Team RadioShack likes its odds of winning a starts and stripes jersey, with the squad fielding a five-man roster at the USA Cycling Pro Championships held this weekend in Greenville, South Carolina. Levi Leipheimer is eyeing the time trial title on Saturday and his teammate Chris Horner is in good shape to contest the road title held on Sunday.
“I'd like to think I have a good shot at winning the time trial and with a team of five guys in the road race, I think RadioShack has a good shot at winning that,” Leipheimer told Cyclingnews.
RadioShack has two riders registered to start the time trial on Saturday, including Leipheimer and Matthew Busche. Leipheimer won the time trial national championships in 1999. He has a long list of strong performances in the individual event, including three time trial wins that lead to his three consecutive overall victories at the Tour of California from 2007-09. He also placed third in the time trial at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
He is one of several favourites to win the event including Taylor Phinney (Trek-Livestrong), Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies), Peter Stetina (Garmin-Transitions) and Paul Mach (Bissell). Noticeably absent from the start list is defending champion Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions), who is currently competing at the Vuelta a España.
Leipheimer is also a former road champion having won the event in 2007. He and Busche will join teammates Horner, Jason McCartney and Bjorn Selander for the road race held the following day.
Horner last competed in the USPro Road Race in 2005, when the event was held in conjunction with the Philadelphia International Cycling Championships. He placed second to race winner Chris Wherry in a three-man breakaway that also included Danny Pate.
He has never competed on the Greenville course due to scheduling conflicts with the Vuelta or injury. This year he placed top 10 in the Tour de France and is one of the favourites to win the title. He intends on putting his best foot forward to capture the stars and stripes jersey for the first time in his career.
“The form is good, so I do believe I will be there at the finish of the race with a chance to win,” Horner told Cyclingnews. “Last time I did USPro was in Philly. I’ve never been on the new course. It will take a lot of teamwork to win for sure. I'm sure the team will decide during the race who has the form to win.”
RadioShack is not the only team with strength in numbers. BMC Racing team will field a team of five riders including defending champion George Hincapie, Chad Beyer, Brent Bookwalter, Chris Butler and Jeff Louder. Other strong teams include Garmin-Transitions and domestic teams Kelly Benefit Strategies, Mountain Khakis-Jittery Joes, Bissell, Jamis-Sutter Home, UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis and Jelly Belly-Kenda.
“I think BMC and us will more than likely be racing together early on in the race then against each other near the finish,” Horner said.
Leipheimer and Horner recently competed in North America’s inaugural ProTour races, held in Quebec City and Montreal last weekend. “The ProTour races in Canada were important for our team so I wouldn't categorize them as ‘preparation’ for USPro, but they didn’t hurt, that’s for sure,” Leipheimer said.