All for Levi

Levi Leipheimer was able to get himself into the 'fight for seconds' on the last climb of today's stage, the longest of the Tour. Gerolsteiner's team captain extended his lead over seventh place, after Cadel Evans' attack with the lead group on stage 16 and subsequent move up the general classification. Leipheimer remains in sixth overall, with a 2.03 minute advantage over Alexandre Vinokourov, who leap-frogged Evans into seventh and 7.35 behind race leader Lance Armstrong.

Leipheimer finished the stage 22.28 minutes behind winner Paolo Savoldelli, with the group including Armstrong, Vinokourov, Basso and Ullrich. "That one was a damn hard stage. I had said to Levi before the stage that he had to pay attention", said Gerolsteiner DS Hans-Michael Holczer post-stage, and the American captain of the German squad did so, holding firm in his position on gc.

After 40km the first break had formed, which broke down due to constant attacks, and although the Gerolsteiner DS would've liked to see one of his men get into that group, he remained philosophical, saying, "I'm a bit disappointed about the fact that we were not in the move at the right time, but only a little. But the boys will certainly be all the stronger for it. With this heated finale, I was very glad to see the finish come. Perhaps it was was instinct, perhaps it a stroke of fate. But we were able to save, in any case, some energy for the coming days. It's now all for Levi."

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