Levi Leipheimer to compete in Tour of California after all
SANTA ROSA, May 12, 2012 (Menafn - San Jose Mercury News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Three-time winner Levi Leipheimer has decided to give it a go six weeks after breaking a leg, saying Friday he will compete in the Amgen Tour of California.
Leipheimer, 38, will be on the starting line Sunday in his hometown for a 116-mile stage around Sonoma County. The reigning Olympic bronze medalist in the time trial added he's not a favorite to win the eight-day race that ends May 20 in downtown Los Angeles.
"The thought of not starting here after working along with so many other people to make it happen just kills me," he said. "I'm relieved to say I will start the race."
Leipheimer promised he's not entering America's most prestigious cycling event for appearance sakes.
"It was important to show the team I wouldn't be a burden, a weak link," he said of his Quick-Step colleagues. "I wouldn't just roll out in Santa Rosa and do 50 kilometers of the first stage and quit."
The star cyclist has been training for only two weeks since getting hit by a car from behind in northern Spain. He plans to use the 750-mile-plus race to train for this summer's Tour de France and the London Games.
"My leg," he said. "It is a story that has been going on too long for me. Some days are better than others. The recovery is not as fast as you would hope. When you have an accident you think you buckle down and get this thing healed. It heals as fast as it wants.
"In the end a little bit of frustration and trying to
get it better and suffering and hurting and feeling sorry for myself."
But then the cyclist is reminded he's lucky to have survived the accident on a training ride and he feels motivated.
Defending champion Chris Horner of Bend, Ore., still considers Leipheimer a favorite for the tour that will travel through five Bay Area counties, including Tuesday's Stage 3 from San Jose to Livermore.
"Whatever his leg, I'm not just going to let Levi go," Horner said.
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/elliottalmond.
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