There was plenty of cowbell in downtown Denver on Sunday afternoon as American Christian Vande Velde sprinted to the top of the podium in the 2012 U.S.A Pro Cycling Challenge.
Tens of thousands of people packed the streets of Denver to cheer the 96 remaining cyclists in the final 9.5-mile time trial of the U.S.A. Pro Cycling Challenge. With just 21 seconds and a short, solo sprint separating the top three riders and the glory atop the podium, the pros left it all on the course.
Fans waved flags and cowbells rang through the heart of Denver as the city welcomed the race and opportunity to celebrate. Vande Velde came from nine seconds behind to overtake Santa Rosa, California, resident and defending champion Levi Leipheimer for the overall victory. Vande Velde, a 36-year-old Garmin-Sharp rider from Lemont, Illinois, finished the 683-mile, seven stage race in a total time of 25 hours, 57 minutes and 34 seconds.
Boulder, Colorado, resident Tejay Van Garderen rode a fast final stage to move from third to second overall. Leipheimer fell to third place overall, 24 seconds behind Vande Velde.
Among notable riders, BMC cyclist George Hincapie crossed the finish line of his final professional race at the Pro Challenge on Sunday, ending a storied 19-year career in front of thousands of cheering fans. Here are a few photos we captured from the scene. —Sean McCoy