Levi Leipheimer’s fourth on stage 5 of Paris-Nice keeps him in the hunt for overall honours in the 'race to the sun', but the American says that with the strength Sky showed today it may be an impossible task unseating current leader Bradley Wiggins.
"I have to say that Team Sky did a great job on the climb to Mende," said Leipheimer. "Richie Porte made a really hard rhythm until the last kilometer and then Wiggins took things into his own hands – they were impressive."
Showing their strength of numbers, Sky also placed Rigoberto Uran in the front group, which had whittled down to less than 10 riders by the time Porte swung off. Despite being well-supported to the base of the climb however, Leipheimer was left to fight it out alone, and ultimately conceded some time to Wiggins through the time bonification on offer.
He now sits 10 seconds behind the British champion with stage 8’s uphill time trial in Nice now the only real opportunity for him to claw back time. Nonetheless, the Omega Pharma-Quickstep rider remains confident in his own chances ahead of the final test, maintaining he intends to fight it out to the finish against the widely fancied Wiggins.
"As far as I'm concerned, I think I did a good race today and I'm always in the fight for the win," said Leipheimer. "If nothing strange happens in the next two stages, the race will be decided in the last time trial. It will be important to be there on Sunday fresh and ready to fight."
Teammate Sylvain Chavanel also had a good ride and now sits 9th on GC. The Frenchman has been suffering from bronchitis all week but has committed to helping Leipheimer in any way he can before the race finishes in Nice on Sunday.