Team Astana's Levi Leipheimer Unbeatable in Solvang Time Trial
There are still two days to go, but Levi Leipheimer has taken a serious step to his 3rd straight victory in the 2009 Amgen Tour of California. Leipheimer was impressive in stage 6, a time trial in Solvang over 24,1 km (15 miles). The yellow jersey completed the course in 00:30:41. Dave Zabriskie (Team Garmin-Slipstream) finished 2nd, 8 seconds behind Leipheimer, Gustav Larsson (Team Saxo Bank) 3rd, losing 17 seconds, and three-times world champion Michael Rogers (Team Columbia-Highroad) 4th, 22 seconds behind. For Levi Leipheimer it is his third victory in a row in the annual Solvang time trial of the Amgen Tour of California.
“I think it gets more and more special to win this race”, said a delighted Leipheimer after the finish. “This one was definitely the most special. Eight seconds; that’s nothing really. I consider Dave to be one of the best time trialists in the world, certainly one of the best time trialists in the history of American cycling. And for him to show up and be in great shape and be so tight with me, I’d say it makes this the most special of the three victories. Having won this twice before and now a third time makes me respect Lance Armstrong that much more because I don’t know how the heck he won the Tour de France seven times in a row. The amount of pressure each time that’s on your shoulders, it’s unbelievable. To have him around is all positive. The riders, the staff, are all doing their jobs above and beyond and the team runs to perfection. No one can let another down. It’s a great environment. It pushes you to be the best you can. It takes a lot of hard work but in the end it’s all worth it.”
Lance Armstrong finished 14th, 1.16 behind teammate Levi Leipheimer.
“I raced as hard as I could. I wanted to be in the top 10, top 15. So I’m not unhappy”, commented Lance Armstrong. There was no pressure for me because everything was about Levi. It’s strange, today I was not nervous at all. I’ve got nothing to worry about. I did a good test and I can’t complain.”
Armstrong added that “I’m tired. I haven’t done a time trial for a long time, so it’s a new sensation. I raced as hard as I could. I wanted to be in the top-15, so I’m not unhappy. There was no pressure because everything was about Levi. I was more interested in the split times between Levi and Zabriskie. Maybe I missed a bit on the warm-up and preparation.”
“It will probably take him a couple of time trial races and he’ll be back into it”, said Levi Leipheimer on his teammate’s performance. I can tell you in the road races he is extremely strong. He’s probably the strongest teammate I have here.”