Levi Leipheimer Interview
Roadcycling.com's Thomas A. Valentinsen talks with Levi Leipheimer about his victory in the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, about riding on US soil, his 2011 season so far, and about his ambitions for the coming seasons.
Suisse, your RadioShack Team has been rather unsuccessful in Europe in the 2011 season so far - not least as a result of the crashes that you, Andreas Klöden, Chris Horner and Janez Brajkovic suffered in the Tour de France, which - in my impression - was a race that your team had dedicated the most focus to. In the same season your team has delivered fabulous performances on US soil. How important is this success for the future of the team and might it affect how your team weighs its racing in 2012?
"We couldn't have hoped for anything better. We're very fortunate and lucky to have the victories we've had this year - we've had twice as many this year as we did last year. It really comes down to great teamwork and great sponsors. RadioShack has really been behind us the last few years and it really made a difference in our performance."
Your victory margins, however, seem to be decreasing significantly. Does this worry you when taking into account that you are getting older?
"The Tour de Suisse was one of those rare occasions when you pull it off on the last day by a couple of seconds. I can't say I clearly won that race because it was such a tight battle, as this week has been. I've had luck on my side for the last few months - with the exception of July - and luck is always involved in this sport. We work really hard 365 days a year and you have to love the hard work. You can't expect success to happen all the time, but you appreciate it when it comes. It is important to soak it all in because this feels really great. I can't imagine anything better than this right now."
What will you remember your 2011 season for? What have been the high-points and the low-points of your season and how have you coped with the disappointments?
"After the crashes and disappointment of the Tour (de France), I was able to refocus and pick out some smaller goals. I ended up using the Tour as training and in the back of my mind I already had Utah and Colorado in my mind. It couldn't have gone any better. This season is maybe my best ever, though it all went up and down. I had some illness in the beginning. I was riding second in Catalunya and I got sick and had to go to the hospital. I had to fight my way back from a pretty low point in April. But since then I've been super focused. I've been working really hard. I've had the help of my teammates and friends and family."
Taking the 2011 season into account do you still consider yourself a GC contender in the Grand Tours?
"I do believe I still have it in me to contend for a podium at a Grand Tour, I just haven't had great luck since the 2009 Giro d'Italia. I've had crashes, sickness - so many things can happen