Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Tour of California - 2.1 USA, February 19-26, 2006

Time for a little vacation

Stage 7 - February 26: Redondo Beach Circuit Race, 123.1km

Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner)
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
(Click for larger image)

My morning didn't start off too well. Someone stole my laundry bag and it had my king of the mountains jersey in there and some other things. I think that's totally lame, and if it ever shows up on eBay or something, I hope somebody will report it to my Web site. I don't want someone to buy it, thinking it was me doing it and that I had it for sale.

It's good the race is over but it's also little bit sad, because it was such a nice race - great weather, great hotels, great courses.

Today in that crash, we had Sebastian Lang come down pretty hard and had to abandon. He went over his bars and smacked on his back, so he has a haematoma on his back. His bike was broken into three pieces... I was in front, but I think somebody hit a hole and lost their grip and crashed, and that just triggered a pile-up. It's not that weird seeing these sprinters take two stages apiece - when you have so many sprint finishes, the fast guys can usually win multiple stages and it's happened before, y'know.

I'm happy to see Floyd win. He's a good friend of mine and to see him win, I think it was important we had a worthy winner, because that really defines how good of a race it is; to have a well known rider win the race really helps the race and shows the calibre of the event, and Floyd definitely showed he was the best on the day that it mattered [for the overall classification].

But I definitely wanted to win the race. When I started, that was my goal and I think it's my goal for next year to win. Although I did not expect to win the prologue and wear the first golden jersey of the Amgen Tour of California and lead into my home-town; I didn't expect all that, and that is something I will always remember - that day into Santa Rosa was one of the best days of my career so far.

The spectators and scenery were also big standouts; we would be racing all-out, full blast, and there were times where you couldn't help but notice the scenery or couldn't help but notice the amount of people that had come out to support the race - it was something that really stood out and grabbed your attention.

Responding to Bobby Julich's comments about the domestic squads in today's race report, I think one of the great things about the Tour of California is that is brings a very high level of competition to the US and to some of these domestic teams. It's a great opportunity for them to improve their game and to show if they've got what it takes to move up, and in my opinion, there's really only [Juan Jose] Haedo who showed he's worthy of moving on to the ProTour. It was early in the season for those teams, and maybe they didn't expect how high the level was going to be. The riders make the race hard, for sure; the course brings out a certain type of rider, but the riders make the race.

I think it's endless how big this race can be... just the number of spectators and the popularity of this race was enormous, so I think eventually it could become a very big race. For next year, personally I would like to see a mountain top finish; I don't think the stage has to be difficult, there doesn't have to be multiple mountains in a row, but it would be nice to have a mountain top finish at the end of a long climb to balance the time trial - and maybe make the time trial a little bit shorter so the gaps aren't quite as big.

Y'know, I'm actually not too tired. I mean, I'm a little tired right now, but for me, I'm in good shape. The race has been fast, but I haven't suffered because I think I'm in good form. My wife Odessa and I are going to take a couple of days off and drive back home, make a couple of stops and make a tiny little vacation out of it. I'll probably head back to Girona in about three weeks.

Well, that's it for now - thanks a lot for reading and catch you guys later,


P.S. I also did some video diaries this week and they're going to be up on my Web site within a few days.

This online diary is brought to you courtesy of the excellent charity service for animals, www.ALegUpRescue.org.