Hincapie, Discovery Team prevail in Tour of Missouri

Sunday, September 16, 2007 | 5:58 p.m. CDT; updated 11:36 p.m. CDT, Friday, June 27, 2008

ST. LOUIS — George Hincapie took the individual title and his Discovery Channel team claimed the team title Sunday in its final U.S. appearance, playing it safe in the final stage of the six-day Tour of Missouri.

Ivan Dominguez of Toyota-United took his second stage of the tour in a mass sprint, finishing in 2 hours, 37 minutes and 13 seconds. He also won the first stage, an 85-mile road race with finishing circuits in Kansas City.

Brad Huff, of Springfield, the top sprinter for Team Slipstream, crashed within 100 yards of the finish line. Huff ended up several yards away from his bike but rode across the finish line after team members rushed to his aid.

Hincapie, 34, has been with Discovery since the team’s inception 11 years ago and is a key member of units that won the Tour de France eight times, the first seven by Lance Armstrong and the last this year by Alberto Contador.

Contador also raced in the Tour of Missouri, this time serving as support. Hincapie, of Greenville, S.C., took the individual lead in the second stage, a 125.6-mile road race from Clinton to Springfield. He sat in the peloton throughout the final stage, a 74-mile race in downtown St. Louis that made seven circuits around Union Station, with no change in his lead of 1 minute, 40 seconds entering the finale.

The entire tour served as a victory lap for Discovery, which also featured Contador, Levi Leipheimer and Yaroslav Popovych, who finished first, third and eighth in this year’s Tour de France.

Thousands of fans lined downtown streets for the largest major cycling event in St. Louis. It was an unprecedented third major sports contest on the same day downtown, with the St. Louis Rams and St. Louis Cardinals both playing to sellout crowds totaling more than 65,000 just blocks away.

“What can I say?” Dominguez said. “They’re all good. There was a lot of people watching the race and I had a lot of people yelling my name.”

A four-man breakaway opened a gap of 2:15 after the third of seven 10-mile circuits that grew to 4 minutes before the Discovery Channel team, which sat at the front of the main peloton and controlled the tempo, started the charge.

The final member of the break, Bernard Van Ulden of Navigators Insurance, was reeled in between the third and fourth mile of the final circuit.

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