Levi Leipheimer, dropping some science on the boys from Belgium. Watch out, Patrick Lefevere, if you don’t have a cutting edge sports physiologist on staff, you better get one fast.
Perhaps the most interesting thing Leipheimer said about the move to Omega was the science. ‘With a lot of these new riders and staff coming on and bringing a new-school, scientific, stage-race program, that’s more my thing,” he said.
What he’s talking about is the kind of sports science that he had at Radio Shack in the form of Allen Lim. The brilliant guy in the plaid pork pie hat and hipster vintage Vegas wardrobe is a significant reason why at age 37 Leipheimer had one of the best seasons of his career.
Times are changing and integrated sports science is making slow but steady inroads into the euro-peloton. Still, it’s not an early adaptor atmosphere in Europe and many teams still do their training the old school way. Mentally, they’re still back in the days of Merckx.
When you talk to sports physiologists like Allen Lim, Inigo San Millan of UnitedHealthcare and Robbie Ketchell of Garmin-Cervelo, one thing they’ll tell you is they like working with American riders because of the open-ness to new ideas, the science of performance. They’re not held back by history or the time-honored approach.
Lim told us at the recent US Pro Cycling Challenge that the one rider he enjoys working with most is Leipheimer. He had a honest and revealing quote about Levi’s total commitment: “Levi is so in tune with his body and he gives such great information. He’s so disciplined, he’s so meticulous, that it’s almost tragic, right? Because it prevents him from doing all these other things that he knows will screw up his performance, like staying up late, being a regular person.”
Leipheimer won the Vail time trial by a mere 58 hundredths of a second over Garmin-Cervelo’s Christian Vande Velde. While his legs did almost all the talking, he’d be the first to tell you that Lim played a vital role in getting those hundreds. And considering the new contract, those hundredths of a second are worth a few hundred thousand.
That scientific approach to training and racing is something that Leipheimer wants to bring to Belgium. But the intriguing question in all the rumors about which riders from Radio Shack and Leopard are coming or going is what’s happening with Lim. He’s based in Boulder and doesn’t have any great desire to travel the world and be away from home for significant periods of time.
So here’s the scientific question: Will Allen Lim be joining Leipheimer in Belgium?