Levi Leipheimer continued his winning ways in New Mexico Friday by winning the 25-kilometre individual time trial, taking his second win of the 2009 SRAM Tour of the Gila.
Leipheimer (Mellow Johnny’s) completed the course in a record time of 32:59, his seventh victory of 2009. Tom Zirbel (Bissell) finished second, 53 seconds behind, while Leipheimer’s Mellow Johnny’s teammate Lance Armstrong took his first podium place of the season, finishing 3rd at 1’23” behind.
“I simply do my best,” Leipheimer said after the finish. “Yes, I am a specialist in this work, but that doesn’t mean that it is so easy. Having to climb the Little Burro Pass twice made it not so easy. A good test for the Tour of Italy anyway. It is always better to tune-up your time trial skills in a race.”
The Tour of the Gila marks Armstrong’s first event since he broke his collarbone on March 23th at the Vuelta a Castilla y León.
“It was a tough course, deceivingly hard,” Armstrong said. “There were a lot of false flats out there with a combination of hills, wind and altitude. I think I buried myself in parts and couldn’t bring it back because of the altitude, but the ride was not so bad all things considered.”
Armstrong’s effort left him in fourth place overall.
Leipheimer has now a comfortable lead of 2:39 over Peter Stetina (Felt – Holowesko Partners – Garmin) in the general classification.
The SRAM Tour of the Gila ends Sunday. Saturday’s stage is a climber’s criterium in Silver City, while Sunday’s queen stage (the Gila Monster Road Race) will take the riders to the mountaintop at Pinos Altos.
Results – Stage 3, ITT Tyrone, New Mexico (25 km/16.15 miles)
1. Levi Leipheimer 32.59; 2. Tom Zirbel 0.53; 3. Lance Armstrong 1.23; 4. Phil Zajicek 1.36; 5. Peter Stetina 1.50
General Classification after 3 stages
1. Levi Leipheimer; 2. Peter Stetina 2.39; 3. Chris Baldwin 2.51; 4. Lance Armstrong 3.03; 5. Phil Zajicek 3.36