Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ride LA

This Sunday, ten miles of streets in and around downtown Los Angeles will be closed to car traffic, freeing cyclists, runners, and the rest of the public to savor unimpeded roads. This third annual event stretches from 10am to 3pm and features treats like live music along the route. Learn more:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hincapie's Young Cyclist Program

George Hincapie
Watch this video on George Hincapie's Development Cycling Program which aims to support and grow the talents of young riders:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Levi Leipheimer: A Profile

Leipheimer in Denver
America’s most famous professional cyclist racing today, Levi Leipheimer won the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Sunday and added to his string of victories this season. At the Denver award ceremony, the huge crowd chanted “Levi! Levi!” and even the race announcers admitted they had been rooting for the mild-mannered RadioShack rider. “I’ve got to tell you, it took some of the best form of my life to win this race against Christian (Vande Velde), Tejay (Van Garderen), and Garmin-Cervelo,” said Leipheimer. While the 37-year-old is among the oldest cyclists in the peloton, his form continues to match and beat the competition.

Leipheimer’s victory in Colorado came on the heels of his win at the Tour of Utah earlier in August. He had also taken first place at the Tour de Suisse in June, where he pipped the win from Damiano Cunego with a masterful time trial in the race’s final stage.

Tour of California
Yet the 2011 season brought disappointment as well. In May, the three-time winner of the Tour of California hoped to regain the title taken last year by Michael Rogers. However Leipheimer could not match teammate Chris Horner in the mountains, so he switched to a supportive role and finished in second place behind Horner. The Tour de France was a disaster for Team RadioShack due to injuries and illness, and Leipheimer’s hope of a podium finish was revised. He was pleased just to finish the race. His best result was the third place finish in 2007, an achievement most professional cyclists only dream of.

Formerly a competitive skier, Leipheimer turned pro in 1997. He joined Lance Armstrong’s team, U.S. Postal, for the 2000 and 2001 seasons, then became his rival during stints on the Rabobank and Gerolsteiner squads. Levi rejoined the American contingent of international cycling when he signed with the Discovery Channel team for the 2007 season. That year, Leipheimer rode the Tour de France in support of teammate Alberto Contador who won the race while Levi finished third, just 31 seconds behind.

2009 Giro: Mt. Vesuvius
Since the Discovery team folded, Leipheimer and Contador followed team manager Johan Bruyneel to the Astana squad from Kazakhstan in 2008. That same year, Levi finished second at the Vuelta a Espana and grabbed the bronze medal at the road cycling race at the Beijing Olympics. In 2009, he finished the Giro d’Italia in sixth place riding alongside Lance Armstrong who had returned from retirement. The 2010 racing season saw Leipheimer, Armstrong, Bruyneel, and a slew of other key players jump to the new RadioShack squad. All signs indicate that Leipheimer is happy with the team and will continue to race indefinitely.

Leipheimer’s strengths as a bike rider are multi-faceted. He is an expert time trialer, disciplined in perfecting aerodynamic form. He is also a great climber, generating a lot of power from his 5’6”, 137 lb. frame. Strategic thinking is another strength, as evidenced by his burst to the finish line at Stage 1 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge where Leipheimer recognized he had the opportunity to best all of his colleagues.

Leipheimer describes himself as “a very even-keeled person.” The huge smiles and fist pumps he displayed following his win at Stage 3 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge was a rare display of emotion. “I try not to get too upset or too ecstatic when I win,” said Levi at the Vail podium ceremony where he was awarded the stage victory. “But I let it go today when I found out that I won.”

Tour of CA time trial
Born in Montana, Leipheimer lives in the northern California town of Santa Rosa with his wife, a former professional cyclist from Canada. Since 2009, he hosts Levi’s Gran Fondo, a sell-out cycling event in the fall enabling fans to ride with the champion on his hometown roads. A documentary on Leipheimer is scheduled to be released in 2012.

Like many cyclists, Levi has embraced Twitter, where he frequently recognizes fans and teammates for their support. Following the finale at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, he tweeted, “What a great day! I am absolutely blown away by the crowds out there. I'll never forget it. Thank you all for the amazing support.”

In America and around the world, cycling fans are eager for Levi Leipheimer to continue to shoot for results at the world’s toughest races. Those hopes will likely come true in the 2012 season as new crowds will be chanting, “Levi! Levi!”

Learn more about Levi:
Levi’s web site:
Levi’s Gran Fondo:

Photos from the USA Pro Cycling Challenge:
Vail: Warming up for the time trial
Vail: on course
Vail: overall race leader
Vail: also leader of green sprint jersey
Vail: stage winner, awarded free lifetime ski pass

Avon: pre-race interview
Avon: heading to the start line
Avon: start line
Avon: national anthem

Breckenridge: on course
Denver: finish line
Denver: on the way to the podium

Denver: final interview
Denver: Leipheimer (center) with Van Garderen (l) & Vande Velde (r)
Congratulations on another great win, Levi!

