The opening stage of the Amgen Tour of California kicked off in Levi Leipheimer's home town of Santa Rosa today, and the Omega Pharma-Quickstep captain, who was nearly not able to compete in the race because of a five-week old broken leg, made the front selection on the day's biggest climb. Despite this promising performance, Leipheimer insists he cannot win the overall classification.
"I was hurting at the end, I definitely realized I'm not going to win this race," Leipheimer said to Cyclingnews. "That dawned on me today, I was suffering on [the] Coleman Valley Road [climb]. The good news is there were only 25 riders at the top and I managed to make it."
Despite being encouraged by his form, Leipheimer said in order to win you have to start the race at 100 per cent. "And that's definitely not where I am. The goal along the way is to stay motivated and have success down the road."
Just three weeks ago Leipheimer was having trouble even walking and wasn't able to train, so for him to be at the start line was not only a huge relief for his hometown fans and the race organisation, it was a morale boost for Leipheimer. "I thought I'd be dropped on Coleman Valley, so I'm happy to be where I am."