Leipheimer beats Henao in Crested Butte.
This is starting to sound like one of those old TV shows. Levi and the Colombians. The amazing adventures of Levi Leipheimer as he battles the attacks of the bold Colombians from Utah to Colorado.
Today at the US Pro Cycling Challenge, the Radio Shack captain attacked on the final uphill finish to Mt. Crested Butte. He beat arch rival Colombian Sergio Henao (Gobernacion de Antioquia) and Leopard Trek’s Frank Schleck.
The last three kilometers pitched up like a Colorado version of this year’s stage two in the Tour de France, the Mur de Bretagne. Only it wasn’t Cadel Evans taking the victory but Leipheimer.
The victory puts him in the leader’s jersey just 11 seconds ahead of Garmin-Cervelo’s Christian Vande Velde.
“All of a sudden there were attacks,” said Leipheimer. “Andy Schleck went, Cadel Evans was up there. We brought Andy Schleck back with just one kilometer to go. At 500 meters to go Frank Schleck put in a little attack and I followed him. I looked under my arm and I saw no one on my wheel. I knew it was rather early to go but I went for it anyway and it worked out.”
“Worked out” is a nice understatement because it took plenty of work to launch that kind of attack. “I’ve never won a stage like that with an explosive effort so in my old age I guess I’m learning some new tricks,” said Leipheimer. “I’ve spent the last three weeks at altitude in Park City, Utah. I feel like I’m acclimated and ready to race hard here in Colorado.”
That’s a good thing because tomorrow is the queen stage of the US Pro Challenge. A men-spirited and high attitude day that’s exciting only if you’re a climber from COlombia. They’ll summit two 12,000ft (almost 4000 meter) peaks including Cottonwood Pass and then the final insult, the climb up Independence Pass.
Sergio Henao and the Gobernacion de Antioquia squad already have their battle plan for stage two: make everyone suffer horribly. “I expect the Colombians to be more aggressive,” said the man from Butte, Montana. “We’re not made to race that high, our bodies hate us for it. Everybody’s in for a lot of pain tomorrow.”