U.S. rider Hincapie extends lead in time trial

Friday, September 14, 2007
Ian McKissick of the BMC Racing team pedaled out of the starting chute of stage 3 on Thursday at the Tour of Missouri in Branson, Mo. (MARK SCHIEFELBEIN ~ Associated Press)

The inaugural race reached its midpoint.

BRANSON, Mo. -- Levi Leipheimer of Santa Rosa, Calif., rode to a dominating individual time trial stage 3 win Thursday during the Tour of Missouri, while teammate George Hincapie extended his overall race lead.

Leipheimer, who rides for the Discovery Channel team and was the third-place finisher in this year's Tour de France, completed the 18-mile hilly time trial in 39 minutes, 37 seconds.

"I would call them middle climbs with a lot of rollers," said Leipheimer, who won the 19th stage of the Tour de France this year, the race's final time trial. "It took a different kind of rhythm."

Nathan O'Neill, (Health Net), a several-time Australian national time trial titlist, finished second in 39:53. Matti Helminen (DFL-Cycling News) of Finland was third in 41:04.

Hincapie of Greenville, S.C., who began the day with a four-second race lead over Dominique Rollin (Kodak-Gallery/Sierra Nevada) of Canada, placed sixth in the third stage, 2:07 behind.

With three stages of the inaugural Tour of Missouri remaining, Hincapie leads William Frischkorn (Team Slipstream) of Boulder, Colo., by 1:40. David Canada (Prodir-Saunier Duval) of Spain is third, trailing by 2:22.

Helminen, the seventh of 112 starters during Thursday's time trial, set the early best time, and it remained the quickest effort for nearly two hours.

O'Neill then moved into the lead, followed by Leipheimer, who began 17 riders later.

"I had to punch it on all the middle climbs and then recover on the downhills," said Leipheimer, who won the Tour of California in February. "I didn't feel that strong. It was OK."

Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel) of Spain, the reigning Tour de France titlist, placed 10th in the stage, trailing Leipheimer by 2:57.

The 562.2-mile, six-day race continues Friday with the race's longest stage, the 133-mile road race from Lebanon to Columbia. The event concludes Sunday with a 74-mile circuit race Sunday in St. Louis.

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