Just surviving

July 17, 2005

Man, today was hard - I was so wasted at the finish. It was all about survival.

At the beginning of the stage we had a climb that was around five kilometres long. It wasn't even categorised. It was more difficult than any of the small climbs we did the first week, but today it wasn't even considered a climb on the course profile. It was on a tiny little road also so it strung out the field.

The break got away early and George sat on all day. It was a great day for him. To win a stage like today's would be really amazing. After we went over a couple climbs CSC started chasing hard and they broke things up for Basso. He was really strong today and he moved up so their tactics worked.

I lost a spot in the gc which sucks, but I did what I could. The crowds were closer than I have ever seen - I thought I was going to crash, and it's difficult to see where the road is going because of the people in front of you. It's insanity on those climbs.

Today it took us just as long to descend the climb on our bikes, as it did to climb it. It was really difficult to ride through all the people. Our bus parked at the bottom of the climb and then we had a long drive to the hotel. We didn't get here until 10.30pm. So that's when we ate and got massage. I'm so tired I can hardly concentrate. I hope I'm making sense.

Tomorrow is another rest day so I will not be seeing you but the day after should be another epic tour stage. It's not tough like today but I'm sure there will be lots of action. I'll see you then.

Thanks for reading,

July 16, 2005

A really tough day

Hi guys,

I promise this will not be another hotel bashing but as I write this I am sitting in a pool of sweat. We're in a valley in a hotel with no air conditioning and we raced all day in 35+ degree weather. I can't stop sweating.

Aside from that, it was a great day for our team. Georg Totschnig, my teammate, was depressed last week because he finished seventh in the tour last year and he wanted to do at least as well this year but it wasn't working out that way. He got sick between the tour of Swiss and the tour so he wasn't feeling his best.

He wanted to go in the break today and win the stage and that's exactly what he did. It's really great when that happens. He had such an impressive ride. Discovery was not so strong, and at the bottom of the big climb is was crazy hot. T Mobile went to the front and went hard - as soon as it got steep all of the Discovery guys got caught because I guess they wanted to make sure Lance was alone. It gets rid of Ullrich's teammates as well, but at least then it's even.

As for me, it was hard but I was ok most of the time. Basso kept attacking on the climbs and I didn't want to accelerate too often so I just stayed at my pace and got back on when I could. I knew the climbs well so if I knew a flat spot was coming up I would be sure to get back on before we hit it. I lost Floyd's wheel just before the finish but I knew with about one kilometre to go it flattened out a little so I was sure to get back on by then. Sure I lost contact a few times, but it could have been much worse. Botero lost a half hour, Moreau lost something like six or eight minutes. It's easy to lose a lot of time in these tough stages.

Having said that, I need an ice bath and some sleep. Tomorrow is probably the toughest stage. I think you'll see riders arriving one by one at the finish. Wish me luck!


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Levi Leipheimer shot to prominence when he made the podium at the 2001 Vuelta while riding for US Postal. He spent three years at Rabobank before joining the German Gerolsteiner team for 2005, where he is one of the team's main men for stage race general classifications. Leipheimer has twice finished in the top ten at the Tour de France, and this year will aim higher if his form allows. "We'll have to wait and see," he says. Follow Levi's progress to the Tour and beyond on Cyclingnews.