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School's back in

July 12, 2005

We made it to the mountains! I knew things would change a lot today in the GC but there were some surprises.

A lot of the favorites got dropped while Lance and his team put the tour back in its place - behind them. A break of seven went almost right away and at one point I think they had over ten minutes. Discovery took care of that on the final climb to Courchevel.

It's like recess is over, the teachers are back and school is in. Lesson number one - how to destroy a field of riders and take back a yellow jersey…that's what we learnt in school today.

Then there's the school of hard knocks. Popovych went to that school today. I think Johan, their director, accidentally took him out with the car. It didn't seem to hurt him at all and I heard him laughing about it in the field. Things like that are inevitable when there are so many cars, motorbikes and bikes on the road and they each have their own agenda.

The riders are cross eyed with fatigue, the motorcycles are trying to get that perfect shot and capture all the action all the time and the directors are frantically trying to take care of the cross eyed riders. It's a cluster most of the time but the one thing we have going for us is that we're all going in the same direction; quickly, which helps.

I would say that I felt good today but not exceptional. I think I rode smart. For me it's better to stay at a pace I'm comfortable with. That's what I did, and yes, it would have been nice to stay in Lance's group but that's not how it worked out.

I watched the race tonight and noticed that I was too far back so I couldn't react fast enough. Also, I had no idea how small the group was at the end when I was still in it. You can't really see the big picture when you're in the race.

Here's a funny example: Kloden rode up to Floyd today after Vino was dropped and he asked him if Vino attacked. It's his own teammate and he didn't know he was dropped. It's funny in a way but when you're suffering on a climb like that it's easy to lose touch with what's going on around you.

I have to go to one of the other guys' rooms now to wash up before bed. My shower doesn't work unless you're into rust showers. My TV doesn't work either but it's nothing like the motel. Ahh...European charm.

Good night for now,
Levi

July 10, 2005

Waiting for the real race

Hey everyone,

Another interesting day on the bike. Ullrich crashed on the first descent because it was really windy and he was riding deep rims. That sometimes happens but he went off the road and his team waited for him. He was bleeding but I don't think it was very serious. Dave Zabriskie dropped out today, probably because of his injuries but I have not spoken to him since. Last but not least the race got a new leader, Jens Voigt.

I felt really good today. I'm waiting for the real race to begin in two days from now so I'm riding on the conservative side. Today there were a few category three climbs and a category one climb but it wasn't really aggressive. Discovery was a lot stronger today but I think they will have their work cut out for them. It's probably a relief at this point in the race to let another team defend the jersey. I still think Discovery did too much work in the first week and maybe they're paying for it now.

We flew into Grenoble today after the stage. It was a good transfer and we're in a great hotel. It's a perfect situation for the rest day. We do some press tomorrow, ride, more press, hopefully lie around at some point and get massage. That's about it. I'll leave you until the day after tomorrow when I have more racing to talk about.

See you then,
Levi

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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.