Legs do the talking

July 22, 2005

Have you ever seen an accident happen before your very eyes? It's a very strange thing. Especially when you see it and you know what's going to happen but the people involved have no idea. We saw just that today but luckily everyone was fine.

We were following T Mobile who was getting escorted by a cop on a motorcycle. We were on the wrong side of the road going about 65km/h and another car pulled out from between the stopped traffic on our right. The motorcycle hit him head on and the cop flew about ten meters from his bike. It was so amazing to see him stand up and walk back to his demolished bike. He was wearing a short sleeved dress shirt and the normal French cop uniform. No leather jacket or pants. I mean, he was wearing pants but they weren't leather.

He did have a huge helmet on thankfully. We were so happy to see him stand up because it was so bad we expected the worst. The car was also badly damaged but everyone was fine. Hey, getting us to the hotel quickly is not so important if things like that can happen. I'll sit in traffic next time and won't complain.

I'll still complain about the race though...just joking. My legs would complain if they had their own voice. They would also tell you that this is by far the most difficult tour they've ever done and they would ask you why the rest of me takes them here. They would prefer the rest of me to order them a beer and tan them on a beach. Enough about my legs.

Can you tell I've been racing for eighteen weeks now. Or three. I've lost count. My brain has a question. Has the definition of the word flat changed recently? I don't see much news during the Tour but I think it must have. Have they changed the entire dictionary? Anyway today was a "flat" stage. Maybe "flat" is the new "hilly". It is in France.

Today was a "flat" stage with a couple 11 or so kilometre climbs. There were lots of attacks and at one point my bike stopped working. It wasn't shifting very well and I thought I would need a bike change. This was scary since we were going mach ten. I dropped way, way back and the peloton was about a kilometre long. Luckily my bike started working again and I didn't need the bike change. Then my only problem was getting back up to the front and I could hear in my radio that Ullrich was in a split at the front.

My teammate Georg Totschnig came all the way back to get me. He helped me move back up and it hurt. He's been helping me so much here and he won a stage. He's a great teammate. So I made it up there and managed to stay out of trouble again today. It's a relief to have made it this far. There is always the possibility of crashing at the tour.

We're in a really cool area today. Driving to the start was very scenic. It looks like highlands with huge rolling hills and big stone walls and castles. Well, my legs and brain and the rest of me will bid you farewell now so we can rest up for the time trial.

Wish us luck and thanks for reading!

July 21, 2005

Running naked

Guess what today's stage was like? You guessed it! Fast and hard. Not to mention really hot. So hot that one guy had to take all of his clothes off to cool down. Not a racer thankfully, a fan.

If you watched the coverage maybe you saw him running with us. You just never know what you're going to see at the tour. You do know that you're going to see a lot of people acting crazy on the side of the road - but naked?

The race started gradually up hill for 30 kilometres with a tailwind. It was hard. I think a lot of guys want to do something in the race now that their opportunities are getting fewer and fewer.

After about 50 kilometres a break of ten got away. Discovery rode tempo and let the break get up to 15 minutes at one point. There were two climbs at the end of the race so everyone was racing to get into position. CSC was riding hard on the front. Once we hit the climbs it just broke up into small groups.

I ended up in a group with Vino, Rasmussen and Mancebo. We dropped Mancebo and I was certain he was back with the cars when we hit the top but then he suddenly appeared out of nowhere. I don't know how he was so far back one minute and then with us the next. So I wasn't able to gain any time on him.

Everyone is scrambling now to move up in the GC, hold onto their position or get a stage win. Obviously I would like to move into fifth place. Tomorrow is another hard day. There are a couple of second and third category climbs. It's always up and down and guys will be attacking for their last chance at a stage win - we've only got the time trial and the finale in Paris after tomorrow's stage so it's getting down to the wire.

I'm looking forward to unpacking my suitcase for more than two days but the racing is nowhere near over. Stay tuned for tomorrow's stage.


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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.