performed as such - taking the win and the overall lead, but only barely - Christian Vande Velde lost out to longtime friend Leipheimer by half a second.

The two veterans' performances were more than enough for them to leapfrog Van Garderen, who performed well to take 6th, but not enough to hold on to the lead.

The GC is quite tight at the top with the top five separated by only 53 seconds and the top four separated by just 21.

The fans turned out en masse to cheer on their heroes in Vail on a perfect summer day in the Rockies.

The first turn.

Freddie Rodriguez sets out.

Most Aggressive Rider, Andre Steensen, heads for Vail Pass.

George Hincapie was 10th on the day and now sits 5th overall - 53 seconds behind Levi Leipheimer.

Cadel Evans was 9th - he's now 7th overall, 1:19 in arrears of Leipheimer.

Jens Voigt put in a classic hard nose performance to take 8th.

David Zabriskie made amends for his not so awesome Prologue with 7th atop Vail Pass.

Tejay Van Garderen was in yellow at the start, but he'd eventually finish the day in 6th and head to bed third overall - 17 seconds back.

Dutch National TT Champion, Stef Clement, put in an excellent performance to finish fifth in Stage 3.

Tom Danielson recovered from his intestinal maladies to finish 4th in the stage and settle into 4th overall as well.

Rafael Infantino continues to impress. He was third in Stage 3 and now stands tall in 6th overall.

Christian Vande Velde narrowly lost out to Levi Leipheimer - by less than a second! He's now Levi's closest rival, only 11 seconds adrift.

Leipheimer got his revenge in Stage 3 - he took the stage, set the best ever time on the course, and now holds the overall lead with three days to go.

A happy, triumphant Levi Leipheimer on the podium.

Van Garderen might have lost yellow, but he still has the Best Young Rider classification all but wrapped up.

A kiss.

A big kiss for race leader, Levi Leipheimer.

The jerseys.

Stage Three Results
1. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioShack 0:25:47
2. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo
3. Rafael Infantino Abreu (Col) EPM - UNE 0:00:04
4. Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:00:33
5. Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:40
6. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad 0:00:51
7. David Zabriskie (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:00:59
8. Jens Voigt (Ger) Leopard Trek 0:01:01
9. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
10. George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:01:11

General Classification
1. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioShack 10:30:29
2. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:00:11
3. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad 0:00:17
4. Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:00:21
5. George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:53
6. Rafael Infantino Abreu (Col) EPM - UNE 0:01:14
7. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:18
8. Stef Clement (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:01:42
9. Bruno Pires (Por) Leopard Trek 0:01:49
10. Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling 0:01:50
11. Ivan Rovny (Rus) Team RadioShack 0:02:07
12. Jeff Louder (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:02:17


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