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USA Cycling Pro championships - CN

USA, August 30-31, 2008

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Race 2 - August 31: USA professional road race championships, 110 mi /177 km

Complete live report

By Sue George with additional reporting by Mark Zalewski in Greenville, South Carolina

12:56 EDT    Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the USA Cycling Professional Road Championships from Greenville, South Carolina. It's a hot and humid one today.

13:00 EDT    Our riders are receiving their call-ups. They'll tackle 110 miles including four big laps plus three finishing circuits. The big laps feature a climb up Paris Mountain that is expected to again make the race one of attrition - especially given the hot and humid conditions.

13:01 EDT    Racers will start with a neutral roll out - time for a parade for the folks watching today in downtown Greenville.

13:03 EDT    When called up to the stage for a presentation, David Zabriskie (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), who won yesterday's time trial championship, was asked by the race announcer who would win today. "Christain Vande Velde," was his matter-of-fact reply and endorsement of his team-mate as he walked off the stage to get ready for the start.

13:06 EDT    2.5miles/107.5miles to go The riders are underway officially. Apparently, the riders didn't really have a neutral start after all - it was a bit confusing in the beginning as they had a different start than past years and no one knew quite what was going on. A few different turns even confused the cameramen and lead moto driver. The moto driver appeared to almost almost go the wrong way and went down.

13:10 EDT    The racing action is heating up a bit now that everyone seems to know where they are going again. This is Greenville's third time hosting the National Championships for the pro men. It's the final year of their current contract. We've heard they'd love to keep hosting the event, but no word yet on whether USA Cycling will renew here or send the race to a new location. Some of you may recall that for years, it was previously hosted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in early June as the final race in the Triple Crown.

13:12 EDT    Two riders are off the front as the riders complete the opening lap - which is the same as the finish circuit. They are starting today with three of those small circuits.

13:15 EDT    Garmin / Chipotle's Christian Vande Velde said he was disappointed with his third place finish in yesterday's time trial. He told Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski that he had gone out too easy, partially a result of not knowing the new course so well. "I don't even feel like I raced yesterday," he said. So he should be fresh and ready for today's road race.

13:18 EDT    The two riders who launched the initial attack have been caught and the peloton is all together again. Vande Velde will surely have some strong support today. His team is fielding 10 men total - a large squad. In addition, they collected four of the top five spots in yesterday's time trial.

13:24 EDT    9.6miles/100.4miles to go The riders have started their third of three opening small laps. The next time they cross the finish line, they will head out to the big lap. They'll do four of those, followed by three more small laps at the end of the race. It's active at the front where they are racing at about 30 miles per hour, but nothing is sticking away break-wise.

13:26 EDT    We're catching a ride today with the Mavic car. Special thanks go out to Mavic and to our driver Josh, who is a local Greenville resident. We're in the new 9 3 wagon, which we have to say, is much more comfortable than their old car.

13:28 EDT    The short loop is quite technical. In particular, in Cleveland Park, there is a little loop with an off camber, hard chicane. Riders go downhill into the turn and then uphill immediately afterward into another turn. In fact, that's where our TV moto had trouble on the first time through. The riders will see this part of the course on each of the big laps, too, but at least now everyone has gotten a good look so hopefully, future passages will go more smoothly for the motos and the pelotons.

13:28 EDT    Ian MacGregor (Team Type 1) reportedly had a mechanical, of a yet unspecified nature, and received some help, but he is back in action.

13:30 EDT    Two riders have escaped off the front: Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Pro Cycling) and Brad Huff (Jelly Belly). They've earned themselves about 20 seconds.

13:31 EDT    Two more riders bridge up to make a brief group of four; however, the peloton won't let them get away, and it's all back together again.

13:33 EDT    Matthew Howe (DLP Racing) comes off the back and decides to make it a short day as he abandons the race. Fortunately, DLP Racing still has seven riders out there. Howe may have crashed, but we don't know that for sure.

13:35 EDT    One man looking to win today is George Hincapie (Team Columbia), who is racing with a serious home court advantage. We hear the course goes by his house which gives him a serious local knowledge advantage. However, he does only have two team-mates to help him out: John Devine and Craig Lewis.

