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Leipheimer extends Amgen Tour lead with superb TT victory

[nid:37630]Seconds after Discovery Channel’s Levi Leipheimer hurtled across the finish line in Solvang to win Friday’s time-trial stage of the Amgen Tour of California, he repeatedly punched the air and let out a guttural scream of excitement. The thousands of fans lining the finishing straight roared their approval for his stunning performance, realizing that it virtually wraps up his overall victory in the eight-day race.

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By John Wilcockson

Leipheimer extends Amgen Tour lead with superb TT victory

Leipheimer extends Amgen Tour lead with superb TT victory

Photo:

Leipheimer putting the hammer down

Leipheimer putting the hammer down

Photo: Graham Watson

Seconds after Discovery Channel’s Levi Leipheimer hurtled across the finish line in Solvang to win Friday’s time-trial stage of the Amgen Tour of California, he repeatedly punched the air and let out a guttural scream of excitement. The thousands of fans lining the finishing straight roared their approval for his stunning performance, realizing that it virtually wraps up his overall victory in the eight-day race.

“That was one of my best time trials ever,” Leipheimer told VeloNews on his way to the podium. “It was really windy and normally that’s not my thing. But all week I’ve just been telling myself, ‘Forget about the negatives and just win.’ And it worked.”

Besides his mental imagery, several other factors contributed to Leipheimer’s 18-second stage win over runner-up Jens Voigt of CCS, who now trails the American by 21 seconds overall..

The first factor was this winter’s switch from Gerolsteiner to Discovery, which has brought the Santa Rosa, California, resident much stronger support. That strength was demonstrated Friday by his American teammates Jason McCartney and George Hincapie finishing third and fifth in the time trial, while Italian colleague Ivan Basso was in ninth.

McCartney was the top dog — until Voigt and Leipheimer threw down

Photo: Graham Watson

Another factor was having seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong cheering him on from the following car alongside team director Johan Bruyneel.

But perhaps the greatest influence on Leipheimer’s time-trial performance was his visit in November to the wind tunnel in San Diego.

“I wanted to get in there early and train in that position over the winter,” he said. “It’s quite a bit different.”

The new position is not quite as radical as that of 2006 California winner Floyd Landis. “But that’s because of the rules,” Leipheimer explained. “I can only have my bars as high as the saddle. But for me it works out perfect. It’s actually very comfortable. I can’t say why, but it’s fast. That’s what a wind tunnel’s for.”

Leipheimer added that discovering his new position was a little lucky.

“We were in the tunnel playing around and I almost left, I almost stepped off the bike to finish,” he said. “And someone suggested trying something, and it was like, ‘Wow, that’s low, that’s a low drag.’ And right from that moment my motivation has been very good.”

That motivation combined with the new position was particularly helpful on the opening half of the demanding 14.54-mile course on Friday. After two short hills leaving Solvang, a Danish-themed town 50 miles west of Santa Barbara, there was a succession of long straightaways across open fields and past vineyards featured in the movie “Sideways.” Here, battling a howling head/crosswind, Leipheimer raced with his nose nestling on his knuckles.

That low-down body position enabled the lightweight Leipheimer to stay rock solid on the road, in contrast to his ride in the 2006 Tour of California time trial at San José, when he was blown all over the road and conceded 76 seconds to Landis. Twelve months later, Leipheimer said, “I tried to stay just one with my bike, to stay as straight as possible and keep the pressure on.

“The first half of the course was either cross/head or direct head wind and it was hard mentally because I wasn’t going very fast, the speed wasn’t high. But that’s really where the time difference was made — there and on the hill.”

The official halfway time split in the town of Los Olivos confirmed Leipheimer’s feelings about his ride: He was the fastest of the 127 riders, four seconds up on second-placed Voigt. Then came the course’s main climb, about a mile long, where a huge crowd saw the race leader ride powerfully through a series of curves before sprinting over the summit in his big ring.

“I had a 54 as I wanted to keep my cadence up on the head-wind section,” Leipheimer said.

Voigt hammered it, but conceded Leipheimer was the faster man today

Voigt hammered it, but conceded Leipheimer was the faster man today

Photo: Graham Watson

While the Discovery man was flying, even clipping a bush with a shoulder on one of the turns, chief rival Voigt was starting to struggle. The 35-year-old German was going wide on the curves along Ballard Canyon Road on the return trip to Solvang, and his upper body started to rock more pronouncedly as he tried to milk every last ounce of energy from his big body.

“I don’t think I could have done any more,” said Voigt after losing an extra 14 seconds in the final seven miles. “I could have saved three, five seconds if I would have taken more risks in the corners, but not 18 seconds. He was just better than me. He beat me square and fair.

