The experienced American knew that yesterday's stage winner in the rain may have been hurting on another wet and cold stage. "Mancebo did a big effort yesterday, and we figured he was going to be paying for it today, so we had that to our advantage. We're bike racers, we're not machines," said Leipheimer.
He took advantage of this and put in a solid attack at the base of the Bonny Doon Road climb, and joined by Garmin-Slipstream's Thomas Peterson, the pair shared the spoils at the finish – Peterson the stage, Leipheimer the overall classification lead.
With another three tough stages before the Solvang individual time trial, Leipheimer will most likely call upon the abundant resources of his Astana squad to defend his golden jersey. Lance Armstrong and Chris Horner have already shown they're in excellent form to be assisting their leader, so work has been cut out for those with overall classification aspirations in this year's edition of America's premier race.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the fourth Tour of California.