13:37 EDT    16.0miles/94miles to go We're out on the course now - on a mostly flat road heading toward Paris Mountain. We had a slight deviation due to a downed telephone pole in a neighborhood through which we passed. The course now makes an extra few turns to avoid the hazard, but none of the changes were as technical as anything the racers saw on the small laps. A group of four has a slight advantage - maybe 50m, but they are being pursued by a strung-out peloton charging along behind them.

13:41 EDT    It's all coming back together again.

13:44 EDT    18.7miles/91.3miles to go The four are caught and now a group of 10 is forming as we approach the climb for the first time.

13:47 EDT    The Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast team is working for Andy Bajadali today. "I'm feeling good again this year like last year," he told Mark Zalewski before the start. "My preparation was a bit different this year because the team went to France just before this race for a few weeks to race." Bajadali thinks that bout of European racing will only help him. He finished 19th last year after a stint in the major break of the day with Levi Leipheimer.

13:48 EDT    The racers are on the climb. We've got (unofficially) a group of seven followed by a group of six at 15 seconds. The peloton is at about 30 seconds. We'll get you names as soon as we know them.

13:50 EDT    21miles/89miles to go Craig Lewis (Team Columbia) and Steven Cozza (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) are among those at the front. Looks like Mark Hekman (Toshiba-Aerospace Engineering Group) is having trouble hanging on as the road turns up.

13:54 EDT    Our lead group contains Nick Waite (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast), David Zabriskie (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Steven Cozza (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Michael Creed (Rock Racing), Brad Huff (Jelly Belly), Craig Lewis (Team Columbia) and two other riders to be determined. Their gap is 1:10 to the main peloton, but there are plenty of single riders in between helping to fill that gap.

13:54 EDT    Joe Eldridge (Team Type 1) abandons for the day.

14:03 EDT    25miles/85miles to go The riders are flying down the backside of Paris Mountain. Our lead group has an advantage of about one minute. Jackson Stewart (BMC Racing Team) is alone at about 10 seconds from the leaders. As they get to the bottom of the mountain, we expect the situation may shuffle again.

14:04 EDT    Last year, Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team) won this race ahead of George Hincapie (Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team) and Neil Shirley (Jittery Joe's - Zero Gravity Pro Cycling Team), who was the highest placed non-ProTour racer. We already mentioned that Hincapie will be looking for a win on home turf this year, but Leipheimer is absent - he's attending the Vuelta a Espana with his Astana team-mates.

14:06 EDT    On the subject of Neil Shirley (Jittery Joes), he told us before the race that Andy Bajadali (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast) is the man he will be watching, but he did not discount his own chances, saying that he was feeling and riding pretty well after the Tour of Utah. The peloton is closing the gap to the leaders - it's down to 25 seconds.

14:10 EDT    We expect this year's race dynamic to play out differently than other years when more ProTour riders have been attendance. In past year, the race often turns into the ProTour racers vs. the US domestic-only racers. However, this year the only ProTour racers are Team Columbia's Hincapie, Devine and Craig Lewis.

14:11 EDT    That doesn't mean we should count out Team Columbia due to their small squad. Paris Mountain is a tough climb and while it doesn't tend to lead to the formation of breaks, it does tend to take a toll on the size of the peloton, thereby creating a race of attrition.

14:16 EDT    The peloton came very close to catching the leaders and then backed off, but in the process, the lead group shuffled a bit and we now have a lead group of 12 riders with an again increasing gap of 50 seconds.

14:17 EDT    Our leaders are David Zabriskie (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Brad Huff (Jelly Belly), Lucas Euser (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Jonathan Garcia (BMC Racing Team), Craig Lewis (Team Columbia), Jon Hamblen (Time Pro Cycling), Nick Waite (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast), Michael Creed (Rock Racing), Jackson Stewart (BMC Racing Team), Steven Cozza (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling) and one other rider to be determined.

14:19 EDT    32miles/78miles to go The racers are approaching the feed zone at the end of lap two. The leaders' gap has grown to 1.50. The fast pace and the first trip up Paris Mountain have taken a toll - at least 11 riders have dropped off and are unlikely to catch back on.

