Defending champion Leipheimer in driving seat in Tour of Utah with two days left
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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Defending champion Leipheimer in driving seat in Tour of Utah with two days left

by Xylon van Eyck at 6:37 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
37 year old American looks set to win race for the second year in a row

Levi LeipheimerLevi Leipheimer (Team RadioShack) put in a major bid to win the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah when he finished second in the individual time trial, gaining enough time to storm into the race lead. The stage was won by 23 year old birthday boy Tejay van Garderen (HTC Highroad) with Leipheimer finishing in second place, ahead of van Garderen’s teammate Patrick Gretsch.

Sergio Henao (Gobernacion De Antioquia-Indeportes Antio), who will be riding for Team Sky next year and who had been leading the race since stage one, abdicated his lead to the defending champion after only managing 39th place, 1’09” behind Leipheimer.

Now Leipheimer is in the driving seat with just two days to go. He won the race last year and is aiming to do so again, both for the result itself and also as it will act as a welcome morale-booster after a tough, injury-affected Tour de France. “It’s always nice to pull on the yellow jersey. I wanted to win today but this is even better and I’m happy about that,” said Leipheimer.

The race was upgraded to UCI 2.1 status this year, which meant competition would be stiffer as ProTeams RadioShack, BMC Racing Team, Garmin Cervelo, Liquigas Connondale and HTC Highroad were allowed to take part.

“It’s even better than last year,” confirmed Leipheimer. “It’s great to be at the Tour of Utah and to see this race come of age. I went to high school here and I have a lot of fond memories of being in Utah. And it’s great to see the healthy communities that embrace this race.”

RadioShack are currently in the ideal position, as Jani Brajkovic lies second on the general classification, 27” behind teammate Leipheimer. With two stages remaining, the American team will look to repeat their Tour of California success where they also won the first two positions in the race, when Leipheimer finished behind Chris Horner.

“The next two days are going to be very difficult. I think [today] will be especially hard for our team to control but we’ll do our best and I think it will be a great race.”

Today’s stage will be undulating all day as the peloton face a tough circuit in Salt Lake City. If RadioShack manage to stay out of trouble, the final big test will come on tomorrow’s 161km stage to Snowbird where an 8-12 percent climb up Little Cottonwood Canyon to the Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort at the end of the day are sure to separate the weak from the strong.

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