Leipheimer Wins 2008 Vuelta Time Trial
On what proved to be a truly great day for pro cycling Levi Leipheimer won the 2008 Vuelta a Espana's stage 5 individual time trial in Ciudad Real (42.4 Kilometers/26.4 mi) and captured the race’s golden leader’s jersey, the first Grand Tour leader’s jersey of Leipheimer's career. Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) finished second, 12 seconds behind and Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) third, 33 seconds behind the stage winner. Leipheimer’s teammate Alberto Contador also had a successful time-trial, finishing in fourth place and beating GC contender and 2008 Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre. The win is Leipheimer’s seventh victory in 2008 and thirtieth for Team Astana.
Leipheimer, who finished third overall in the 2001 Tour of Spain is pleased with his recent success. “I’ve been feeling very strong for the last couple of weeks, since the Olympics of course”, commented the winner after the stage finish. “ We did a race in Madrid, which I won. The first days of the Vuelta I felt really good and I had a lot of confidence going into today. However, it was very difficult today. The first 20 kilometers had a headwind, but I conserved enough energy, allowing me to go faster in the end. This is another big highlight for me and this team. It’s always an honor to win a stage in a Grand Tour plus wear the leader’s jersey.”
Though Levi is now golden, he recognizes that his teammate Alberto Contador remains the leader of Team Astana, “In this Vuelta we have many mountains to come. Personally, I believe Alberto is the best climber in the world. He has something that nobody else has - He can accelerate in the mountains. He can follow the best riders and I think Alberto will continue to get better as the Vuelta continues. He hasn’t raced much since the Giro, but he is the leader of the team. He has won the Tour and the Giro and we are now all here to help him win the Vuelta. For me, I won a stage, I wear the leader’s jersey ... It’s very nice for me, but I think Alberto is the strongest rider on this team.”
With his fourth place finish, Alberto Contador moved into fifth place in the overall rankings and is happy with the day’s performance despite his left knee hematoma, which did not bother him much. “I rode a regular time trial. I could manage my output as I had the split times of Levi. In the end I lost some time, but I am happy with my position in the GC and more importantly feeling well.”
Contador is very happy for Levi, who helped Contador win the 2007 Tour de France and 2008 Giro d’Italia. "Levi deserved this victory and I congratulate him. This only strengthens the options for Team Astana, because it is always better to have two candidates (for the overall victory) than one.”