Taking on the Galibier

July 13, 2005

Hi everyone,

School is still in. Yesterday professor Discovery taught a lesson on how to ride your bike like a motorcycle. Today's lesson was how to ride your bike like Valentino Rossi's motorcycle. It was fast.

Vino and Botero attacked at the bottom of the Madeleine and Discovery rode hard on the front all day after that.

I felt good but the Galibier was hard. Discovery still had five guys in a group of about sixteen which is crazy - I was hurting when Savoldelli was pulling. Discovery basically kept Vino and Botero within a safe enough distance and then really stepped on the gas over the top of the Galibier.

Over the top they had more than three minutes, and at the finish it was just over one minute. Considering we had a full-on technical descent and then false flat descending for 25km, it was scary at times. I was pedaling full the entire way just to stay on the wheel.

Did I mention that we were going fast? Riding through roundabouts was, well, let's just say exciting.

So in general, it was a good day. Tomorrow will be tough. There are five categorised climbs, but in between these climbs lie a constant supply of other climbs who don't quite make it onto the categorised list. It all adds up at the end of the day.

So I hope my motorcycle is well tuned up for tomorrow - I hope I have a motorcycle.

Thanks for coming along,


July 12, 2005

School's back in

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,

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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.