American Leipheimer Kicks off Season, Committing to the Tour

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Levi Leipheimer officially kicked off the 2005 season in Mallorca, Spain last week with his new team, Gerolsteiner, and announced that his training efforts this year will be principally aimed at a high place finish at the Tour de France.

Mallorca, Spain - Levi Leipheimer officially kicked off the 2005 season in Mallorca, Spain last week with his new team, Gerolsteiner, and announced that his training efforts this year will be principally aimed at a high place finish at the Tour de France.

Leipheimer will be at the German team’s annual training camp until today. After that, he will attend an official team presentation in Germany. In Mallorca, Leipheimer has been getting acquainted with his new teammates, talking with the press and sponsors, and familiarizing himself with new gear.

So far Leipheimer is the only American Tour contender to commit to cycling’s biggest event. “I’ve finished twice in the top ten,” he said of the Tour. “This year, I’d like to be in the top five with a good shot at the podium. And if that’s not possible, I’ll go for a stage win.”

Last year, Leipheimer raced with Rabobank. But he chose to sign with Gerolsteiner this year rather than renew with his old team, and was impressed with Gerolsteiner’s progress over the past three years. "It's a team with momentum,” Leipheimer said. In respective years since 2002, the team has jumped from eleventh, to sixth, to third in team rankings by the UCI, international cycling’s governing body. Its success was largely a result of strong finishes in the Tour De France and the spring classics.

This year Gerolsteiner is one of 19 teams selected to participate in the inaugural Pro Tour, comprised of 30 races including three grand tours (e.g., the Tour de France). This new format rewards teams for being well-rounded. Manager Hans Michael Holczer recruited Leipheimer mainly to promote the team’s standing at the Tour de France. Holczer said that Leipheimer was “sympathetic” and “open-minded.” He was also impressed with the cyclist’s focused and conscientious attitude, summing, “This is 100% what I think the team should be, and that’s what I like.”

Leipheimer’s first race will be the Tour of Murcia on March 2. Thereafter, he plans to race all spring in preparation for the Tour. Unlike years past, Leipheimer will use the Tour of Switzerland, instead of the Dauphine Libere, as his final preparation before the big race in July.

Leipheimer recently launched his website “LeviLeipheimer.net,” containing training and race updates, a biography, and images from his career.

Contact Information:

Mark Shimahara

LeviLeipheimer.net

http://www.LeviLeipheimer.net

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