Levi Leipheimer Wins Tour of California Individual Time Trial
With only two stages left defending champion Leipheimer looks set to win the Tour of California for the third time.
to keep the lead until Zabriskie and Leipheimer left the start house.
But in this ‘race of truth,’ each rider alone against the clock, the competition became tougher as the race went on, with the top-three finishers ultimately cracking the 30-minute barrier.
Larsson was the first rider to break through, but that time would soon be beat by another strong rider, Zabriskie. Zabriskie, the only American to win a stage of all three Grand Tours, whipped into the finish stretch and posted a seemingly untouchable 30:48.
“The course today for me, compared to last year, was much easier,” commented Zabriskie. We had a rainy day before last year’s time trial, but today was a good day. It was the good kind of pain where you’re really enjoying it; it’s like energy, energy, energy. We had good weather, good people and good crowds. I had a good time.”
On the possibility of him winning the 2009 Tour of California, Zabriskie told Roadcycling.com that “It would take a lot of screwing up on their (Astana’s) part. With the experience that they have and the depth of the team, they know what they’re doing. Like I said, it would take a huge screw up. Tomorrow’s stage is the same as last year. It’s not crazy. It’s fairly gradual, so it’s probably going to be a field sprint. Everyone knows that stage. We did go down and checkout the last stage; it’s very challenging and things could happen. It will be interesting.”
The most anticipated rider of the day, seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong (USA) of Astana came in 14th today with a time of 31:56, which put him in sixth place overall going into tomorrow’s stage.
Leipheimer hit the tape to post an amazing time of 30:40. Despite wind, turns and hills, he had powered his bike nearly 30 mph for a half hour and crushed the competition at every time split.
“I think it gets more and more special,” added Leipheimer with regards to winning the individual time trial for the third consecutive year. “In fact, this win is the most important, the most special to me because it was so tight. There were only eight seconds separating us. Dave is the best time trialist in the world, in the history of American cycling really, and for him to show up and be in great shape and be so tight with me, it makes this the most special of three victories.”
Going into the final two stages, the Astana team will work to help Leipheimer keep the Amgen Leader Jersey and defend his title as the two-time champion of the Amgen Tour of California.
Actor Evan Handler, a cancer survivor, was on hand to present Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer jersey to George Hincapie (USA) of Team Columbia-Highroad today at the awards ceremony.
“I love nothing better than to spend a gorgeous Friday afternoon surrounded by people in better physical condition than me,” said Handler. “The Amgen Tour of California time trial in Solvang provided me with the non plus ultra of that