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Getting our man in there

Tour of California - 2.1 USA, February 19-26, 2006

Stage 4 - February 23: Monterey to San Luis Obispo, 210.7km

Today I felt better than yesterday; my legs were a little heavy at the beginning, but most people get that five days into a race. I got myself into some of the moves - I was on the wheel a couple of times and just got myself into the move because I wanted to see how they would react and of course I like to be a part of the race. On the big climb today I jumped across to a move and sprinted for the KOM, which was ok.

Our manager, Hans Holczer, is happy with what's happened so far in this tour - winning the prologue and having the jersey for a couple of days has definitely been good for us. I don't think we're done; I think we can win another stage, and we were very aggressive today; I think we were probably the most aggressive team out there. The guys were attacking non-stop and there was never a breakaway without us in it; they did a great job, and when there was a break of about 12 riders we had David Kopp in there - Chris Horner was in there so Phonak had to chase really hard. It would've been nice for David to go all the way to the finish because he's riding very strong and would've had a good chance to win, but that's how it goes - overall, I'd say it was a pretty hard day, actually.

I'm very impressed with today's winner, Juan Jose Haedo - it was his second win of this tour, and the stage into Santa Rosa he won very easily. Today's stage was long and pretty hard, and for him to win again shows he's got a lot of potential; I wouldn't be surprised if we see him riding for a Pro Tour team next year. He seems like a really good guy too - I had the press conference in Santa Rosa with him, and he seems very humble, a nice guy.

There were a few times when the Phonak guys looked a little shaky today - there were times when Floyd only had a couple of guys around him, and although the climbs weren't that significant it turned out to be a tough day because the hills kept coming one after another. That obviously had an effect on the Phonak team, and if there was one hard climb I think they would have had some problems.

I know the main climb in tomorrow's stage well, and it's not that difficult, but seeing as we're five days into the race it's possible that it may have a bearing on the outcome of the stage. Having said that, I think tomorrow we'll go out aggressively again and try and get one of the guys in the break because I think one of these days the break is going to go to the finish - a guy like my teammate Fabian Wegmann is a rider who could stay away all day on one of these stages. Today Fabian came alive and was actually attacking by himself; he's really improved a lot since the start of this tour, and will only get better.

Anyway, let's see how tomorrow goes, and I'll talk to you all again soon.

Take care,
Levi

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After a great 2005, Levi Leipheimer is back in 2006 with his German Gerolsteiner team, and looking for even more success. A sixth place finish in the 2005 Tour de France, along with a big win in the Tour of Germany saw Leipheimer establish himself as one of the European pro peloton's main men and possibly America's number one male stage racer. With a supporting cast that includes wife Odessa and three Chihuahuas, Levi will be out to conquer more stage races in 2006, so follow Levi's progress to the Tour and beyond on Cyclingnews. Australia UK USA