14:24 EDT    The leaders finish up the first of four big laps. Nathan Miller (BMC Racing Team), Owen Nielsen (DLP Racing) and Matt Crane (Health Net p/b Maxxis) have abandoned at the feed zone near the end of the first lap.

14:29 EDT    37miles/73miles to go We're still working to get confirmation on the members of the lead group. Our latest understanding is that it contains the following racers: David Zabriskie (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Brad Huff (Jelly Belly), Lucas Euser (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Craig Lewis (Team Columbia), Jon Hamblen (Time Pro Cycling), Nick Waite (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast), Michael Creed (Rock Racing), Steven Cozza (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling), Phil Zajicek (Health Net p/b Maxxis) and Mark Hekman (Toshiba-Aerospace Engineering Group)

14:30 EDT    Spencer Beamer (DLP Racing) is engaged in a solo chase effort at one minute off the pace of the leaders.

14:34 EDT    The gap to the peloton is growing - it's up to 3.30. Of course, having the national time trial champion David Zabriski in your lead group never hurts if you want to open a gap!

14:36 EDT    Michael Creed of Rock Racing is getting some mechanical assistance as he rolls along out on the road in the break.

14:40 EDT    Spencer Beamer (DLP Racing) is losing some ground - he is 1.50 down now from the leaders as they approach Paris Mountain again - one mile to go until their second trip up it.

14:45 EDT    42.5miles/67.5miles to go They take a right turn which immediately kicks up to a steep pitch (12%). Then the course winds around and there are some flatter sections on the way up. At the very top, there are a lot of people watching and cheering.

14:46 EDT    Huff is leading the break - he probably wants to set the tempo so it doesn't go too fast. He's got about 10m. Creed is at the back, out of the saddle a bit and looking comfortable. He looks behind him as if he's looking for something. He wants a bottle. Meanwhile, the peloton starts in at the base of the climb

14:47 EDT    We've identified another rider in our break: Michael Sayers of Team BMC.

14:50 EDT    The peloton is now at 2.40 from the leaders and they don't seem too interested in chasing. Huff is still comfortably leading the break toward the top of the climb.

14:50 EDT    The climb goes for about one mile. Nick Waite (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast) takes over from Huff at the front for a turn.

14:52 EDT    Even though the peloton appears not to be chasing, they are closing the gap some. Now it's down to 2.10 - for a time it was as high as 3.30.

14:53 EDT    45miles/65miles to go Team DLP Racing is down another rider as Boyd Johnson abandons.

15:02 EDT    A reader asked us why Team Colubmia is not participating in the Vuelta a Espana. Turns out they were not invited. Instead they are now racing the Tour of Ireland and the Deutschland Tour and also have plans to race the Tour of Missouri starting September 7.

15:05 EDT    49miles/61miles to go Coming down the main descent after Paris Mountain, the leaders have a 2.30 gap on the peloton. Over the top, the Garmin / Chipotle riders were trying to motivate the others to keep working. With someone like David Zabriskie up front, Garmin will want the break to stick, but his presence might demotivate some of the other teams who are without some of their strongest racers in the break. Racers will have a short rise and then the rest of the descent into town. For those of you wondering, Spencer Beamer (DLP Racing), who was on his own between the peloton and the break, was caught leading up to Paris Mountain.

15:15 EDT    We have received confirmation that one rider not in the break is Mark Hekman (Toshiba-Aerospace Engineering Group). Instead we do still have Jonathan Garcia (BMC Racing Team) as we had originally thought.

15:18 EDT    Michael Creed (Rock Racing) has a rear flat and signals for a wheel change. The racers are approaching the feed zone at the end of the second of four big laps.

15:21 EDT    56.6miles/53.4miles to go The riders see 1km to go until they cross the start / finish line, which will mark the halfway point of the race. We've confirmed and rejected a few riders from our break of 12 men and now we think we've got it. The break includes David Zabriskie (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Brad Huff (Jelly Belly), Lucas Euser (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Jonathan Garcia (BMC Racing Team), Craig Lewis (Team Columbia), Jon Hamblen (Time Pro Cycling), Nick Waite (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast), Michael Creed (Rock Racing), Jackson Stewart (BMC Racing Team), Steven Cozza (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling), Phil Zajicek (Health Net p/b Maxxis)

15:24 EDT    Creed has regained the lead group following his wheel change. The 12 men now sit at 2:40 ahead of the peloton. Garmin / Chipotle is probably the best positioned team within the break - they are the only team with three racers. BMC has two racers while most of the rest of major teams are represented with one rider each.

