Three-time Amgen Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer will be joining his Omega Pharma-Quickstep team on the start line of the race which begins in his adopted hometown of Santa Rosa on Sunday, but has counted himself out of the fight for the overall classification.
Leipheimer suffered a broken fibula when he was hit by a car during training in April, and three weeks after the incident he was still not back on the bike, was having trouble putting weight on the leg and was suffering from pain in his ribs and hip.
While he returned to training in the past few weeks, his level of fitness was not quite up to the task of the most demanding edition of the Amgen Tour of California to date.
"The thought of not starting in Santa Rosa after working so hard to make it happen would just kill me," Leipheimer said at the opening press conference. "It was important that when the team got here that I could show I wouldn't be a burden or a weak link - that I wouldn't do the first stage, get 50km in and quit. That wouldn't be fair to the team."
However, having only been able to train for the past two weeks, Leipheimer admitted that it would not be in the cards for him to be competitive for the overall victory.
"We're sitting here before the race and nobody really knows, but I have to be realistic, my leg is broken. The bone was apart - you can see the X-ray - I've only been training for two weeks and it hasn't gone that great. As professional athletes we're always taught to reach for the stars and be positive and never give up. But I have to be realistic and take the pressure off myself and realize I haven't been training that much. It's taken me a lot of hard work just to be able to take the start and I don't think you should count on me for the overall."
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