Levi Leipheimer Takes Yellow Leader's Jersey in Tour of California
Levi Leipheimer wins stage 2; Lance Armstrong crashes.
Team Astana’s Levi Leipheimer took the overall lead in the second stage of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California. Nobody was able to answer Levi Leipheimer’s attack at the base of the final climb with 27 K (17 mi) to the finish line. Leipheimer then joined an earlier break and dropped all but Tom Peterson (Garmin). Leipheimer flew down the descent and hammered his way to the finish line in Santa Cruz. Peterson tucked in and conserved his strength for the finish while Levi Leipheimer concentrated on gaining back the 63 seconds that separated him from the leader’s jersey. Peterson took the stage with Leipheimer finishing with the gold jersey. Michael Rogers (Team Columbia) won the sprint of the chasing group of 18 riders – with four Astana Cycling Team riders - 21 seconds behind. Chris Horner finished fourth. Former GC leader, Francisco Mancebo (Rock Racing) lost 1 minute 52 seconds.
"The weather has been nasty the last couple of days and I took off all my extra clothes before the last climb,” said the two-times Tour of California winner. “Then I thought I’d better go because if not I would freeze up with no clothes and freezing rain. There were some attacks at the bottom. Popo was next to me and I said, ‘Let’s go!’ I felt great and was trying to make some friends out there but basically I couldn’t wait any longer.”
“Mancebo did a big effort yesterday and we definitely had that in mind,” continued Levi Leipheimer as he explained race tactics. "That’s the way it goes. Each day is a new bike race and that’s what’s exciting about bike racing. I feel confident that we have the best team here and we showed it yesterday. When we had to chase yesterday we just wanted to take the time back and set things up nicely for today."
Lance Armstrong suffered a crash on the day but was able to continue and seems to feel fine: "A moto photograher from the race crashed right in front of me. Unfortuate but it could have been worse. I don't feel too bad. The hip is a little banged up but overall it was a great day." Regarding teammate Levi's bold ride, Armstrong said, "Levi proved he is the best guy in the race, hands down."