15:34 EDT    61miles/49miles to go There are some attacks within the lead group, which has the effect of speeding them up a bit; however, nothing sticks and they are all together again and riding quite slowly. The gap is at 2.45, so it's grown slightly.

15:35 EDT    Huff seems to be hurting a bit. He's taking advantage of the slowdown to shake out both legs.

15:46 EDT    65miles/45miles to go Craig Lewis (Team Columbia) had a mussette bag piece stuck in his chainring. Amazingly, the Mavic support mechanic was able to get it out while Lewis was still riding, immediately next to the car with no incident. "That's one of the crazier things I've done while in the car," said the mechanic who freed Lewis from the mussette bag afterward. The leaders are making the right turn onto the climb to begin trip #3 up the climb.

15:47 EDT    The break is shattering as they climb up. A few riders are coming off the back one at a time. Looks like Jackson Stewart (BMC Racing Team) and Jon Hamblen (Time Pro Cycling) are off the back.

15:48 EDT    Brad Huff (Jelly Belly) and Nick Waite (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast) also drift off the back. Waite appears to catch back up, but he may come off again on the steeper sections.

15:48 EDT    David Zabriskie (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) comes off the back, but he is trying hard not to lose more ground and to catch back up.

15:49 EDT    Zabriskie's efforts are successful and he regains contact. Meanwhile Steven Cozza (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) is at the front setting the pace.

15:51 EDT    The leaders are about 3/4 of the way up. David Zabriskie (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) and Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling) are falling off the back. The two are together - they must be feeling yesterday's effort. They still have the leaders in sight - about 100m ahead of them. Creed looks comfortable - he is out of the saddle and looking around - taking stock of who is there.

15:53 EDT    The leaders make the final turn on the climb, with Cozza still driving the pace at the front. It'll be another steep part in front of the crowds at the top. Zabriske is getting dropped by Zirbel, who is out of the saddle trying to catch back on. Now Zabriske has to stand to close the gap to Zirbel. Huff is on Zabriske's wheel. Allen Lim is up here with nylon stockings full of ice to give his riders on this hot and humid day. They would feel pretty good right about now!

15:58 EDT    For those of you missed it earlier today, we did live coverage of the Vuelta a Espana stage two. Check out the full live report from the Vuelta a Espana from earlier today.

16:00 EDT    Huff, Zabriske and Zirbel have regained the rest of the remaining leaders as they fly down the descent. Unfortunately, it looks like three riders didn't make the cut - both BMC riders and Nick Waite of KBS / Medifast.

16:03 EDT    72miles/38miles to go The gap to the leaders is slowly coming down - it's now at 1.30 as everyone races under sunny skies. One of our break members, Craig Lewis (Team Columbia) is a Greenville local. He's been living in the area here next to George Hincapie for a few years now. No doubt he knows this course like the back of his hand.

16:06 EDT    The riders who dropped from the break on the last climb have been caught by the main peloton, which now sits 1.05 behind the leaders. Jason from Washington, DC, asked what we thought about the break staying away. To us, it seems unlikely that it will stick. The peloton will likely turn on the gas for the final trip up Paris Mountain as many teams within it are not represented by their strongest riders in the break, but we'll have to see!

16:07 EDT    Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling) seems to be having trouble again. He is dropping off the rest of the leaders slightly on the rollers.

16:09 EDT    As a reminder, here is our current race situation: We have the leaders (David Zabriskie (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Steven Cozza (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Lucas Euser (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Brad Huff (Jelly Belly), Craig Lewis (Team Columbia), Jon Hamblen (Time Pro Cycling), Michael Creed (Rock Racing), Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling), Phil Zajicek (Health Net p/b Maxxis) with a 1.05 advantage over the chasing peloton.

