Interview: Catching up with Levi Leipheimer

Posted on 18. Apr, 2009 by in interviews

Levi Leipheimer (Astana) commented before Friday’s Sea Otter Classic Road Race that he did not give himself much of a chance to win. “I am enjoying spring time in California. The local races are great for training. “

He then proceeded to take command of the hilly course and held off a charging Bissell team for the win. “I just tried to stay in the race as long as I could and luckily they made a couple of mistakes so I was able to capitalize on that.”

Levi Leipheimer (Astana) grabs a bottle during the Sea Otter Classic Road Race

Levi Leipheimer (Astana) grabs a bottle during the Sea Otter Classic Road Race

We caught up with him after Friday’s race, sitting in the back of his support vehicle, sharing his thoughts on a variety of issues:

Why he rides local races…like Sea Otter Classic and Copperopolis…

I wanted to keep a light spring schedule. It’s better for me…especially when I am doing the Giro and for the Tour. I want to be home. I can train a lot better at home. Obviously I came up through the ranks doing these local races and I appreciate them a lot. I know which ones are hard and which ones are great for training. They are good opportunities for me. Day to day and week after week the training schedule is the same so it’s nice to race. It’s like a free training to get out there and battle with these guys. It was tough (today).

Doing the double Giro and Tour…

I have never done a double….but why do the Giro and the Tour? There are a lot of factors like having Lance on the team. When he is around the environment on the team is very professional….not that it wasn’t there before but it is more so with him. With a 7 time Tour winner everyone wants to do their best and ride 100%. I look at the Giro and being around Lance and the team it makes me very motivated and helps me train better. Not to say that I would pass up a good result at the Giro, but I am going into it very relaxed and not expecting too much out of myself.

A concentrated Leipheimer before the start of the Tour of California TT

A concentrated Leipheimer before the start of the Tour of California TT

I hear the TT in the Giro is very technical and very hilly and will take over an hour and 20 minutes to complete…..which is something no one riding a bike has ever done. Lance has mentioned that he would not use the TT bike on this course.

I did the Vuelta last year because we did not do the Tour. We were saving everything for the Vuelta last year…the riders, the staff, everyone. If you go to the Vuelta after the biggest goal of the year, the Tour, you tend to be a little ragged. The Tour is where I give everything for either myself or my teammate. You don’t feel the same after the Tour. You are strong, but everything is just burnt out. I’d rather just look out for the Tour and look for the opportunity that I might have. Of course I am a professional and I will ride for the strongest guy.

Lance racing the Tour…

I do have my doubts about Lance racing the Tour. I did talk to him about it. It was right after it came out. I don’t think he knows anymore than you do. It was hard to read about it. The riders, and the team and the UCI, everyone needs to show their support. We need common sense because this is ridiculous. He was given permission by the tester to take a shower. There is a box to make comments and they both agreed not to make any comments. In my opinion it’s a done deal.

Who will be the Tour leader…

Johan (Bruyneel) is in charge. We go to the Prologue and everyone does their best Prologue. You can see a little picture from there. Then there is a team time trial. We are definitely not going to take responsibility of the race on day one. We can let the race sort our team out. You can see that this year’s Tour is all about the end. It will be clear by Ventoux.

Astana’s financial stability…

A team like ours is so high profile. When the payment is two weeks late it’s big news. I am not worried right now. It’s something that can happen….but if I am not paid for two months then we’ll talk.

Tyler Hamilton’s retirement…

Tyler and I were on the same team but we did not have the chance to race together. It is really sad. I hope Tyler has his friends and family around him. I think it’s a hard time for him. From what I read it was an anti-depressant. He knew about it and didn’t care. That is not a good thing. I think he needs support right now. I really hope he has that. It is a bad situation.

Public and press have noticed a difference…

Levi Leipheimer (Astana)  leading the chase to the break

Levi Leipheimer (Astana) leading the chase to the break

Just the fact that I have won a lot of races in the last three years and the press has seen more of me and you get to know me better. I think it’s hard to get to know someone after a couple of interviews because it’s a different environment. When you are asked questions and you have to think of a good answer. Maybe I am more comfortable now. I have won a lot of races and that has been fun. It’s also fun to ride with a group of winners like Johan, Lance and Alberto (Contador). There is a lot of responsibility and pressure but as long as you are winning and getting good results it’s fun

Difference between riding for Astana and Gerolsteiner/Rabobank…

I don’t know baseball very well but it may be like moving up to the New York Yankees from the Chicago Cubs.

Not to point the finger at the other teams, because it’s also me, but there just was not much knowledge there. Now I feel I am on the perfect team for me. I have honed my craft and moved up to a team that can utilize it more. It’s really is fun to be with a group of winners. Johan, Dirk (Demol), Alberto and Lance are great. Andreas (Kloden) is also great. When he was T-Mobile I always had this image of him because we see him in the race but rarely got to talk to him….I always thought that he was a grumpy jerk (laughing) but now that I know him he is like my best friend on Astana….he is a great guy.

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6 Responses to “Interview: Catching up with Levi Leipheimer”

  1. betsy baker

    19. Apr, 2009

    Excellent questions and it appear that maybe Levi is relaxing a bit with age. He has certainly come across as more approachable and friendly.

    Now where are the photos?

  2. betsy baker

    19. Apr, 2009

    Nevermind, they showed up although certainly Lyne took one of you talking with LL?!?! That is the one I am looking for.

  3. Podium Cafe

    19. Apr, 2009

    Good stuff! Though Levi is wrong in one respect, where he says nobody has ever clocked over 1.20 in a time trial. I know from personal experience that’s not true!

  4. Name Fred Marx

    19. Apr, 2009

    Great shot at the top. You keep producing those. I’m gonna have to up my game. A good interview all around.

  5. Nikki

    20. Apr, 2009

    Great interview Steph! Love the casual talk. Of course Lyne’s great pics add great flair! Great job ladies!

  6. Gavia

    20. Apr, 2009

    Nice work girlz! And lovely photos :-)