Not great, but not a catastrophic ITT

July 2, 2005

Hi everyone,

Although today was not an historic day for myself, it was definitely one for American cycling. Dave Zabriskie won the first stage of his first ever Tour de France, which means he's managed to win a stage in all three grand tours over the past twelve months. He's having an amazing season and I'm really happy for him.

Here's how the day went. Of course we rode in the morning and then waited around for the race. We're staying one and a half hours away from the course so we had to leave really early. I'll come back to this topic. The weather was strange today. It was really grey and the wind picked up as the day went on.

It was exceptionally windy for myself and the other riders who started late in the lineup - it went from a tail wind to a head wind. This is not to take anything away from Dave and the other guys who started earlier but it is a testimony to Lance's impressive ride. Not to mention everyone else in the top ten.

Today was proof that American cycling is definitely not dying because of Lance's retirement. Dave won, Lance was second, George was fourth, Floyd was sixth, Bobby was eleventh and I was fourteenth. Americans were well represented in the top of the results.

My ride was not great but not catastrophic. I'm only twenty seconds down from Vinokourov in third. I was feeling blocked today from tapering down all week. It's normal for me to come around as the race continues. Still, I'm usually better in the time trial so it wasn't a great ride. The way my form is now I can only get better as the race continues so it's all good.

There were quite a few riders today who probably finished a bit further down the order than they had hoped, and this is also testament to the class of Dave and Lance that they were able to finish so far out in front on a day that could've brought times closer together. It's not the time to panic, however, and like I said - my form should be on the way up, which is a good sign.

Surviving the race is only part of the challenge at a stage race. Surviving the drive back to the hotel is another story. Like I said before, our hotel is too far from the course and every minute counts in a three week race. You can't be wasting valuable recovery time with your legs crunched in a car.

The police didn't really have a good evacuation plan for us today so we had to drive on the other side of the road, really fast towards on coming traffic for a long time in order to get out of there before sundown. I couldn't even watch. It's pretty normal and sometimes it's on a winding mountain road with huge cliffs to the side.

The irony is that the teams usually end up violating every possible traffic law on the way home and yell at the cops for not getting them out of there fast enough. It's all part of the race. The tour is like a miniature travelling society which exists outside of the traffic laws of the towns it barrels through.

Well I'd better get back to that valuable recovery. I'll see you back here tomorrow.

Thanks for joining me at the tour,

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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.