“I’m second overall, which is better than last year, so I should be happy with that. But then again, when you are just there for the win, and you miss it really close, of course you would prefer it to be the other way around.”

After watching Leipheimer finish, Voigt shook hands and congratulated the American. Leipheimer gracefully accepted the praise, saying to Voigt, “Now we’re on my turf, it’s my turn.” He was referring to last year’s Tour of Germany, where Voigt won the time trial on his home turf and won the overall, with Leipheimer in second.

As for CSC, which had five riders in the top 10 Friday, the Danish squad hasn’t conceded this race quite yet. There’s still Saturday’s 105.4-mile stage 6 from Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita, which features four stiff climbs, and Sunday’s circuit race in Long Beach.

“We’ll decide tomorrow morning or tonight in the meeting what we’re going to do,” Voigt told VeloNews on Friday night. “If we are going to turn this thing around, it’s got to be something bold, where you really go from the beginning, left, right, center, attack all over the place. It’s got to be something really hard, like unleashing hell on everybody.”

But with victory in sight, the race leader and his hard-working Discovery teammates aren’t going to concede — especially after defending the jersey all week. As Leipheimer said following his second TT victory in six days: “My major motivation today was I did not want to go to the dinner table and tell my teammates I couldn’t defend the lead after all the work they did.”

With those words, Leipheimer sounded just like Armstrong. And he wouldn’t let himself get beaten by someone like Jens Voigt, would he?

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Amgen Tour of California
Stage 5
Top 10

1. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Discovery, 29:40.44
2. Jens Voigt (G), CSC, at 0:18
3. Jason McCartney (USA), at 0:24
4. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), CSC, at 0:37
5. George Hincapie (USA), Discovery, at 0:40
6. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC, at 0:41
7. Christian Vande Velde (USA), CSC, at 0:56
8. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), CSC, at 0:59
9. Ivan Basso (I), Discovery Channel, at 1:02.57
10. Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA), Priority Health, at 1:14.17

Overall
1. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Discovery Channel, 18:21:52
2. Jens Voigt (G), CSC, at 0:21
3. Jason McCartney (USA), Discovery Channel, at 0:54
4. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC, at 1:06
5. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), CSC, at 1:20
6. Christian Vande Velde (USA), CSC, at 1:24
7. Michael Rogers (Aus), T-Mobile, at 1:34
8. Ben Day (Aus), Navigators, at 1:38
9. Franco Pellizotti (I), Liquigas, at 1:41
10. Ryder Hesjedal (Can), Health Net -Maxxis, at 1:57

Complete results

 

