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Leipheimer takes Gila time trial in record time

Levi Leipheimer (Mellow Johnny's) put on a show for the Silver City fans, breaking the previous course record on his way to winning the time trial in 32:59 minutes. Despite being held up in chase car traffic, Leipheimer's time bested second placed Tom Zirbel (Bissell) and his team-mate Lance Armstrong.

"I think I feel prepared for the Giro d'Italia," said Leipheimer, who will start the Grand Tour on May 9 in Venice. "Until I start racing with the other guys in the Giro, I won't really know. I'm just doing my best and having fun."

Leipheimer increased his overall race lead by posting a time over two minutes quicker than second placed overall Peter Stetina (Garmin-Holowekso Partners-Felt) and nearly three minutes to Chris Baldwin (Rock Racing). Lance Armstrong jumped into fourth place in the overall classification.

"The one thing that sticks out in my mind is the altitude and I have to be careful not to go over my limit," Leipheimer said. "Normally I can push it more on those rollers and recover but not today. I had to pace my self more than normal. For a moment I was a little upset because the follow car in front was braking and I was sprinting to the finish line. But there was no harm done so it's all fine."

The Tyrone Time Trial is held up as one of American bike racing's most historic events. The 29 kilometre out-and-back course is known for its massive rollers, but is perhaps more infamous for gusting cross winds that throw riders from side to side. Australian Nathan O'Neil set the previous course record with a 33:13 minutes run in 2007.

Flocks of cycling fans came out to catch a glimpse of Armstrong in action during the time trial. Competing in Silver City has been a nice change and a low key atmosphere, according to Armstrong. "It's been a long time since I've been at a race like this," Armstrong said. "I think it is good for the first race back to have less logistics and I normally don't get to take a nap after races.

"It was tough and deceivingly hard with a lot of false flats and sections with a combination of hills, the altitude and wind," added Armstrong. "I buried myself a little bit and I couldn't bring it back like I wanted to. All in all it's not too bad considering. It's a classic, old school time trial course with a hot dog turn around and everything."

Armstrong sets the record straight

Former UCI World Time Trial Champion Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo Test Team) shattered the previous course record by more than one minute as she extended her general classification lead with her second stage victory. Her blistering time of 37:36 minutes placed her ahead of United States Time Trial Champion Alison Powers (Team Type 1) while Alexis Rhodes (Webcor Builders) claimed third.

"The time trial is a race of truth and I hold this event close to my heart," said Armstrong, who joined the cycling ranks after being involved in individual sports track and field and triathlon. "Not a lot of people realise that road racing is a team sport and I always want to be the best team-mate I can be. But I'm used to being an individual and time trialling is the individual part of the sport that I can go out and give 110 percent.

"The terrain was great today," said Armstrong, regarding the lengthy rollers provided an added challenge to the 29 kilometre course. "The altitude and the wind made it really hard."

Armstrong smashed the nine-year-old course record of 39:14 minutes set by legendary French cyclist Jeanie Longo-Ciprelli. Longo's record time was briefly challenged in 2002 by French-Canadian Genevieve Jeanson's time of 38:26 minutes, but Jeanson's record stands under controversy after admitting to using performance enhancing products since the age of 15.

"I can't believe I rode that time today," Armstrong said. "To be honest with you I just can't believe it. I came here in 2006, the year I won the world championships and I rode in with 40 minutes. So I am really happy with how I did.

"I've done some different things with my time trial bike and I've learned a lot about time trialling after the Beijing Olympics because it was hilly," she added. "I think there are different ways to ride a time trial bike over the climbs to improve."

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