Lefevere convinced Leipheimer is on course for a strong Tour de France
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lefevere convinced Leipheimer is on course for a strong Tour de France

by VeloNation Press at 11:55 AM EST   comments
Categories: Tour de France
 
Omega Pharma Quick Step manager confirms 2012 Tour lineup, evaluates riders

Levi LeipheimerAlthough he was hit by a car and suffered a fractured fibula just two and a half months ago, Levi Leipheimer is on course for a strong Tour de France. That’s the assessment of his Omega Pharma Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere, who is confident that the American will achieve strong results in the upcoming race.

Lefevere confirmed the lineup for the 2012 Tour and in addition to Leipheimer, outlines several others who he believes can perform well for the team in July.

“We will be at the starting line with a competitive formation,” he vowed. “Leipheimer has recently shown that he is enjoying a period of crescendo [improving form – ed.] in the Tour de Suisse, as is Peter Velits. By their side on the major climbs we will see Kevin De Weert, one of the best riders in the last editions of the Grande Boucle.”

Leipheimer finished third overall in the Tour de Suisse. He didn’t equal the victory of last year, but in the context of his recent fracture, that result was more than reassuring for his new team. If he continues to gain momentum, he should be a big factor in the race.

Velits was a little more quiet in Switzerland, going clear in the breakaway on stage eight but being dropped by the eventual day’s winner, Michael Albasini (Orica GreenEdge). Given that the Slovakian finished second overall in the 2010 Vuelta a España and is, on that basis, a better climber than the Swiss, the defeat was a surprising one.

Still, Lefevere appears to believe that he will be in the right condition for the Tour, perhaps judging that assessment on his ninth place against the clock on stage seven.

However he sees other riders as the main guns for that discipline. “In the time trials we can count on Levi and the undeniable skills of Tony Martin, who will be in his element with more than 100 kilometers on the schedule,” he said, referring to the current world time trial champion. “Same goes for Bert Grabsch, a fantastic time trial performer, who, together with Stijn Vandenbergh, will be tasked with keeping the squad together on the flat stages.”

French champion Sylvain Chavanel is nominated by him as being a potential stage victor, as well as Dries Devenyns. He also emphasises the abilities of Jermoe Pineau, saying he is both a perfect team player and also a rider who plays his cards well.

Tom Boonen, the team’s best rider thus far this season, has decided not taking part in order to prepare as he sees best for the Olympic Games. In other years that would have been catastrophic for the team’s Tour de France aspirations; it’s a measure of how much the team has strengthened that Lefevere predicts a very successful race for his riders.

“Overall, the formation is well balanced,” he insists. “They will be able to stand out in the individual stages as well as in the general classification.”


Omega Pharma Quick Step for Tour de France:


Sylvain Chavanel (FRA)
Kevin De Weert (BEL)
Dries Devenyns (BEL)
Bert Grabsch (GER)
Levi Leipheimer (USA)
Tony Martin (GER)
Jerome Pineau (FRA)
Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL)
Peter Velits (SVK)

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