By Shane Stokes in Catanzaro-Lungomare, Italy
Levi Leipheimer (Astana) will head into the Giro d'Italia's fifth stage in 23rd position overall, 40 seconds back. He's relatively satisfied with his performance thus far, saying that he expects to become stronger as the race progresses.
"I feel okay, we will see," he told Cyclingnews immediately after the finish of Stage four. "I definitely need some time to...well, I am a rider who usually does well in the third week, when everybody else gets tired."
The race is a new experience for him, and he's already noticed that the pattern is quite different to events such as the Tour de France.
"It is my first Giro so I am kind of learning," he said. "It really is nervous at the end – we go pretty easy most of the day, then that climb that we had [near the end] was pretty hard. I am surprised so many riders got over it. That is because everybody is fresh.
"We went up really fast," he added. "So far, it has been pretty dangerous due to the roads, although today wasn't too bad."
The United States of America National Champion also confirmed that he is one of many riders who are unhappy with the amount of post-stage travelling. However he was diplomatic, choosing not to elaborate. "The transfers have been hard," he said. "I am not going to say much more than that, though – we are happy to be here."
Astana had just one week to prepare a squad for the Italian race and arrive at the event's start in Palermo. The squad had been left out of the event as Giro organiser RCS Sport stood with Tour de France organiser ASO in boycotting the team following a tumultuous 2007.
RCS Sport changed its stance against the team following a string of early season successes that has seen the squad take the ProTour teams ranking lead. Astana took the place of NGC Medical-OTC Industria Porte, which had originally been named to compete in the event.