Photo Gallery

Results

Amgen Tour of California

Stage 5 — individual time trial

1. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Discovery Channel

2. Jens Voigt (G), CSC, 0:18

3. Jason McCartney (USA), Discovery Channel, 0:25

4. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), CSC, 0:37

5. George Hincapie (USA), Discovery Channel, 0:40

6. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC, 0:42

7. Christian Vande Velde (USA), CSC, 0:57

8. Stuart O'Grady (Aus), CSC, 1:00

9. Ivan Basso (I), Discovery Channel, 1:03

10. Benjamin Jacques-Maynes (USA), Priority Health-Bissell, 1:14

11. Michael Rogers (Aus), T-Mobile, 1:15

12. Tom Zirbel (USA), Priority Health-Bissell, 1:16

13. Franco Pellizotti (I), Liquigas, 1:18

14. Thomas Danielson (USA), Discovery Channel, 1:20

15. Thor Hushovd (Nor), Credit Agricole

16. Ben Day (Aus), Navigators Insurance

17. Ryder Hesjedal (Can), Health Net-Maxxis, 1:38

18. Dimitri Fofonov (Kaz), Credit Agricole

19. Jakob Piil (Dk), T-Mobile, 1:43

20. Cyril Lemoine (F), Credit Agricole, 1:47

21. Jurgen Van De Walle (B), Quick Step-Innergetic, 1:48

22. Manuel Quinziato (I), Liquigas, 1:51

23. Kim Kirchen (Lux), T-Mobile

24. Christopher Horner (USA), Predictor-Lotto, 1:53

25. Alan Glen Alan (NZl), Navigators Insurance, 1:54

26. Christophe Kern (F), Credit Agricole, 1:57

27. Sergey Lagutin (UZB), Navigators Insurance, 1:59

28. Bram Tankink (Nl), Quick Step-Innergetic, 2:01

29. Rory Sutherland (Aus), Health Net-Maxxis

30. Danny Pate (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 2:03

31. Christopher Baldwin (USA), Toyota United, 2:07

32. Steven Cozza (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 2:10

33. Fabian Wegmann (G), Gerolsteiner, 2:13

34. Robert Gesink (Nl), Rabobank, 2:14

35. Viktar Rapinski (Blr), Navigators Insurance, 2:15

36. Juan José Haedo (ARG), CSC, 2:17

37. Justin England (USA), Toyota United, 2:21

38. Mads Kaggestad (Nor), Credit Agricole, 2:25

39. Sven Krauss (G), Gerolsteiner, 2:28

40. Fred Rodriguez (USA), Predictor-Lotto, 2:31

41. Mathew Hayman (Aus), Rabobank, 2:35

42. Josep Jufre Pou (Sp), Predictor-Lotto, 2:37

43. Jan Grischa Jan (G), Rabobank, 2:38

44. Adam Hansen (Aus), T-Mobile, 2:39

45. Darren Lill (RSA), Navigators Insurance, 2:40

46. Peter Hatton (Aus), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

47. Anthony Colby (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

48. Jackson Stewart (USA), BMC, 2:41

49. Enrico Gasparotto (I), Liquigas, 2:43

50. Bram De Groot (Nl), Rabobank, 2:45

51. Hilton Clarke (Aus), Navigators Insurance, 2:48

52. Veleriy Kobzarenko (Ukr), Navigators Insurance

53. Christophe Laurent (F), Credit Agricole, 2:49

54. Chris Wherry (USA), Toyota United

55. Alejandro Acton (ARG), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 2:50

56. Greg Henderson (NZl), T-Mobile, 2:51

57. Thomas Peterson (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 2:54

58. Nicolar Reistad (USA), Jelly Belly, 2:56

59. Theo Eltink (Nl), Rabobank, 2:57

60. Michael Barry (Can), T-Mobile, 3:01

61. Matthew Lloyd (Aus), Predictor-Lotto, 3:02

62. Brian Vandborg (Dk), Discovery Channel

63. Timothy Johnson (USA), Health Net-Maxxis, 3:05

64. Antonio Cruz (USA), Discovery Channel, 3:08

65. Giovanni Visconti (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, 3:10

66. Philip Zajicek (USA), Navigators Insurance

67. Bernhard Kohl (A), Gerolsteiner, 3:11

68. Ivan Dominguez (CUB), Toyota United, 3:13

69. Bart Dockx (B), Predictor-Lotto, 3:18

70. Ardila Cano Mauricio Alberto (Col), Rabobank, 3:19

71. Gerald Ciolek (G), T-Mobile, 3:21

72. Brian Sheedy (USA), Priority Health-Bissell, 3:22

73. Mauro Facci (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, 3:24

74. William Frischkorn (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 3:31

75. Shawn Milne (USA), Health Net-Maxxis, 3:32

76. Jonathan Patrick Mc Carty (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 3:39

77. Paolo Bettini (I), Quick Step-Innergetic

78. Jason Donald (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 3:40

79. Ian Mckissick (USA), BMC, 3:41

80. Andrew Bajadali (USA), Jelly Belly

81. Charles Dionne (Can), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 3:46

82. Geert Verheyen (B), Quick Step-Innergetic, 3:52

