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By John Wilcockson and Jamie Bate
Lance Armstrong’s recording-breaking run at the 2009 Leadville Trail 100 was fueled, in part, by a herd of stallions. But one thoroughbred was missing — Levi Leipheimer.
So, will the Californian line up this year at 10,430 feet next to the Texan?
“Yeah, definitely,” Leipheimer said this week.
Not that Leipheimer’s absence from the August race in Colorado’s high country was due to some aversion to the dirt. Who wouldn’t want to saddle up for the 100-mile epic that tops out at 12,600 feet just to quiet the trash talk from Juan Pelota?
Yep, early last summer, even before some bike race held every July in France, there was a bit of jawing between teammates Armstrong and Leipheimer about the Race Across the Sky in August, which up to that point, the boss hadn’t won.
“Levi is coming to Leadville,” Armstrong said in a June 2009 interview with VeloNews. “Levi talks more shit about Leadville than he does about the Tour. I’m like, dude, you better step off me when it comes to Leadville.”
Alas, Leipheimer broke his wrist in that little French event and was unable to add a mountain bike win to his palmarès.
Yes, you read that correctly; Leipheimer has never won a mountain bike race. So that begged the question: Has he ever actually competed in a mountain bike race?
“No,” Leipheimer offered, “I haven’t.”
Could that statement be setting up a reworked replay in the Rockies of “The Look,” when Leipheimer shoots a stare at Armstrong or Dave Wiens and then scampers up and away on the Powerline Climb? Leipheimer’s mountain bike racing revelation could well be a ruse, because it’s obvious by watching the video below that he can, indeed, rip fat tires.
The question is, will he challenge Armstrong?
“We are teammates,” Leipheimer said, “so one of us has to win.”
Ah, a diplomatic answer for sure. Any wagers on when the trash-talk tweets take off?