Leipheimer philosophical as three crashes put him out of Paris-Nice contention
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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Leipheimer philosophical as three crashes put him out of Paris-Nice contention

by Ben Atkins at 2:14 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Nice, Injury
No broken bones for Omega Pharma-Quick Step captain after disastrous descent into Nice

levi leipheimerLevi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) started today’s seventh stage of Paris-Nice, between Sisteron and Nice, just ten seconds behind Team Sky’s race leader Bradley Wiggins. The American knew that, provided he could stay safe as the race crossed the mountains of the Alpes-Maritimes department, he would have a good chance of taking overall victory in Sunday’s final time trial to the Col d'Èze.

Three crashes though, with the second and third coming on the stage’s final descent, saw Leipheimer’s plans turn to dust, as he finished the stage more than six minutes behind his overall rivals; dropping the Omega Pharma-Quick Step captain from third to 39th.

“On the first crash, there was a corner with gravel and I dropped my vest into my front wheel because everybody reacted,” the American explained. “I was holding my vest but had to let go to brake and it went in the front wheel. By the time I crashed I was going slow so it was not such a big deal. I hit my wrist, which is swollen but it was OK.

“I got on my spare bike,” he added, “but I did the Col de Vence climb and wasn't feeling as good on my bike. I wanted to get back on my other bike, back on the first bike.”

While painful, it was not this first crash that caused Leipheimer the big problem; it was the second and third falls that saw his dreams of victory shattered.

“On the downhill, I was right there at the front with Bradley Wiggins and Alejandro Valverde,” he explained. “I was fine, I was paying attention, but someone from behind wasn't and they hit me hard and broke my bike at the same time as Movistar attacked.

“Stijn Vandenbergh and Kevin de Weert and Dries Devenyns and Tony Martin waited for me, but we were really close to the bunch,” Leipheimer continued. “We arrived close to the group, but in the right corner there was a motorbike protecting someone from Lampre who crashed. We couldn't avoid them. I think everyone passed except Dries and I couldn't avoid it, and I crashed into him.

“It's easy for me to say I could have done this or that tomorrow, but that's part of the race,” he added philosophically. “It was just bad luck.”

While it was a bad day for Leipheimer’s chances overall, the Omega Pharma-Quick Step team does still have French champion Sylvain Chavanel in the top ten; moving up to eighth after Leipheimer’s misfortune. In addition, the team has had a morale boosting stage victory from Tom Boonen and, with nobody suffering broken bones, directeur sportif Brian Holm can see a bright side.

“First of all you have to look at the positives,” said Holm. “The third crash downhill at 15km, that was not fun; going into something standing still you can really hurt yourself.

“I saw them hurt themselves badly, but don't think anybody broke anything,” he continued. “My first thought was 'shoot, arms and legs were broken.' Levi, he is made of chocolate. You know, third time down, to get back on your bike, you have to be very strong. I am just glad no one broke their bones.

“The team waited for Levi,” the Dane added. “Everybody waited for the captain. he goes down, everyone goes down. That's what they have to do. Sylvain was in the top nine so he did what he had to do. Stuff happens.”


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