83. Jeremy Powers (USA), Jelly Belly, 3:55

84. Marc Jean Marc (F), Credit Agricole

85. Russell Downing (GB), Health Net-Maxxis, 3:58

86. Sébastien Hinault (F), Credit Agricole, 3:59

87. Aaron Olsen (USA), T-Mobile, 4:01

88. Henk Vogels (Aus), Toyota United

89. Jonathan Garcia (USA), BMC, 4:03

90. Kyle Gritters (USA), Health Net-Maxxis, 4:04

91. Karsten Kroon (Nl), CSC, 4:06

92. David Vitoria (Swi), BMC, 4:07

93. Tyler Wren (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

94. Brent Bookwalter (USA), U-23 National Team, 4:11

95. Mauro Da Dalto (I), Liquigas, 4:12

96. Sean Sullivan (Aus), Toyota United, 4:14

97. Bryce Mead (USA), Jelly Belly, 4:19

98. Mario Aerts (B), Predictor-Lotto, 4:21

99. Karl Menzies (Aus), Health Net-Maxxis, 4:23

100. Alexander Candelario (USA), Jelly Belly, 4:24

101. Matteo Tosatto (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, 4:29

102. Oliver Zaugg (Swi), Gerolsteiner, 4:35

103. Robert Förster (G), Gerolsteiner, 4:36

104. Alexandre Moos (Swi), BMC, 4:37

105. Michael Rasmussen (Dk), Rabobank, 4:42

106. Edward King (USA), Priority Health-Bissell, 4:43

107. Garrett Peltonen (USA), Priority Health-Bissell, 4:50

108. Kjell Carlstrøm (FIN), Liquigas, 4:53

109. Graeme Brown (Aus), Rabobank

110. Scott Nydam (USA), BMC, 4:58

111. Taylor Tolleson (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

112. Nicolas Gates (Aus), Predictor-Lotto, 5:02

113. Nic Ingels (B), Predictor-Lotto

114. Brice Jones (USA), Jelly Belly, 5:07

115. Volker Ordowski (G), Gerolsteiner, 5:10

116. Davide Frattini (I), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

117. Caleb Manion (USA), Toyota United, 5:12

118. Kirk O'Bee (USA), Health Net-Maxxis, 5:15

119. Charly Wegelius (GB), Liquigas, 5:23

120. Brian Dziewa (USA), Jelly Belly, 5:33

121. Michael Sayers (USA), BMC, 5:36

122. Ken Hanson (USA), BMC

123. Caleb Fairly (USA), U-23 National Team, 5:40

124. Luca Paolini (I), Liquigas, 5:44

125. Michael Jones (USA), Jelly Belly, 5:46

126. Peter Wrolich (A), Gerolsteiner, 6:01

127. Lucas Euser (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 6:19

Overall

1. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Discovery Channel

2. Jens Voigt (G), CSC, 0:21

3. Jason McCartney (USA), Discovery Channel, 0:54

4. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC, 1:06

5. Stuart O'Grady (Aus), CSC, 1:20

6. Christian Vande Velde (USA), CSC, 1:24

7. Michael Rogers (Aus), T-Mobile, 1:34

8. Ben Day (Aus), Navigators Insurance, 1:38

9. Franco Pellizotti (I), Liquigas, 1:41

10. Ryder Hesjedal (Can), Health Net-Maxxis, 1:57

11. Christopher Horner (USA), Predictor-Lotto, 2:09

12. Kim Kirchen (Lux), T-Mobile, 2:16

13. Rory Sutherland (Aus), Health Net-Maxxis

14. Sergey Lagutin (UZB), Navigators Insurance, 2:19

15. Jakob Piil (Dk), T-Mobile

16. Dimitri Fofonov (Kaz), Credit Agricole, 2:21

17. Danny Pate (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 2:31

18. Christopher Baldwin (USA), Toyota United

19. Bram Tankink (Nl), Quick Step-Innergetic, 2:37

20. Alan Glen Alan (NZl), Navigators Insurance, 2:38

21. Fabian Wegmann (G), Gerolsteiner, 2:44

22. Robert Gesink (Nl), Rabobank, 2:50

23. Justin England (USA), Toyota United, 2:51

24. Mads Kaggestad (Nor), Credit Agricole, 2:54

25. Enrico Gasparotto (I), Liquigas, 3:10

26. Anthony Colby (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

27. Josep Jufre Pou (Sp), Predictor-Lotto, 3:11

28. Veleriy Kobzarenko (Ukr), Navigators Insurance

29. Bram De Groot (Nl), Rabobank, 3:19

30. Matthew Lloyd (Aus), Predictor-Lotto, 3:31

31. Theo Eltink (Nl), Rabobank, 3:35

32. Ardila Cano Mauricio Alberto (Col), Rabobank, 3:36

33. Thomas Peterson (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 3:43

34. George Hincapie (USA), Discovery Channel, 3:55

35. Bernhard Kohl (A), Gerolsteiner, 4:02

36. Ivan Basso (I), Discovery Channel, 4:26

37. Benjamin Jacques-Maynes (USA), Priority Health-Bissell, 4:28

38. Geert Verheyen (B), Quick Step-Innergetic

39. Paolo Bettini (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, 4:31

40. Oliver Zaugg (Swi), Gerolsteiner, 5:14

41. Jurgen Van De Walle (B), Quick Step-Innergetic, 5:16

42. Cyril Lemoine (F), Credit Agricole, 5:26

43. Christophe Kern (F), Credit Agricole, 5:29

44. Viktar Rapinski (Blr), Navigators Insurance, 5:54

