Defending champion Levi Leipheimer took the yellow jersey at the Tour of Utah on Friday as he scorched the 9-mile individual time trial course at the Miller Motorsports Park.
His time was bested by only one other cyclist, Tejay Van Garderen, a native of Tacoma, Washington, and member of the HTC-HighRoad pro cycling team.
In spite of winning the prologue and surviving in the overall lead for the first two stages, Colombia's Sergio Henao (Gobernacion De Antioquia-Indeportes Antio) fell off the pace in the ITT, finishing 1:46 behind Van Garderen.
Leipheimer, a member of the RadioShack team, has a 27-second lead over teammate Janez Brajkovic of Slovakia. Oscar Sevilla is 3rd overall at 29 seconds behind, and Henao dropped to 4th at 56 seconds. After the race, Leipheimer said:
have to capitalize on the time trial. I know that’s what I had to do
today and cut as much time as I could into Oscar (Sevilla) and (Sergio)
Henao, because those two, and their team (Gobernacion Indeportes
Antioquia), will be very aggressive and they’ll be hard to control.”
Van Garderen, 23, is having a great year. He started in his first Tour de France and earned the King of the Mountains jersey in Stage 8, and the same stage in which he was honored as most aggressive rider. He finished 5th overall at the Tour of California in May. He now makes his home in Tuscany.
Leipheimer's presence at the Tour of Utah this year means he won't be around on Saturday to defend his record-setting championship at the Leadville 100 mountain bike race, which runs Saturday.
The Tour of Utah ends Sunday.
Top 10 overall
1. Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack
2. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) RadioShack — :27
3. Oscar Sevilla (Esp) Gobernacion De Antioquia-Indeportes Antio — :29
4. Sergio Henao (Col) Gobernacion De Antioquia-Indeportes Antio — :56
5. Jesse Anthony (USA) Kelly Benefit — 1:24
6. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad — 2:27
7. Christian VandeVelde (USA) Garmin-Cervelo — 2:50
8. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Cervelo — 2:50
9. George Hincapie (USA) BMC Cycling — 3:17
10. Jack Bauer (NZl) Endura Racing — 3:20