Although they've been part of the same team in the past, 2009 should see Levi Leipheimer and Lance Armstrong actually line out in the same races together. The 34-year-old Montana rider recently spoke to Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes. In the first of this two-part interview, Leipheimer gave his reasons why he welcomes the Texan's return and talked about his assessment of the Vuelta a España. In the second part he will recap his season.
What with Lance Armstrong announcing his comeback and Alberto Contador reportedly saying that he won the Vuelta without committed support from his teammate, you might expect Levi Leipheimer to be seeking a new team for 2009. However the American welcomes news of the former and dismisses reports about the latter, stating that Contador was misquoted and that he will be staying put next season.
Talking to him, it seems that Leipheimer is happy where he is. Since moving to Discovery Channel in 2006, he has made great leaps as a rider. He's finished third in the Tour de France, won two Tours of California, scooped overall victory in the Dauphiné Libéré, placed second in the recent Vuelta a España and clocked up three Grand Tour stage wins. And even if he admits to having briefly considered finding a new team for next season, he feels that riding alongside Armstrong and Contador will help him raise his game.
"As far as my position on the team goes, I think that over the last couple of years I have had to improve my own ability," he told Cyclingnews recently. "For example, with Basso coming and Alberto emerging as one of the greatest cyclists in history, I think that all made me improve. It made me the best that I can be and I think that ultimately that is the goal.
"With Lance coming back, I think it is going to continue like that. I have had my best two years amongst these riders, like Alberto and now Lance. I just try to look at the positive side like that."
Continue to the full feature. Part two coming soon.