Cautious recovery puts focus on Missouri
Levi Leipheimer’s (Astana) dream of adding another US Pro Championship title to his palmares broke along with his wrist at the Tour de France in July. Six weeks later while his wrist has nearly recovered it hasn’t come along enough for Leipheimer to enter this weekend’s USPro Road and Time Trial Championships in Greenville, South Carolina.
“No, I’m not going. It’s too soon,” said Leipheimer. “Saturday is the time trial and Friday would be six weeks from the surgery and that’s the minimum time it takes for the bones to heal.”
The Grand Tour contender won the road race in 2007. His aim this time was to try and beat defending individual time trial champion David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) from his three year hold on the title.
“I was looking forward to Greenville,” said Leipheimer. “I was going to give the time trial a go this year. The road race is tricky to win and you’re a bit of a target so it becomes very tactical.
“I thought I’d have a better chance in the time trial because it’s more predictable,” he added. “But after I broke my wrist I realised that it wasn’t going to be possible.”
Doctors gave Leipheimer six weeks, a loose prognosis of when a healing bone might be solid enough for activity. However Leipheimer has chosen to err on the side of caution, allowing the healing process a further two weeks. He hopes to be ready for the Tour of Missouri, which begins in St. Louis on September 7.
“I’m hoping to do Missouri, I do feel like I could do well there,” said Leipheimer. “I think I can go there and be competitive, maybe not win, but the main thing is to get back to racing. Day by day it gets stronger, I have more movement and the swelling has gone down a lot. I think by another two weeks, which is Missouri, I’ll be fine and good enough race.”
Leipheimer withdrew from a fourth place position in the Tour de France following a crash during stage 12 where he broke his wrist. “They put a titanium screw in that will stay in,” said Leipheimer, who is scheduled for a follow-up CAT scan today. “I’ve ridden outside for two weeks with clip-on bars and I feel pretty good, maybe that’s compared to riding the trainer though. Today I went out and hardly used them just rode on the hoods of drops.”
While he won’t be starting the races Leipheimer gave his opinion on who would win the stars and stripes jerseys. “The TT is pretty easy. I think Zabriskie is the favorite and Zirbel will give him a run for is money,” he said. “You never know with the road race, it’s hard to pick. Garmin [Slipstream] has the most riders. George [Hincapie] will be on his own and no one will let him go anywhere. I would look for a break with some guys we don’t expect.”