Hours after Omega-Pharma Quickstep terminated his contract over his doping admission, Leipheimer has fired back, barring anyone associated with the squad from ever riding his popular granfondo.
“They want to play hardball, then let’s play,” said Leipheimer from his home in Santa Rosa. “We had over 7500 cyclists this year and they had a fabulous time but Patrick Lefevere and those guys can forget it.”
Held annually in late September, Levi’s King Ridge Grand Fondo is the most popular granfondo in the United States. This year’s addition was attended by top pro riders such as Kristin Armstrong, Tom Danielson, Craig Lewis, Lucas Euser and others.
“I had Hollywood star Patrick Dempsey there but now there’s no chance they’ll ever get to hang with him like I do,” said Leipheimer. “I was gonna invite the Omega folks but screw them. They could be riding the wine country and coastal roads of Sonoma county but instead next year they’ll be in flat, ugly, rain-soaked Belgium.”
The US Anti-Doping Agency gave Leipheimer a six month suspension for his admissions to using performance enhancing drugs in the past, including blood transfusions as recently as 2007. Within days, his Omega Pharma Quickstep team reacted by sacking him.
“I could take the high road, maybe bar them from the Gran and Medio routes but let them join in on the 35 mile Piccolo option. But I’m in no mood to be generous,” said Leipheimer. “I told Hincapie not to let them in his GranFondo, either.”
Leipheimer is also in talks with former RadioShack teammate Chris Horner about closing his granfondo to any participation by Omega Pharma Quickstep staff and personnel. “We’re in discussions — Chris and I don’t always see eye to eye but solidarity is important,” said Leipheimer. “I’m optimistic we’ll shut the door on them.”
Reached for comment, the team board represented by Mr Bessel Kok and team manager Mr Patrick Lefevere issued a short statement to the press. “We are disappointed in Mr. Leipheimer’s actions in not letting us ride his GranFondo. We are investigating our legal options on gaining entry and will reserve further comment until then.”