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Hincapie Wins U.S. Pro Cycling

June 8, 1998

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ With a dash to the finish line on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, George Hincapie took back the U.S. professional championship jersey snatched from him a year ago because of a last-lap penalty.

``All I can say that is if anyone has anything to say, let them say it now,″ said Hincapie, 24, of Charlotte, N.C., savoring the moment Sunday.

The new professional champion takes home $30,000 for his victory in the First Union USPRO Championship, one of the richest one-day road races in the world.

Hincapie and his four teammates from the U.S. Postal Cycling team, including former world champion Lance Armstrong, controlled the last third of the 156-mile race by powering a 31-man breakaway that escaped from the field of 113 starters, building a more than three-minute gap.

The group finished the twisty course that includes 10 ascents of the brutal Manayunk hill known as ``The Wall″ in 6 hours, 6 minutes, and 25 seconds.

``Lance told me ‘We believe in you, you can win this race.’ Lance, Tyler (Hamilton) and Frankie (Andreu) really made it all possible,″ Hincapie said as he was mobbed at finish line.

Hincapie also won the Solidarity Cup, a combination of races in Poland and America. He also leads the eight-race Tour of America.

Hincapie, disqualified in 1997 because he momentarily drafted a team car in the last lap, beat a charging group of sprinters as they spread across the Parkway.

He edged second-place finisher Italian Massilimilano Mori (Saeco-Cannondale) by a wheel’s length as he took an inside sprinting line close to the announcers’ stand. Third was Tomas Konecny (ZVVZ) from the Czech Republic.

``It is a dream to win this jersey. Last year was devastating for me,″ Hincapie said.

Armstrong, coming back from a year of fighting testicular cancer, was at the front of the break-away group for most of race’s final four laps, saving Hincapie for the sprint. He finished 33rd.

``You saw him lead the climb up Manayunk,″ Hincapie said. ``There’s no doubt, Lance is back.″

In the Women’s First Union Liberty Classic, German rider Petra Rossner, 31, (Vizir/Russian National) beat Lithuanian Diana Zilute (Lithuanian National) in a crash-mired field sprint. Gabriella Pregnoloto (V.C Mimosa) of Italy was third.

Team Saturn rider Dede Demet, 26, of Boulder, Colo., who placed seventh, retained the leader’s jersey in the six-race World Cup series.

The crash, about 250 meters from the line, took down three riders: Olympic time trial champion Zulfia Zabirova (Dream Team) of Russia; sprinter Kendra Wenzel (Saeco-Timex) of McKenzie Bridge, Ore.; and Susy Pryde (Saeco-Timex) of New Zealand.

Pryde and Zabirova went to the hospital with minor injuries.

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