Monday, August 29, 2011

American Victory in Colorado

Van Garderen, Leipheimer, Vande Velde
The first USA Pro Cycling Challenge attracted the best riders in the world to Colorado, where enormous crowds cheered the competition over seven days and at altitudes reaching 12,000 feet. America's elite cyclists dominated the overall standings, while the top three finishers of the 2011 Tour de France made a good show but did not compete at top form. Sunday's finale into downtown Denver delivered the third sprint finish, an exciting climax to the newest showcase for professional cycling on American soil.

Launching in Colorado Springs on August 22nd, the race began with a prologue consisting of a 5 mile individual time trial. While American Christian Vande Velde drove home a compelling time, the young German Patrick Gretsch snatched the win and the leader's yellow jersey. Stage 1 brought the first mountains of the competition, including Monarch Pass and overall climbing of over 8,000 feet. Given the altitude, the two Colombian teams were pre-race favorites for the king of the mountains competition and demonstrated their form. Yet the pack drew to the finish together, and American Levi Leipheimer burst to the line first in an uncharacteristic surge of energy that surprised even him.

George Hincapie
That stage win gave Leipheimer of Team RadioShack the overall lead going into the most mountainous day of racing. Christened the "Queen's Stage," Stage 2 rose to over 12,000 feet and featured a 14 mile climb up the dirt road of Cottonwood Pass. Special permission was given for spectators to camp overnight to watch the action, including a rainy descent into Aspen. Leipheimer hesitated on that descent, young rival Tejay Van Garderen road aggressively to take over the overall lead, and fan favorite George Hincapie timed his efforts perfectly to grab the stage win. It was a day for the Americans.

The Vail time trial followed on Stage 3 with a twist. The 10 mile course was uphill, and with a climb of 1,783 feet, it favored all-around riders rather than the time trial specialists. Leipheimer won the day, and Van Garderen was profoundly disappointed in losing his grip on the overall lead. The next two stages featured moderate hills and were snatched by Elia Viviani of Liquigas-Cannondale, but not without a fight. Andy Schleck and Ivan Basso, both second place finishers of the Tour de France, drove in the breakaway looking for the stage win. They proved they were not in Colorado to take it easy. However, the peloton caught the break less than half a mile to the finish, and the Italian, Viviani, won the day. The overall standings remained stable with Leipheimer in first, Vande Velde of Garmin-Cervelo in second, and Van Garderen of HTC-Highroad in third.

Civic Park in front of the Colorado state capitol building was the site of the final stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. The 73 mile course finished with six circuits through the heart of downtown, and crowds lined the route 5, 10, and even 15 people deep. HTC-Highroad made several attempts to take the stage with a breakaway, aiming to bring home a win in their last race in the U.S. The winningest team in pro cycling since its start in 2008, HTC is folding at the end of the season. Yet the peloton reeled in the breakaway, and Viviani held back to let teammate and fellow Italian Daniel Oss win the stage. View the peloton riding a circuit in Denver:

Leipheimer's win at the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge came on the heels of his victory of the Tour of Utah earlier this month. The 37-year-old won the Tour de Suisse in June but had a disappointing Tour de France this year, due to multiple crashes for him and his teammates. Aside from former teammate Lance Armstrong, Leipheimer is the best known American cyclist racing today.

Danielson & Vande Velde
Finishing a mere 11 seconds behind Leipheimer was Vande Velde, age 35, who has flirted with retirement for the last few years. His solid form and experience contributed strongly to the success of his team this season, including victory at the team time trial at the Tour de France. Just 6 seconds behind Vande Velde, 23-year-old Van Garderen had hopes of winning the race but faltered on the time trial. He had just won the time trial stage at the Tour of Utah earlier this month and is considered a strong all-around rider with potential to win the Tour de France as he matures. Van Garderen continues to distinguish himself against the veteran U.S. cyclists.

The top five finishers at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge were Americans riding for American teams, a remarkable achievement unthinkable in the world of pro cycling just ten years ago. Following Leipheimer, Vande Velde, and Van Garderen were veterans Tom Danielson of Garmin and George Hincapie of BMC. Danielson had aimed to win the race but was weakened by a stomach bug and struggled to finish. The 33-year-old Colorado resident has enjoyed the best results of his career, including an unexpected ninth place finish at the Tour de France.

Hincapie is the most beloved American racing today, and whenever he appeared in Colorado, the crowds roared "George!" Despite victories such as Stage 2 in Colorado, a stage at the Tour de France, and three wins at the US Road Race Championships, personal success at the spring classics has eluded the 38-year-old. Hincapie is best known for his role as loyal teammate to three Tour de France winners. He helped Armstrong ride to seven victories, then rode for victorious teammates Alberto Contador in 2007 and Cadel Evans this year.