16:12 EDT    Bissell, Garmin, and Health Net Maxxis are seriously chasing now from within the peloton. Their efforts are causing the gap to drop quickly now. It's down to 35 seconds. Looks like the time for our leaders to enjoy their time out front is limited!

16:13 EDT    Michael Creed (Rock Racing) and Brad Huff (Jelly Belly) go on the attack. Huff has spent quite a bit of time near the front of this break, but Creed has spent a lot of time, both before and after his flat, sitting in.

16:13 EDT    Creed's and Huff's efforts are causing massive splits in the break.

16:15 EDT    77miles/33miles to go We're at mile 77 and the break is all split up. One of its members, Lucas Euser (Garmin Chipotle) has had quite a few fans writing in to cheer him on and offer encouragement. We'll see how he comes out of the current mix-up.

16:18 EDT    Creed and Huff are joined by a third rider. Looks like Steven Cozza (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30). The rest of the remaining break riders are strung out at intervals individually behind our three leaders.

16:24 EDT    81miles/29miles to go Steven Cozza (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Lucas Euser (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), and Jonathan Garcia (BMC Racing Team) have regained contact with Michael Creed (Rock Racing) and Brad Huff (Jelly Belly). The five form the new lead group - all the rest of the leaders who got dropped in that last bit seem to have been caught by the field, which is at 1.10. It looks like Garcia must have bridged back up at some point after he was dropped on the last climb. The racers are heading out for their fourth big lap and their final trip up Paris Mountain.

16:26 EDT    The shake-up of the original break began on the third trip up Paris Mountain and finished in the technical section near the end of the third big lap - which is similar to some parts of the finishing circuit. That suggests that while the fourth trip up Paris Mountain may shake things up further, the race could still see plenty of action on the final three finishing circuits.

16:29 EDT    One of our readers has found the perfect way to stay cool while following our coverage. "We are keeping up with the race via Cyclingnews live coverage as we sit in the back of an ice truck (I'm not kidding) where its a cool 25 degrees, avoiding any sort of real work," said Scott Fulmer of FulSpeed Sports, who added a special shout out to our fearless driver Josh.

16:30 EDT    84miles/26miles to go Kyle Gritters (Health Net p/b Maxxis) abandons the race as the leaders' gap drops below the one minute mark - to 55 seconds.

16:33 EDT    Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Pro Cycling) also abandons. Meanwhile at the front, we have two of five leaders from the Garmin / Chipotle team. They are both sitting in and doing nothing. Well, change that...now they are both hammering. They must have gotten new orders from the team director. If they can win again today, that would be the second win for the weekend after Zabriske won the time trial yesterday.

16:34 EDT    Ben Jacques-Maynes will have someone to commiserate with. His team-mate Graham Howard (Bissell Pro Cycling) also abandons.

16:36 EDT    Wait more company... time to add Omer Kern (Bissell Pro Cycling) to the DNF list.

16:37 EDT    We have no word on favorites Hincapie or Vande Velde. Presumably the Tour de France veterans are sitting in the main peloton. Vande Velde will have no reason to chase with his Garmin / Chipotle team-mates off the front. However, Hincapie has no team-mates left at the front to protect.

16:37 EDT    Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly) gets some service from the mechanics.

16:39 EDT    Steven Cozza (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Brad Huff (Jelly Belly) and Michael Creed (Rock Racing) have fallen off the pace of the break on the final time up Paris mountain.

16:39 EDT    There has been a crash at the front of the field at the bottom of the climb - no word on those involved.

16:40 EDT    That leaves Lucas Euser (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) and Jonathan Garcia (BMC Racing Team) at the front alone - the last two surviving members of the break. They are working together and trading even pulls. Their gap is about one minute.

16:40 EDT    Steven Cozza (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) is caught by the field.

16:41 EDT    Brad Huff (Jelly Belly) and Michael Creed (Rock Racing) are also caught by the peloton where attacks are starting to fly.

16:42 EDT    Blake Caldwell (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) is one of the riders launching an attack at the front of the peloton. That must mean Garmin doesn't think the break will stick. And in fact, their gap is down to 20 seconds only.

16:42 EDT    Two groups of 10 form out of the peloton to chase our two leaders.

