American Lance Armstrong won the 49th annual Nevada City Classic Sunday, a modest one-day race set in the foothills of northern California, to continue his build-up to the Tour de France.
More than 15,000 fans turned out for the race, run on a 1.7km loop in the historic gold mining town of Nevada City, and were treated to the sight of seven-time Tour de France champion Armstrong claiming his first race victory since coming out of retirement in January after an absence of three-and-a-half years.
Armstrong, Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer and Bissell's Ben Jacques-Maynes formed a three-man breakaway that took a lead of more than two minutes and finally lapped the field.
With six laps to go on the tough, seven-turn course, Armstrong was on his own, and the American, wearing the jersey of his Livestrong foundation rather than Astana colours, crossed the line with his hands raised in triumph.
Jacques-Maynes finished second and Leipheimer third.
"What a great Nevada City Classic," Armstrong enthused on the social networking site Twitter. "I managed to get the win, Levi Leipheimer was 3rd. HARD race. The crowds? Electric..."
Greg LeMond won the race from 1979 - 1981. Armstrong's first Nevada City Classic was in 1991, when he finished second to Chris Huber. Leipheimer won in 1998.
Armstrong's next race is the Tour de France, which starts July 4 in Monaco.
© 2009 AFP & BikeRadar