Andy Schleck
The world's elite cyclists competed at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, though they were not as poised to go for the win as much as the Americans. Cadel Evans arrived in Colorado after a celebratory visit to his native Australia, his first trip home after a grand Tour de France victory. He even stated that he hoped to train better for Colorado next year, though fans embraced his every move and surrounded the BMC bus seeking autographs and pictures. Andy Schleck and his brother Frank finished second and third after Evans in France, but they matched Evans in Colorado as far as fan appreciation. Children held signs welcoming the Leopard-Trek riders, and spectators jumped with delight when catching a glimpse of Andy warming up. Also in Colorado was Ivan Basso, the Italian leader of the Italian team, Liquigas. Basso is a two-time winner of the Giro d'Italia, and spectators in Colorado called out different pronunciations of his name to cheer him on.

In addition to the general classification (overall) race, cyclists competed for additional races within the race. Garmin-Cervelo won the team competition, in what is becoming a regular accomplishment for the squad. They won the team competition at this year's Tour de France, Tour de Romandie and Tour of California. Results are determined by combining the cumulative times of the top three riders of each team.

Team Garmin-Cervelo

Tejay Van Garderen won the best young rider's blue jersey, awarded to the highest-placed cyclist aged 23 and under. He won the same jersey at the Tour of California in May. Capturing the green sprinters jersey was Elia Viviani, who won Stages 4 and 5 and finished second on the final sprint in Denver. The 22-year-old has been marked as a sprinter to watch in the future. Rafael Montiel won the orange king of the mountains jersey for his performance on the climbs. Montiel is a Colombian riding for the Colombian team, Gobernacion de Antioquia-Indeported Antioquia. American Timothy Duggan of Liquigas was awarded the orange jersey for the most aggressive rider for his performance on Stage 6.
Jersey winners: Leipheimer, Montiel, Viviani, Van Garderen, Duggan

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge was the first time the top three finishers at the Tour de France competed on American soil, but the vigorous competition among the American riders brought the best action. Reaction from the crowds as well as the cyclists indicate the race was a great success and should return next year. Clearly there is demand in the U.S. for professional bike racing at the highest level. And if Cadel Evans makes good on his plan to train more specifically for Colorado, the hometown boys will have to ride even faster to defend their native championship.

View final race results:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Colorado's Final Stage

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge concluded with a third straight stage win for the Italian riders of the Liquigas-Cannondale team. Despite attempts by HTC-Highroad, Xergy, and others to grab a victory with a breakaway effort, the peloton caught the leaders in the final kilometers, and Daniel Oss took advantage for the sprint win. His first place finish was followed by teammate Elia Viviani, the winner of Stages 5 and 6 who finished second. American Freddy Rodriguez of Xergy rounded out the podium in third place on the stage, while Levi Leipheimer won the race overall. With speeds in excess of 30 miles per hour and the streets of downtown Denver packed with cheering spectators, it was an exciting finale for this inaugural race.

FINAL CIRCUITS: Riders completed six circuits through downtown before the big finish

HTC-Highroad leads breakaway
Ivan Basso leads chase group

Freddy Rodriguez takes a turn leading breakaway

Garmin-Cervelo heads chase group

Jens Voigt

Liquigas winners in lime green: Viviani (left), Oss (center)
Levi Leipheimer, overall winner

Frank Schleck (LUX)

Ivan Basso (ITA), Liquigas team leader

Stage winner Daniel Oss (ITA)
Rodriguez, Oss, Viviani

Saturday, August 27, 2011

USA Pro Cycling Challenge: Breckenridge in Pictures

Ivan Basso (ITA)
The big boys of cycling aimed for a stage victory at today's USA Pro Cycling Challenge but got pipped by the sprinters at the finish in Breckenridge. Tour de France runner-ups Andy Schleck and Ivan Basso rode in the breakaway but were caught by the peloton in the last 500 meters. Elia Viviani bested the rest to win his second consecutive stage at the inaugural Colorado race, while Levi Leipheimer and his RadioShack team defended his position as overall race leader despite pressure from rival Christian Vande Velde and his Garmin-Cervelo squad.

The seventh and final stage of the race will finish in the heart of Denver tomorrow, and Leipheimer is expected to take first with Christian Vande Velde in second and Tejay Van Garderen in third. Television coverage will air on NBC.


FINAL HALF MILE: Breakaway still leads

Break included T. Peterson, A. Schleck & I. Basso
Chase includes Cadel Evans (center in red)


AFTER THE RACE: Riders head to team buses
Cadel Evans (AUS)
Christian Vande Velde (USA) & Ryder Hesjedal (CAN)
At left: Frank Schleck (LUX)
Laurens Ten Dam (NED), who led the early break
Sylvester Szmyd (POL) & Christopher Jones (USA)
Danny Pate (USA)

BACK AT THE BUS: Fans gather for autographs
Fans swarm George Hincapie at BMC bus
George Hincapie (USA) signing autographs
At the RadioShack team bus
Crowd awaits the Schleck brothers at Leopard-Trek's trailer
Dave Zabriskie (USA)