16:43 EDT    The blistering pace on this final big lap is causing carnage. The break is down to just two riders and the peloton is splintering in its efforts to chase.

16:48 EDT    90.5miles/19.5miles to go Our two leaders are over the top of Paris Mountain for the final time. They have 20 seconds on the first chase group. We're at the front, but we have word from behind that some of the favorites are in one of the main chase groups including Tyler Hamilton, Tom Danielson, George Hincapie and Andrew Bajadali. The leaders are descending off Paris Mountain.

16:50 EDT    The officials are talking about the final circuits and when they will "close the gate". It's an issue in this race as the groups split up quite a bit on the final climb and not everyone has time to regain contact with the leaders before they reach the circuits. To avoid confusion at the end, officials close the gate to the circuits after a certain point so riders don't get lapped at the end.

16:51 EDT    The various lead groups are within sight of each other now. The racers will have three finishing circuits when they return to downtown Greenville.

16:53 EDT    The finish is a little different than other years. In fact, the old finish line is more like the final corner now and racers will go an extra bit beyond, over a bridge, to the new finish line just on the other side. The race used to end with a 500m slightly uphill, but now it's more of a gentle downhill. That could favor more traditional sprinters if the peloton regroups before the end.

16:57 EDT    Our two leaders were caught on the descent from Paris Mountain. As everyone races toward town, we have a group of approximately 15 at the front now.

16:59 EDT    Our lead group includes: Jake Rytlewski (Rite Aid Pro Cycling), Jeff Louder (BMC Racing Team), Burke Swindlehurst (Bissell Pro Cycling), Chris Jones (Team Type 1), Michael Grabinger (Successfulliving.com p/b Parkpre), Kiel Reijnen (Jelly Belly) Ben Kneller (The Jittery Joe's Pro Cycling Team), Fred Rodriguez (Rock Racing), George Hincapie (Team Columbia), Andrew Bajadali (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast), Justin England (Toyota-United), Christian Vandevelde (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Danny Pate (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30).

17:00 EDT    There is a real chance we could draw a winner from this group as it includes many of the favorites.

17:04 EDT    Danny Pate (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) gives it a go with a solo effort off the front of the main lead group. He's got 10 seconds on them.

17:04 EDT    Pate did not do the time trial yesterday despite having been the U23 World Champion in the discipline. Team director Chann McRae said he was saving himself for today's road race.

17:05 EDT    Pate wasn't the only man to adopt that strategy. With the time trial just one day before the road race, only 33 men started yesterday.

17:06 EDT    Pate has 15 seconds advantage as he goes through the feed zone.

17:07 EDT    Pate gets some company in the form of Jeff Louder (BMC Racing Team). Two others are close behind the pair and likely to join up, too.

17:09 EDT    The racers are seeing three finishing circuits to go as they cross the line.

17:11 EDT    Just to clarify, it's evolving so that we have Danny Pate still out in front with Jeff Louder, but there are also three other racers with them.

17:12 EDT    The COM2 officials' car has gone off course! No wonder this is confusing - even the officials are having trouble. Fortunately, the lead moto is still with the riders.

17:14 EDT    Our five men at the front after some shuffling now include Danny Pate (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Jeff Louder (BMC Racing Team), Blake Caldwell (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Tyler Hamilton (Rock Racing) and Lucas Euser (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30).

17:15 EDT    That makes there Garmin / Chipotle riders out of five at the front.

17:15 EDT    104miles/6miles to go Chasers at 35 seconds include Tom Danielson (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30), Craig Lewis (Team Columbia), Andrew Bajadali (Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast), Burke Swindlehurst (Bissell Pro Cycling) and Chris Jones (Team Type 1)

17:17 EDT    The leaders are seeing 2km to go until the finish line, when they will see two laps to go.

17:17 EDT    Danny Pate (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) appears to be cramping. He and his cohorts in the lead group have 40 seconds over the chasers now.

17:18 EDT    The gap is holding at 40 seconds.

17:20 EDT    Two laps to go for our leaders. Jeff Louder leads the front group through the line. Blake Caldwell (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) sits on his wheel ahead of the other three.

