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Photo ©: Gerolsteiner

Clear blue water: The Levi Leipheimer diary 2005

Levi Leipheimer shot to prominence when he made the podium at the 2001 Vuelta while riding for US Postal. He spent three years at Rabobank before joining the German Gerolsteiner team for 2005, where he is one of the team's main men for stage race general classifications.

Leipheimer has twice finished in the top ten at the Tour de France, and this year will aim higher if his form allows. "We'll have to wait and see," he says. Follow Levi's progress to the Tour and beyond on Cyclingnews.

Georgia, April 22, 2005

DODGEball

Pelted by rain and pounded by hail the size of grapefruit, I felt like I was in a game of Dogdeball! There were times visibility was only 100 feet, yet the field was riding pretty hard, partly to stay warm.

Disregarding the elements the race was exciting. There was a lot of strategy today. With Landis (Phonak) in the lead, Discovery, CSC, and my Gerolsteiner team were on the offensive. Chechu (DSC), Schelek (CSC), and my teammate Sven were in a breakaway most of the race. The team was hoping Sven would stay away or force Phonak to chase to protect Floyd's lead. The plan worked, subsequently Floyd didn't have any teammates in the end. Sven did a valiant job staying away for most of the race and even finished in the top ten.

The guys contending for the GC remained in the main group the entire race. During the final climb, Azevedo (DSC) and Vande Velde (CSC) got away to chase Chechu and Sven. I made a hard effort to chase them. Once I got there nobody would work with me to get to Chechu; they just slowed down. I felt like a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest. Eventually the main group caught us with 10k to go and strangely enough Pinotti, from what seemed to be the Phonak- Saunier Duval team, was doing a lot of work to benefit Floyd. I finished in the group, now in 4th place overall with a 50 second deficit.

To Dave in NYC who personally requested that I divulge juicy information like John Leiswyn, I'll say this: Tomorrow will be a hard stage. The goal is make up some time so I have a shot at the podium. Julich and Landis are the guys to watch out for in addition to one particular rider tomorrow. I think he's on Bobby's radar too. So watch for this guy to attack, and Julich and myself to follow. Landis will have to chase to preserve his lead. Dave, I hope that's juicy enough.

In some technical news, I'd like to mention that my teammate won stage 2 on what some people would call a "comfort bike". What's interesting about his bike is that the Specialized Roubaix is more relaxed than the Tarmac I am on; the Roubaix has a longer head tube so you aren't hunched over the bike. Specialized even admits that "most riders won't be searching for UCI points on their Roubaix", but Wrolich and Scarponi won races on this frame! Nic, my wrench at Specialized, describes the Roubaix as a bike designed for the former pro who wants a comfortable race-worthy ride. Odessa, my wife, would agree. She was a pro, loves the ride and the bike addresses her back problems.

I better get some sleep for a big day tomorrow. Stay tuned to see who the mystery rider is.

Good night,
Levi

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