RadioShack sports director Dirk Demol was a happy man at the finish of this year's Tour de Suisse. He followed Levi Leipheimer during the final time trial in Schaffhausen, confident his rider would be able to gain the two minutes he needed to beat Damiano Cunego and snatch the overall classification. He turned out to be right.
"It wasn't easy to win this Tour de Suisse," Demol said in a press release issued by the US-registered team. "But earlier in the day, I followed Nelson Oliveira who also did a great time trial (he finished fourth). As I had seen the course closely, I told Levi that I believed he could do it."
Leiphemier gained 2:03 on Cunego and so won the Tour de Suisse by just four seconds. "I really didn't know how close it was between me and Cunego," Leipheimer said. "In the last curve, I heard my sports director yell 'Sprint, Levi, sprint!' And from the sound of his voice, I understood that it was really tight."
Demol confirmed that he shouted at Leipheimer. "I almost lost my voice! Levi likes to be pushed, and it was necessary," he said.
Leipheimer added the Tour de Suisse to his impressive stage race palmarès with a consistent performance but without winning a stage. "I had some bad days, some good days, but without team RadioShack, there wouldn't have been this victory in the end," he said.
Leipheimer's RadioShack teammates protected him, but they were also able to take advantage of Lampre's teamwork, as Demol admitted. "We were lucky that Levi could save himself during the race. We have to be honest, Damiano Cunego and his teammates controlled the race. I feel sad for him because he lost the race on the last day by only some seconds, but that’s sport. Levi had the chance to win this race by doing a hard effort. He did an enormous effort; he went very deep and it worked out fine for the team but earlier this week he could count on his teammates who kept him out of the wind. This is a victory for the whole team.”
Savouring his prestigious win, Leipheimer is now looking to keep his excellent form for the Tour de France that begins on July 2. "Now it's time to recover for the start of the Tour," he said, with Demol predicting: "He will be good in France."
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