Leipheimer: “This race was fantastic – I love this sport”
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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Leipheimer: “This race was fantastic – I love this sport”

by Kyle Moore at 9:43 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
USA Pro Challenge: Radioshack-Nissan best team again, Voigt nabs mountains jersey

Levi LeipheimerLevi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) entered the final stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge as the yellow jersey holder, and the American veteran was hoping to add victory in 2012 to his triumph in the first edition of the race last year. But Leipheimer lost the lead to Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) in the final time trial around Denver on Sunday, after Vande Velde gained 33 seconds on Leipheimer when he only needed ten to take victory.

After winning the stage races in Utah and Colorado last season, the American on the Belgian team was unable to carry a similar dominant form into late August this time around. He lost out to Johann Tschopp in Utah earlier in the month, before conceding to Vande Velde and Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) on Sunday in Colorado. Leipheimer’s ninth place finish in the time trial dropped him from first to third, 24 seconds behind Vande Velde.

Leipheimer was behind early in the 15km test and continued to lose time throughout. He had a nervous moment on a bend when he wobbled through a chain problem, which didn’t prove as costly as it could have. The American was diplomatic after the stage in explaining what happened.

“I actually felt good and my legs were good,” Leipheimer stated. “I dropped my chain there on the corner and had a moment of panic. I thought it had come off for sure, maybe jammed. But it miraculously came back on. I don't think I lost much time there. I got down to a really good climbing weight for this race, but when it comes to a 15 kilometer flat race out on city streets, with a lot of corners, I just don't have it compared to going up Flagstaff Hill [on stage six]. But it is what it is.”

Leipheimer said he drew inspiration from the throngs of fans that turned out, but indicated that he had gone especially deep to gain time on the uphill finale of stage six, an effort he may have paid for on Sunday.

“I gave it my all to stand on the podium. [Saturday] I wore my heart on my sleeve those last three and a half kilometers. I pushed myself pretty hard, and I was actually out of breath for 10 minutes.

“It was the result of the crowd, the positive energy of people who love this sport,” Leipheimer lauded. “They spent hours on the roadside to watch us come by for one second. It's hard to describe what it's like to fly up that climb on Flagstaff with thousands of people there. Every moment you are pedaling, people are just erupting next to you. This race was fantastic. I love this sport. This is why I do it. I can't get enough of it. I'm happy to be on the podium. It is hard when you have the number one on your jersey. I'm proud of this result.”

Radioshack-Nissan completes a successful USA Pro campaign

Jens VoigtAfter taking team classification wins a number of times throughout the summer, but not always appearing as a cohesive unit, Radioshack-Nissan picked up another solid team award in Colorado. The squad packed the top of the standings, with Andreas Kloden fourth, Jakob Fuglsang sixth, and Matthew Busche eighth. Chris Horner finished 13th and George Bennett rounded out the top 25 after an aggressive week.

After taking criticism earlier in the week from BMC Racing management, the team won stage four with Jens Voigt and rode aggressively after.

“This was a good week for us,” team director Alain Gallopin said on the team website. “The team was always present, so while we weren’t good for the overall [win], we are still happy with our result. We tried to get on the podium and just missed with Andreas in fourth but I hope our sponsors are happy. We tried to show our value all week, especially the stage that Jens did into Beaver Creek. For being a non-American, he is one of the most popular riders in the race. Everywhere we went we saw signs for him and heard people yelling ‘Jens! Jens! Jens!’ It was unbelievable.”

Voigt took the mountains jersey for good after Saturday’s stage, and showed it off nicely in the Denver time trial by taking eleventh.

“I am pretty happy with my performance today after a long, hard week of racing,” Voigt added. “I did work a lot here and it’s satisfying for me and the team. I hope I can come back here again next year. We need to come here early, get used to the altitude, get over jet lag, then be a bit conservative in the first two stages and go for the GC.”

Leipheimer won the race last year wearing the colours of Radioshack. Though it missed the podium this year, the squad took the team classification by 2’58” over Garmin-Sharp.


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