What's Cool In Road Cycling

Levi Leipheimer: Mini-Interview

I talked this morning with Levi Leipheimer, Rabobank’s side-lined leader and one of the new challengers from America. Levi’s recuperating at home in Spain after the Stage 1 crash that knocked him out of the race. He sounds like you’d expect if you’d trained your ass off with one goal in mind – to ride the biggest race of the year – to find only that fate has other plans for you – he’s bummed (to say the least). But he had a few things to say to Pez Readers…

Pez: How did you feel going into the Tour, what was your form like?

Levi: Very good actually, I felt good in the prologue, but definitely not my best, so getting 12th was positive because I knew that the week before is never good with all the things we have to do. I had to go to Holland, we had to go to the Tour 3 days early and spent a lot of time doing a bunch of… crap… it’s not good for you. So at the prologue I felt a little bit out of my rhythm, so 12th was a good sign. The course didn’t suit me really. Then I felt really good the first day so…

On stage 1, Levi was about 40-50 guys back in the pack when the crash occurred…

Pez: What happened in the crash?

LL: From my perspective it was so fast, guys on the road, there’s nothing you can do, all of a sudden there’s just a wall of riders in front of you and you just run right into it…

I fractured part of my pelvis, so I landed on the back side of my hip kind of on the left buttock and fractured the bone that sits on the saddle. I can hobble around with crutches, but it’s better today so it’s already getting better.”

Pez: How long till you’re back on the bike?

Levi: I would think between 2-3 weeks from the time of the accident.

Pez: You’ve probably been asked this a hundred times, but how is it watching the tour instead of being there racing?

Levi: Oh it sucks. That’s the worst part about it. I watched today, I was interested in seeing what happened. I’ll watch the mountains too because I’ve ridden all the stages and thought about it beforehand… about what would happen and to see what will happen compared to what I predicted…

Pez: What do you think are the key stages and key climbs in the mountains?

Levi: They’re all hard. Alpe d’Huez is a very difficult stage. It’s a very difficult finishing climb, it’s steep, very long. The stage starts off with a 10km climb, then you have the Telegraphe-Galibier combined, which is 35 km of climbing…so it’s a 220 km stage and you’re going to see some big time gaps at the end.

Luz Ardiden is also up there as the most difficult. It’s a long climb at the end, got a good pitch, and before that you have the Aspin and the Tourmalet which are both big climbs.

Pez: Have you been in touch with the team since you’ve been home, and how is the mood in the team now?

Levi: I’ve been speaking with them and they’ve had to change they’re focus to stage wins. I think today you could see they took the TTT less than 100%, so they’re saving themselves for Oscar to win a field sprint, or possibly Michael to win in the mountains or an opportunistic breakaway.

Pez: Had the team done some training for the TTT?

Levi: Yeah, we spent 2 days on the course in May.

Pez: What does the rest of your season look like?

Levi: Well, I’ll most likely be doing the Vuelta. But to tell you the truth I haven’t looked at it yet… it’s only been 3 days since the accident…I know that I can’t ride for at least 10 days. So I’m gonna try and take those days away from cycling.

Pez: Getting back to the Tour – who do you like for top positions?

Levi: Obviously Lance… and Beloki and Ullrich. I think Simoni’s got ahead of himself and doesn’t realize that the Giro and the Tour are two different things… he lost 3 minutes today, so…

Pez: I can tell you that we at PEZ and a lot of our readers will miss you in the race, we were looking for someone to give Lance a run for is money and make a race out of it…

Levi: I understand… but to tell you the truth I don’t think that would have happened. I was hoping just to be in the company of Beloki and Ullrich consistently everyday. But if Lance is as good as the last four years, there’s nobody that can do anything. I know it doesn’t make for exciting bike racing, but that’s the way it is…

Pez: And my final question – what do you think of PezCycling News (laughter)…

Levi: Oh, I think it’s AWESOME! I didn’t know about you guys untill we did the interview, (you can read it here) and I checked you out and was completely surprised – you’ve got a lot of content on there it’s great! Have you ever thought of doing a magazine…?

Pez: Hmm – some food for thought for sure!

Levi, thanks for talking with and all the best for a speedy recovery…

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