Levi Leipheimer Reclaims Overall 2008 Vuelta a Espana Lead
After stage 8 of the 2008 Tour of Spain (Andorra – Pla de Beret), Levi Leipheimer reclaimed the overall race lead. Leipheimer is now 21 seconds ahead of teammate Alberto Contador in the overall rankings. While French rider David Moncoutié (Cofidis) enjoyed a solo success, Team Astana’s Alberto Contador led the classification battle behind. His moves dropped overall favourite Carlos Sastre of Team CSC-Saxo Bank by five seconds and helped the team get the golden jersey back. Levi Leipheimer is now 49 seconds ahead of strong Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne).
After the stage finish Leipheimer provided the following feedback.
It seemed obvious that this jersey would be for you. Did the team voluntarily give away that jersey earlier to Chavanal and Ballan?
“No, I think that Chavanel and Ballan both earned it. We didn’t contest Chavanel, but realistically I can’t beat him in the sprint. He would get the jersey, no matter what, but to make it easy we collaborated a little bit with him. It was good for us to save the team. Ballan on the other hand was really very strong yesterday. They both earned their jerseys.”
Are you still riding for Alberto Contador?
“Certainly. Alberto has an acceleration uphill like nobody else has. You can see it when he attacks. Maybe only a good Valverde can follow him then. Alberto won the 2007 Tour and the 2008 Giro and is the best climber in the world. He is the number one captain on the team. I just have to follow everyone right now as I am ahead in the classification, but in the end, Alberto will be the captain. The final climb yesterday and the final climb today were not so hard. They are not steep and that big time differences can’t be made. Although I’ve never seen the Angliru, I am convinced that the mountains in Asturias are another story… It’s a long way to go. Now we have the leader’s jersey and everybody will look to us to control. There’s a lot of work to do. “
How is for you, as a champion, to work for someone else?
“I think I’m riding well. So far, I didn’t have to make a lot of sacrifices. I wanted to be in this team. Astana Cycling Team was my choice number one. So, I am happy where I am. I don’t regret anything.”
Alberto Contador gave us the following statement.
“I am very glad that Levi captured the golden jersey again. It shows that our team is very strong. What all Astana team-mates did today was amazing. Our Kazakh sponsor deserves this all. The only thing I regret is that again the time differences are so small. They could have been more substantial if Alejandro had cooperated a bit more with Igor Antón and me. I don’t understand why he didn’t do that. Also for him it was interesting to gain more time on Carlos Sastre. The Pyrenees provoked no decision. As I already thought at the start of this race, the Asturian mountains and the time trial in the last weekend will decide who will win this Tour of Spain.”