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September 04, 2007

Leipheimer rides away with US road championship

Disco sign-inLevi Leipheimer took his first US national championship on Sunday, riding away from the elite field and soloing in from 23 miles out.

Leipheimer said the win put the cherry on top of the cherry on top of the sundae that's been his 2007 season, which started with his win at the Tour of California, included road and TT stage wins at the Tour de Georgia, and a stage win and podium placing at the Tour de France, as well as wins at Paris-Nice and the Tour de Georgia and the overall Tour de France title for Leipheimer's Discovery Channel team, which is disbanding after this season.

Leipheimer and HamiltonLeipheimer has yet to announce his 2008 plans, but at 34, another go at an overall Tour de France title doesn't seem out of the question.

Leipheimer looked to be the dominant rider in the 2006 US championships, as well, but worked for hometown hero George Hincapie. This year, the two reversed places, with Hincapie covering attacks and finishing 2nd. Jittery Joe's rider Neil Shirley distanced Freddie Rodriguez in the last kilometer to take 3rd.

Leipheimer in the select groupDiscovery Channel brought twice as many riders as last year, and John Devine and Tony Cruz were at the front of the peloton for most of the day. Where the ProTour riders appeared to nail last year's pace from the start, this year, the domestic teams made early attacks, with BMC, HealthNet, Slipstream, and Successfulliving.com populating the first breakaway of 7 riders.

Leipheimer attacked on the 3rd of four long laps that included the climb of Paris Mountain. He and Chris Baldwin swept up remnants of the early break by BMC's Jackson Stewart, Slipstream's Pat McCarty, and HealthNet's Doug Ollerenshaw, with Slipstream's Ian McGregor and William Frischkorn, HealthNet's Roman Kilun, and Successfulliving.com's Daniel Ramsay close behind.

Leipheimer aloneComing to the base of Paris Mountain for the final time, Leipheimer was with a small group with a healthy but not unassailable gap. On the last climb, he changed that (from cyclingnews.com:

The rest of the remaining 30 or so riders in the race could only pick their jaws up off the ground as Levi put on a time trial clinic. “Levi was just... what can you say, he was third in the Tour and probably should have won it,” said former USPRO champ Chris Wherry (Toyota-United). “He is incredible and just rode away from everyone; there were no tactics he was just the strongest one. He went up the climb with two to go and just kept going, it was unbelievable.”

Shirley, Leipheimer, HincapieOn the one hand, Leipheimer was clearly very strong. On the other, 23 miles is a long way to cover with some of the world's best riders trying to reel you in.

But Leipheimer's gap hovered out beyond a minute all the way to the end, with Hincapie coming in at 1:11.

Neil Shirley, whipped but happyTop 10:
1) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, in 4:22:19
2) George Hincapie, Discovery Channel, at 1:11
3) Neil Shirley, Jittery Joe's, at 1:14
4) Freddie Rodriguez, Predictor-Lotto, at 1:18
5) Danny Pate, Team Slipstream-Chipotle, at 1:29
6) Shawn Milne, HealthNet-Maxxis, at 1:56
7) Kirk O'Bee, HealthNet-Maxxis, at 2:00
8) Bobby Julich, Team CSC, at 2:00
9) Christopher Jones, Nerac, at 2:00
10) Burke Swindlehurst, Toyota-United, at 2:04

Tyler Hamilton was 12th at 2:11.

Click through any photos for larger versions, or go straight to my Flickr photoset.

Also:
Complete results

My Flickr set from the road race (80 photos) | Flickr pool - if you've got pictures you want to add, let me know

cyclingnews.com | Leipheimer rides alone to national title | Photo gallery

DailyPeloton.com | 2007 USA Cycling Professional Road Race Championship | Ben Ross photo gallery

VeloNews.com | Leipheimer wins U.S. pro road crown | Casey Gibson photo gallery (by the way, here's Casey shooting the rest of us shooting the riders)

Posted by Frank Steele on September 4, 2007 in Bobby Julich, Danny Pate, Dave Zabriskie, Fred Rodriguez, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Top Stories, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink

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