After winning the Tour of Utah on Sunday, Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) is confident in his chances of securing overall victory at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge taking place August 22-28 in Colorado. The 37-year-old American will have his hands full, however, with a stronger field that includes Tour de France podium finishers Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) along with Andy and Fränk Schleck (Leopard Trek).
"Yes, I have confidence going into the USA Pro Cycling Challenge," Leipheimer said. "It is a race that I want to win and it is important to me and our team. For sure, I am going to go there to try to win. I never say I am going to win because I could end up in 50th place but I felt strong in Utah and I'm doing well at altitude so there is not reason why I can't. But, believe me there are other strong riders."
The USA Pro Cycling Challenge will include several Tour de France contenders, along side the top three riders are Tom Danielson and Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervelo), Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad), among others.
"It is not going to be my responsibility to control that race because there is going to be a much stronger field and I am going to have to ride smart and follow because they are going to be lining up," Leipheimer said. "But, I know that it is important for our sponsors and media, so it is definitely a goal for me."
Leipheimer had his hands full at the Tour of Utah, containing the aggressive riders from Gobernacion de Antioquia. The Colombia-based UCI Continental team proved to be worthy opponents with climbers Sergio Henao and Oscar Sevilla placing second and fourth, respectively, in the overall classification. In addition, the team won three stages and Cristian Montoya won the Best Young Rider and the Gobernacion de Antioquia won the team classification.
The USA Pro Cycling Challenge will host Gobernacion de Antioquia along with a second Colombia-based UCI Continental team, EPM-UNE, which is the third ranked team on the UCI America Tour calendar. Leipheimer is expecting these two teams to put forth strong performances given the high altitude and lengthy climbs, conditions the riders are accustomed to training and racing all season.
"There are going to be two Colombian teams at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and I'm counting on the Schleck brothers and riders from Garmin-Cervelo and the others to help out, to help control," Leipheimer said. "I can't imagine another team like this [Gobernacion de Antioquia], especially when we are going to be at even higher altitude."
When asked what team he will sign for during the 2012 season, Leipheimer said, "I am still working on it."