Leipheimer crashes out of lead but not race
Davitamon Lotto rider Axel Merckx has won stage five of the Dauphiné Libéré after a daring solo attack at the mid-point of the tough 219km stage from Vaison-la-Romaine to Grenoble. Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) lost the race lead to Iñigo Landaluze (Euskaltel-Euskadi) dropping to third overall behind Merckx.
A bad day for Leipheimer could have been a lot worse, though as the American crashed on the final descent. However Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) convinced the peloton that they should wait for Leipheimer to rejoin them before continuing the pursuit of Merckx, Landaluze and the eight other riders who had formed the early break.
Merckx said he had escaped from a group that was hesitating about pressing home its advantage because doing so would give the lead to Landaluze. "There was a bit of doubt in the group because Iñigo Landaluze was there," he said. "I only rode away from the others then. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't."
Leipheimer said the crash was his own fault. "I was riding hard and carelessly," he explained. "I should have known better. I misjudged a corner and hit the ground."
Leipheimer injuries are not serious and he is expected to start today's stage. Gerolsteiner directeur sportif Reimund Dietzen issued a statement after the stage saying, "I have just spoken with our doctor. Levi has a flesh wound to his thigh but fortunately on first investigation it does not appear t be anything serious."
After the crash, Dietzen said Leipheimer, "got up again immediately. A good sign." Dietzen added that he immediately forgot about the day's results and was more concerned with the health of his rider. "He told me it was not so bad, said Dietzen and added, "Levi will certainly continue [in the race]."