45. Adam Hansen (Aus), T-Mobile

46. Fred Rodriguez (USA), Predictor-Lotto, 5:58

47. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), CSC, 6:00

48. Hilton Clarke (Aus), Navigators Insurance, 6:02

49. Sven Krauss (G), Gerolsteiner, 6:20

50. Darren Lill (RSA), Navigators Insurance, 6:22

51. Christophe Laurent (F), Credit Agricole

52. Jackson Stewart (USA), BMC, 6:23

53. Timothy Johnson (USA), Health Net-Maxxis, 6:26

54. Michael Barry (Can), T-Mobile, 6:41

55. Giovanni Visconti (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, 6:50

56. Mauro Facci (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, 7:01

57. Jonathan Patrick McCarty (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 7:10

58. Jason Donald (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 7:30

59. Russell Downing (GB), Health Net-Maxxis, 7:32

60. Karsten Kroon (Nl), CSC

61. David Vitoria (Swi), BMC, 7:41

62. William Frischkorn (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 7:42

63. Peter Hatton (Aus), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 7:47

64. Alexandre Moos (Swi), BMC, 8:20

65. Mario Aerts (B), Predictor-Lotto, 8:25

66. Ian Mckissick (USA), BMC, 8:33

67. Luca Paolini (I), Liquigas, 9:19

68. Andrew Bajadali (USA), Jelly Belly, 9:20

69. Lucas Euser (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 9:55

70. Steven Cozza (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 10:05

71. Aaron Olsen (USA), T-Mobile, 10:19

72. Kirk O'Bee (USA), Health Net-Maxxis, 10:20

73. Thomas Danielson (USA), Discovery Channel, 11:31

74. Thor Hushovd (Nor), Credit Agricole, 11:39

75. Manuel Quinziato (I), Liquigas, 12:09

76. Greg Henderson (NZl), T-Mobile, 13:11

77. Gerald Ciolek (G), T-Mobile, 13:59

78. Shawn Milne (USA), Health Net-Maxxis, 14:22

79. Mauro Da Dalto (I), Liquigas, 14:36

80. Kyle Gritters (USA), Health Net-Maxxis, 14:37

81. Karl Menzies (Aus), Health Net-Maxxis

82. Sébastien Hinault (F), Credit Agricole, 15:18

83. Kjell Carlstrøm Kjell (FIN), Liquigas, 15:29

84. Marc Jean Marc (F), Credit Agricole, 15:49

85. Chris Wherry (USA), Toyota United, 16:19

86. Jeremy Powers (USA), Jelly Belly, 16:30

87. Brent Bookwalter (USA), U-23 National Team, 16:57

88. Juan José Haedo (ARG), CSC, 17:30

89. Edward King (USA), Priority Health-Bissell, 17:43

90. Jan Grischa Jan (G), Rabobank, 18:00

91. Mathew Hayman (Aus), Rabobank, 18:10

92. Brian Vandborg (Dk), Discovery Channel, 18:16

93. Tom Zirbel (USA), Priority Health-Bissell, 18:24

94. Philip Zajicek (USA), Navigators Insurance, 18:30

95. Nicolar Reistad (USA), Jelly Belly, 18:32

96. Antonio Cruz (USA), Discovery Channel, 18:37

97. Bart Dockx (B), Predictor-Lotto, 18:41

98. Charly Wegelius (GB), Liquigas, 19:01

99. Matteo Tosatto (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, 19:54

100. Alexander Candelario (USA), Jelly Belly, 20:04

101. Taylor Tolleson (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 20:08

102. Graeme Brown (Aus), Rabobank, 20:13

103. Nicolas Gates (Aus), Predictor-Lotto, 20:40

104. Volker Ordowski (G), Gerolsteiner, 20:50

105. Peter Wrolich (A), Gerolsteiner, 21:52

106. Ivan Dominguez (CUB), Toyota United, 22:06

107. Nic Ingels (B), Predictor-Lotto, 22:08

108. Michael Rasmussen (Dk), Rabobank, 22:33

109. Scott Nydam (USA), BMC, 22:41

110. Tyler Wren (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 22:45

111. Jonathan Garcia (USA), BMC, 23:12

112. Henk Vogels (Aus), Toyota United, 23:26

113. Robert Förster (G), Gerolsteiner, 23:37

114. Charles Dionne (Can), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 23:51

115. Caleb Manion (USA), Toyota United, 24:06

116. Brice Jones (USA), Jelly Belly, 24:08

117. Alejandro Acton (ARG), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 25:01

118. Brian Sheedy (USA), Priority Health-Bissell, 25:03

119. Sean Sullivan (Aus), Toyota United, 25:25

120. Michael Sayers (USA), BMC, 26:29

121. Caleb Fairly (USA), U-23 National Team, 26:36

122. Garrett Peltonen (USA), Priority Health-Bissell, 27:45

123. Bryce Mead (USA), Jelly Belly, 28:41

124. Michael Jones (USA), Jelly Belly, 28:57

125. Brian Dziewa (USA), Jelly Belly, 29:09

126. Ken Hanson (USA), BMC, 29:46

127. Davide Frattini (I), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 29:51