Levi Leipheimer Wins Clasica a los Puertos; Alberto Contador Finishes Second
The Astana cycling team appears ready for the 2008 Vuelta a Espana.
Team Astana's Levi Leipheimer was the best rider in the 31st Clásica Internacional a los Puertos de Guadarrama, a preparatory race for the 2008 Tour of Spain, which starts next Saturday in Granada. Leipheimer won after a solo effort of 20 kilometers. The Olympic time-trial bronze medalist had an advantage of 41 seconds over teammate Alberto Contador.
“This is a very special victory for me”, Leipheimer said after crossing the finish line. “Today I raced for the last time in my USA national Champion kit. It's been a honor to wear the stars and stripes and win a medal for my home country, but this year I've decided to focus on the Tour of Spain, which has been a major team goal since early in the season.”
Levi Leipheimer and José Luis Rubiera were in the first breakaway of the day. On the Alto de León, Alberto Contador left the peloton and closed the leading group's two-minute advantage. In that group of eighteen riders, everybody watched Contador and aimed for his wheel. The fourth place Olympic TT finisher did not stay with the group of thirteen riders (with Leipheimer and Rubiera) and instead rejoined the chasing peloton. On the Puerto de Navacerrada, a first category climb, Contador escaped again from the main group. On the top he joined the leaders; five of who went to the finish in Guadarrama. Contador tried to escape, but was unsuccessful, however his teammate, Levi Leipheimer, rode a perfect 10 kilometer solo “time trial” and recorded his 6th victory of the season. Contador finished in 2nd place behind Leipheimer.
Though Alberto Contador did not win the race he was pleased with the day's performance. “It was nice for me to race on my training circuit in the madrilene sierra. I'm feeling good and am very happy to see that my teammates are in good condition as well. We are excited to start the last Grand Tour of the season on Saturday".
1. Levi Leipheimer; 2. Alberto Contador 0.41; 3. Diego Gallego 0.49; 4. Sergio Pardilla 0.58; 5. Inigo Landaluze 0.58; 6. Javier Moreno 1.47; 7. Oscar Pujol 1.47; 8. Enrique Salgueiro 1.52; 9. Igor Antón 2.18; 10. David Martin 2.20.
The Astana Cycling Team is expected to announce its 2008 Vuelta a Espana roster on monday.