Hincapie leads the way as Americans dominate

Hincapie, Leipheimer, Landis and Armstrong: it's an all-American leaderboard as the Dauphine gets go

Hincapie, Leipheimer, Landis and Armstrong: it's an all-American leaderboard as the Dauphine gets go
George Hincapie, of the Discovery Channel team, held on to his overall lead in the week long Dauphine Libere stage race in the French Alps, despite Thor Hushovd's win in the opening road stage to Givors today. At the end of the 224 km stage from Aix-les-Bains, the big Norwegian proved to be the quickest of the bunch, outsprinting South African Robert Hunter. Meanwhile, Hincapie, buoyed by the support of his Discovery Channel team mates, conserved his narrow overall lead of one second from former team mate, Levi Leipheimer, now of Gerolsteiner. In fact, it has been a very good 48 hours for the Lance Armstrong-Johan Bruyneel school of cycling excellence; four Americans - Hincapie, Leipheimer, Floyd Landis and Armstrong himself - all of whom rode for US Postal, currently dominate the top five places on overall classification. Wendesday's time trial in Roanne has already taken on great significance, particularly as 24 hours later the race climbs to the summit of Mont Ventoux. Hincapie is enjoying the luxury of being team leader, rather than team helper. He's experienced both roles but this is the first time that he has found himself being a protected star racing in the Alps. "They rode hard to keep me in the yellow jersey and I say a big thanks to them," Hincapie said of his team mates. "This is a really big deal for me and my family. Especially as Lance also has his own preparations for the Tour." For his part, Armstrong is handily placed to take pole position should his team mate falter and an all-American battle for supremacy, ebbing and flowing through the Alps, now looks very possible. Overall standings after prologue and first road stage: 1. George Hincapie (United States / Discovery Channel) in 5:20:50 2. Levi Leipheimer (United States / Gerolsteiner) @1 sec 3. Andrey Kashechkin (Kazakhstan / Credit Agricole) @ 3 sec 4. Floyd Landis (United States / Phonak) @ 5 sec 5. Lance Armstrong (United States / Discovery Channel) @ 6 sec 6. Oscar Pereiro (Spain / Phonak) @ 7 sec 7. Alberto Contador (Spain / Liberty Seguros) @ 9 sec 8. Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Spain / Illes Balears) @ 13 sec 9. Davide Rebellin (Italy / Gerolsteiner) @ 13 sec 10. Francisco Jose Lara (Spain / T-Mobile) @ 14 sec
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