Levi Leipheimer Climbs to Victory in Stage 7 of Amgen Tour of California 2011
Team RadioShack's Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner realize the dark side of cycling is the only side many people can see these days.
use performance-enhancing drugs.
The Tour and its racers were determined to keep the focus on the biggest U.S. cycling race's charge up Mount Baldy. Tour officials required reporters to ask questions only about the race to Leipheimer, who rode with Armstrong on the U.S. Postal Service team for two years a decade ago.
Most racers seemed overwhelmed by the excitement of the hot, steep Mount Baldy climb, saying it rivals anything in the Tour de France for pure nastiness.
"I can say that I was suffering," Leipheimer said. "That last kilometer, even though I was winning, I didn't have any power. ... I was glad to see the end of it."
Thousands of fans again turned out to cheer along the riders, with no visible mention of doping or disappointment in the cycling faithful.
They even got in costume: A fan dressed as the Pope in robes and a tall hat ran alongside the riders sprinkling his version of holy water, followed closely by a Grim Reaper with a black hood and scythe. The riders also met fans dressed as a chicken, a sumo wrestler, a banana and a fried egg.