Levi Leipheimer, one of three US cyclists with a shot at winning next year's Tour de France, is taking it easy in the off-season at his home in Santa Rosa.
The soft-spoken 32-year-old told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that he's been mountain biking Annadel and Spring Lake with his cycling mates this fall, but last week started riding his racing bike. (Last year he rode the Specialized Tarmac SL.)
The Gerolsteiner rider finished 6th in this year's Tour de France and pulled an upset victory over Jan Ullrich at the Tour of Germany. Along with George Hincapie (Discovery) and Floyd Landis (Phonak), he's mentioned as a real contender to win the 2006 Tour de France. (All three have been teammates of 7-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong.)
Leipheimer told the Press Democrat that it's amazing the US has three or four riders in the top 10 in Europe. There are only about 15 US cyclists competing there, compared to hundreds from Italy and Spain. Why?
“I think a lot of it has to do with us leaving our family, friends . .. our culture … behind to race in Europe. I think we work extra hard to make the most of it.”
The article talks about the recognition Leipheimer has received, such as a parade in his honor in his birthplace of Butte, Montana. It also reports on his wife, Odessa, their animal activism, and his chances in the coming year, including the inaugural Tour of California which passes right through his hometown of Santa Rosa.