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Tour de France Preview: Americans to Watch

  • By Jason Sumner
  • Published Jun. 24, 2011
  • Updated Jun. 24, 2011 at 1:00 PM EDT

Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack)

Leipheimer time trialed to dramatic last-stage win of the Tour de Suisse. Photo: Graham Watson | grahamwatson.com

Talk about taking motivation from disappointment. While Leipheimer did his best to keep a stiff upper lip while finishing second to teammate Chris Horner at the Tour of California, his unwillingness to talk to reporters at the close of the critical Sierra Road stage spoke volumes about his mindset. The once proud King of California had been roundly dispatched by a teammate, and he wasn’t happy about it.

But talk of Leipheimer’s demise as a stage racer was premature. The California resident was back on top at the end of June, taking what he called the biggest win of his career — a narrow four-second triumph at the Tour of Switzerland.

Now Leipheimer faces the same dilemma as Horner: how to be a good teammate and separate oneself from those teammates early in the Tour, taking over the sole leadership role. The answer to this question for all four of the RadioShack contenders (German Andreas Kloden and Slovenian Jani Brajkovic are the other two riders in the mix) will likely come during stage 12’s 211km run from Cugnaux to the summit of the hors categorie Luz-Ardiden climb. As Leipheimer told VeloNews European correspondent Andrew Hood, the legs will decide.

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