Levi Leipheimer's Grand Tour stocks have risen in 2005, as he joined the Gerolsteiner squad and became their GC focus for Le Grand Boucle in July. After wearing yellow and taking a third place finish at Dauphiné Libéré, Leipheimer is part of most observer's calculations for overall honours or at least a podium finish in Paris come July 24. Here Levi analyses his current situation, his team and his chances of success at the Tour de France.
CN: Levi, you have described the three years you spent at Rabobank as "good preparation" at the beginning of the season. What are the differences between previous years and now - and what makes you think you will achieve your goal of a top five (or even podium) placing this year? Will 2005 be your best year?
LL: Changing teams to Gerolsteiner was sort of a new beginning to me. I'm starting here with a clean slate, but with the experience and the knowledge I took from my three years at another top level team. I'm more confident in my abilities now because of what I've learned in my years with Rabobank. At Gerolsteiner, I have more freedom to put my experiences into practice and go my own way.
I don't know if 2005 will be my best year - yet. The team change and taking up training with Max Testa have done me a lot of good. I train much more intensively since Max advises me. Through his advice, I know exactly what I'm doing every time I go out the door - and that makes training to that intensity much easier mentally, because I don't doubt my training for a second.
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