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Nine North American riders to watch in this year’s Tour de France

  • By Ari Baquet
  • Published Jun. 27, 2012
  • Updated Jun. 29, 2012 at 10:05 AM EDT
Leipheimer looked great in Switzerland and will start fresh on Saturday. Photo: Graham Watson | www.grahamwatson.com

Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)

Santa Rosa, California
Levi Leipheimer has had an unusual — for him — buildup to this year’s Tour de France. While Leipheimer normally looks to perform in weeklong stage races throughout the year before his assault on the overall of the Tour, his preparation was interrupted when a car struck him in Spain in April. He raced the Amgen Tour of California in his return from a broken fibula, and showed solid post-injury form to finish sixth overall.

Leipheimer himself has speculated that the forced rest could allow him to arrive at the Tour fresher than in previous years. His podium finish at the Tour de Suisse, which he won last year, provided a good indication of his recovery from the accident, and Omega Pharma’s confidence in his ability to prepare for the Tour means that he will arrive in Liège as team leader with Peter Velits serving as a second GC option.

Previous Levi Leipheimer coverage >>

Leipheimer has four previous top-10 finishes in the Tour, and with Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador out of the Tour this year, he may find himself with a good shot at the top five, if not a second podium. The 101km of time trials will suit Leipheimer, who won the final TT at the Tour in 2007 when he finished third overall.

Leipheimer told VeloNews in early June that reaching the podium is “definitely possible.” He went on to say that, “You have to fight every day and be ready when the time allows you after three weeks of living on the edge.”

With world-class professionalism, fresher legs and the experience of nine previous Tour starts, Leipheimer will no doubt be ready to fight come July.

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FILED UNDER: Analysis / News / Tour de France

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