Leipheimer: Arnie's a big deal

Gerolsteiner's leader at the Tour of California Levi Leipheimer couldn't have asked for a better...

Gerolsteiner's leader at the Tour of California Levi Leipheimer couldn't have asked for a better start after winning Sunday's prologue in San Francisco. In beating favourites Bobby Julich, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, David Zabriskie and Fabian Cancellara, the resident of Santa Rosa, CA, was bestowed the first yellow jersey of the tour from none other than Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, an experience he described as "really cool".

"He came behind the podium when we were waiting and had a talk with us. He knew a bit about bike racing because he went to the Tour de France a few years ago, and was talking to us about how he presented the yellow jersey to Lance [Armstrong]. I think having him present the jerseys just validates the race, and shows the impact it has on California; it's actually a big deal," wrote Leipheimer in his diary on Cyclingnews.

The 32 year-old said he was unsure which bike to use, but decided to make a last-minute decision to go with his TT bike on the short but testing 3.1 kilometre parcours. Leipheimer added the quality of competition is the best he's seen in years, and he'll spend the following stages protecting his lead. "The competition's high, but I'm confident of doing well - especially tomorrow, as we go to my home town where I hope it'll be a field sprint.

"It's most likely there'll be a field sprint; it's pretty flat, which favours that kind of finish. The following stage is kind of hilly - it has a hard climb which is a little way from the finish, so I think there'll be a small group that comes together to contest the finish. With the time trial being the next day, we're going to see what's going to happen in this race very early."

Click here to read the full diary entry.

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