17:21 EDT    The five chasers follow the leaders through the start finish. Then, Jared Barrilleaux (The Jittery Joe's Pro Cycling Team) leads the peloton with a slight gap, but all that is left of the peloton is about 12 riders!

17:24 EDT    The lead group of five has a minute on the peloton. They are attacking each other. Lucas Euser (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) attacks his fellow leaders.

17:24 EDT    The lead group of five is splitting up - there are a lot of accelerations and having to close gaps. Euser has 10m.

17:25 EDT    The lead group is reforming. They have one minute on the first chase and two minutes on the peloton. The Garmin riders at the front are taking turns attacking.

17:25 EDT    Here goes another... he quickly gains 5m and a Rock Racing rider comes along with him.

17:26 EDT    Blake Caldwell (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) and Tyler Hamilton (Rock Racing) are now together off the front of the lead group.

17:27 EDT    The two non-Garmin riders are working together well and trading short pulls. Will they be able to hold off the rest of the Garmin riders?

17:28 EDT    Caldwell and Hamilton have 100m on Louder and Euser. Pate has dropped of the pace of the leaders after his major effort a little while ago.

17:29 EDT    One lap to go for the leaders as they pass under the finish. Caldwell leads through the line with Hamilton behind him looking over his shoulder.

17:29 EDT    Louder and Euser are at 10 seconds. Pate is at 15 seconds.

17:31 EDT    The racers have been out there now for 4.5 hours. The rest of what's left of the peloton comes through. Many have been pulled out of concern for them getting lapped by the leaders.

17:31 EDT    There is an attack out of the chase group.

17:31 EDT    Blake Caldwell (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30) and Tyler Hamilton (Rock Racing) are still leading. The Hincapie group is at 3.00.

17:32 EDT    Caldwell is pushing the pace as they race through Cleveland Park with about a half lap to go.

17:32 EDT    Now Hamilton takes over at the front.

17:33 EDT    Louder launches an attack in an attempt to bridge up to the two leaders. No luck.

17:34 EDT    Four kilometers to go. Caldwell and Hamilton are holding their 10 second lead.

17:34 EDT    Hamilton looks over his shoulder, still leading. He's led most of this last half lap. Caldwell has no interest in leading because he has team-mates behind.

17:34 EDT    The three chasers have Caldwell and Hamilton in sight.

17:35 EDT    2km to go. Caldwell and Hamilton are still off. Hamilton stops pedalling and looks over at Caldwell and then he starts pedalling again. They are playing cat and mouse, but still have 10 seconds of advantage.

17:36 EDT    Caldwell and Hamilton have 15 seconds now. Hamilton is driving the pace, very steadily. He is occasionally looking back. Caldwell is sitting on while the other three yo-yo 15 seconds behind them.

17:36 EDT    Louder is being forced to lead the chase group. No reason for the Garmin racers to do any work to chase Caldwell.

17:36 EDT    Hamilton leads with 1km to go. Caldwell is on him.

17:37 EDT    The two leaders have 13 seconds. Louder is chasing them hard, with two Garmin riders on his wheel.

17:37 EDT    Hamilton looks over. They are in the second to last turn and he still leads.

17:37 EDT    500m to go for our lead duo.

17:37 EDT    Now Hamilton looks over on the uphill and slows down. Caldwell stays behind him.

17:38 EDT    They're using the whole road. Hamilton goes to the far right barrier.

17:38 EDT    Caldwell is still sitting on. 250m.

17:38 EDT    The sprint starts.

17:38 EDT    Caldwell leads with 50m to go.

17:38 EDT    Hamilton tries to come around.

17:39 EDT    It's a photo finish for the top two.

17:40 EDT    Officials are calling Hamilton as the unofficial winner.

17:40 EDT    Caldwell in second.

17:40 EDT    Pate wins the sprint for third ahead of Euser in fourth and Louder in fifth.

18:01 EDT    We took a look at the photo from the finish and it looks like Hamilton won by just a matter of inches.

18:02 EDT    That wraps up our live coverage for today's US pro road race championships. Thanks for joining us, and we hope you'll be back starting again tomorrow for the live coverage of the next stage of the Vuelta a Espana.

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