Subpar Armstrong to work for Leipheimer in the Tour of California
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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Subpar Armstrong to work for Leipheimer in the Tour of California

by Bjorn Haake at 3:47 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of California
Leipheimer goes for four in a row

Levi Leipheimer is the big favorite for the Amgen Tour of California, which starts on Sunday. Leipheimer has won the race for the last three years and wants to add another victory, now that the race has a more prominent May slot in the international racing calendar. With Lance Armstrong - not in prime condition yet - as his super domestique, the RadioShack team is the big favorite to take the title in the Golden State.

On the Friday preceding the race, Armstrong and Leipheimer answered the most pressing questions at a press conference in Sacramento, the state's capital. The roles will be clearly defined and Leipheimer said that he got to know Armstrong over the years. "I know he's professional and I've seen him work for guys in the past," Leipheimer added. "Someone who wins the greatest race in the world knows he can't do it without the team. When you have a teammate who can win the race and he has better form, you help him. That's the way cycling works."

Leipheimer has made the race his priority. "I'm ready for the race. Like the last few years, I'm ready to win."

As in the past, the race will pass through Leipheimer's hometown. "I've always said that riding into Santa Rosa with the world's best riders in my hometown is really special. It's not something that everyone gets to experience, especially wearing the Amgen leader jersey. It's an overwhelming experience." Stage two will go from Davis to Santa Rosa, over 176km.

The race has shifted more into the main part of the season, allowing the route to be tougher. "It's taking place in May as opposed to February," Leipheimer said. "The whole feeling about it is different because it's summertime. The riders of the peloton are much fitter. We're going higher in the mountains, in Big Bear. I'm looking forward to seeing exactly what happens that day."

Super domestique Armstrong
Armstrong's highlight isn't until July, so he uses the Tour of California as preparation, but won't take it lightly. "Personally, I struggle to find the condition that I like. There have been moments I thought it was getting better. I like to think we're heading in the right direction. This is an event where you can truly test yourself. I do think it's a team sport and we bring a deep team."

The Texan added that the Tour of California is very important to RadioShack as an American Team. "It's no secret that this is a huge priority for us. I might even take it a step further by saying it's second only to the Tour de France."

The Tour de France is his big goal and he still has it in his sight. "My emotional drive is good. When you have bad days, as we all do, your drive takes a hit. If you asked what my emotional drive was after the Tour of Flanders, I would have said, 'I did a pretty good job for an old man.' I still believe that I can win the Tour de France."

Armstrong's life is hectic, with four kids (another one on the way), his Livestrong campaign, racing, training and all the travel. "One thing I've tried to do is simplify my life. At the end of it all, people ask, 'How do you do that?' It's not something that I can easily do. I've tried to cut back as much as I can, but we have 50 days until the start of Tour de France, so I can't rest too much."

With the Tour as the main goal, for Armstrong it is good to have someone else take care of the Tour of California. "For me, it's good to be back with a great group of guys. But from the team's perspective, our best chance is Levi. We're going in with the sole purpose of supporting him. But it depends on what the road dictates. I'm happy to be here as a team rider."


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