By Brian Holcombe
Levi Leipheimer (Astana), who won the road race national championship on the Paris Mountain course in 2007, will not be competing in this weekend’s USA Cycling Professional National Championships in Greenville, South Carolina. Leipheimer, who suffered a fractured wrist in stage 12 at the Tour de France, will miss nationals and hopes to return to the peloton at the Tour of Missouri in September.
Leipheimer returned to training on the road two weeks ago after nearly one month of complimenting short trainer rides with pilates and a good dose of relaxation. Leipheimer, who finished third in the 2007 Tour de France, first began riding his time trial bike, which offered more comfortable positioning for his injured wrist, in early August. He just began riding his road bike last weekend and reported that he is comfortable in the traditional drop bars.
“Obviously, the first ride was horrible, but it was just better and better day-by-day,” he said. “I just got back from Lake Tahoe – I was staying up there for a few days – and I was feeling really good, actually.”
Discussing his possible return at Missouri, which begins September 7 in St. Louis, Leipheimer said, “With the last x-ray I had, especially from that, and the fact that it’s feeling better and better every day, I’m thinking that I’ll be in Missouri.”
Leipheimer will undergo a CAT scan later this week that should provide a clearer picture of how his wrist is progressing.
The presence of the three-time Tour of California champion in Missouri would provide a significant boost to the race, which was threatened with cancellation in July when Governor Jay Nixon froze funding for the race. The state tourism office stepped in within days and reallocated the funds for the race, declaring the event a top priority.
If Leipheimer is present at the start line in St. Louis, he will be among the favorites to win the stage 5 individual time trial in Sedalia.