26-Jan-2012: Today Levi Leipheimer won the individual time trial stage in the Tour de San Luis.
On the hilly, 19.5-km route, the American rider from Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team was faster than Vincenzo Nibali (Team Liquigas-Cannondale) who came in 33’’ behind him, and Stefan Schumacher (Christina Watches), who made it with a difference of 38’’. Leipheimer was literally flying on the course laid out on the outskirts of San Luis, working towards his success kilometre after kilometre, managing the race to perfection.
“I really wanted to do well today,” said Leipheimer after the arrival. “After yesterday’s stage and the recon we pulled on the route this morning I knew I could compete. I really wanted to thank the team for the faith they placed in me and the guys who are here for the fantastic job they’re doing day in and day out. I think I did the best I could. We worked well and we’re enjoying the benefits. The time trial was anything but simple. The wind was also an important factor. We had to stay concentrated, especially in the final 4 kilometres, which were absolutely gruelling.”
Victory in the time trial also took Leipheimer to first place in the general classification for the time being, where he is 53” in front of Schumacher and 55’’ ahead of Nibali. The former leader, Alberto Contador, came in 1’01” behind the rider from Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team, putting him in fourth place in the rankings at 57’’.
“Tomorrow will be a very challenging day but I have no worries” continues Leipheimer. “I feel strong and the team is highly motivated. We’ve won 3 out of 4 stages and we’re first in the classification. Up until now everything’s been going well, our balance sheets are really positive. We’ll face tomorrow’s stage with faith in our means and determination.”
Also worth mentioning is the good performance by Sylvain Chavanel, who is regaining his groove in the time trial. The Frenchman came in 4th, just 39” behind.
On the other hand, Bert Grabsch, the time trial specialist, saw his race compromised by a flat tyre at about 2 km from the arrival.
1. Levi Leipheimer 22′ 33”
2. Vincenzo Nibali at 33”
3. Stefan Schumacher 38”
4. Sylvain Chavanel 39”
1. Levi Leipheimer
2. Stefan Schumacher at 53”
3. Vincenzo Nibali 55”
4. Alberto Contador 57”
5. Sylvain Chavanel 1’20”
Photo Credit: (c)Roberto Bettini