Levi and the 2006 Tour

Heading into the 2006 Tour, there was no clear favorite. Lance had retired, and Jan, Basso and Mancebo (and Vino essentially) were bounced because of Operation Puerto. The highest finisher from the previous year was Levi Leipheimer. Looking at the 2005 results, here's what we had:

Levi: 11:21
Chicken +.12
Cadel: +.34
Floyd: + 1.23
Pereiro: + 4.41

Other favorites though were Alejandro Valverde and Andreas Kloden. But Levi had just won the Dauphine, and by all accounts, the longer TT's in 2006 should have helped Levi even more. But he entered the race told he'd share the team lead with Georg Totschnig, who happened to finish 49 minutes behind Lance the year before, thus a half hour behind Levi. He also stated in a Sports Illustrated article he was hoping for a top 5 finish. Top 5??? He was in a prime position to win the thing!

After the prologue, Levi finished 36th, some :21 behind. Not great, but still way ahead of Totschnig, who somehow finished in 141st. But when they got to the first big ITT, a tough 52km course, Levi somehow finished 96th, pounding his handlebars in frustration as he crossed the finish line. At the end of the day he lost 6 minutes to stage winner Gonshar (and almost as much to Floyd), sandwiched between Samuel Plouhinec, and Alexandre Botcharov (right, "who?"). He was now the 5th best placed rider on his team even. Afterwards he announced that his Tour was pretty much over, and he'd try for stage wins (imagine if Pererio or Floyd said the same thing?!)

Days later, he said he didn't want to make any excuses. As things got going, he climbed pretty well, almost winning two mountain stages, hinting that he hadn't been able to eat too well, which might explain some. But he lost another 6 minutes on the final ITT. And just like that, a guy with the best time from the previous year, had completely lost probably his best chance of winning the Tour de France.

What the hell happened?

I've heard all kinds of stories. Stomach upset; diarrhea; saddle sores; team dissent; Levi (or most of the team) tried to ride clean, this being post OP scandal and all. But I never heard any sort of official reason. I even tried e-mailing Levi after it was over, but got no answer.

You can watch Levi's Tour diaries that year right here.
 
Disco suffered a similar collapse in form, only theirs lasted the whole Tour. My wild theory is that doctors in Spain dumped the blood they had in storage after Fuentes was busted. The police never searched Fuentes main office on Tenerife, so maybe Fuentes cleaned out that office, fearing the police would get to it.

How to explain the second half of Leipheimer's Tour? I don't know. Maybe in June he managed to store some blood but had to make do with only part of what is usual.

Maybe there is a simple answer like he was sick.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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The first long TT, I've only ever heard Holczer commenting on it, and throghout the times he stuck to his story: diarrhea kept Leipheimer up all night the day before.

Personally I'm more convinced that even though that's what Holczer really believes, it's not the real story.
 
Mar 13, 2009
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issoisso said:
The first long TT, I've only ever heard Holczer commenting on it, and throghout the times he stuck to his story: diarrhea kept Leipheimer up all night the day before.

Personally I'm more convinced that even though that's what Holczer really believes, it's not the real story.
the story is bull**** for sure. And he was still charged. Just some other factor was there.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Shoot me down, but I seem to remember looking through the stats on ITT results for Contador, Evans, and Leipheimer prior to the final ITT in the 2007 TdF (trying to work out what chance Cadel had of winning) and Leipheimer's ITT results were modest to that point. I think he had won or placed highly in one ITT but had otherwise not done anything noteworthy in any other ITT. As I said, I could well be wrong, but it seemed at that stage that his TT ability was over-exaggerated. Not now, but then.
 
elapid said:
Shoot me down, but I seem to remember looking through the stats on ITT results for Contador, Evans, and Leipheimer prior to the final ITT in the 2007 TdF (trying to work out what chance Cadel had of winning) and Leipheimer's ITT results were modest to that point. I think he had won or placed highly in one ITT but had otherwise not done anything noteworthy in any other ITT. As I said, I could well be wrong, but it seemed at that stage that his TT ability was over-exaggerated. Not now, but then.
As I remember it, Leipheimer had a pretty good record at short ITTs, but he had never performed that well in a long one. The 2007 ITT was a big surprise. By total coincidence, I am sure, it coincided with his return to The Hog.
 
elapid said:
Shoot me down, but I seem to remember looking through the stats on ITT results for Contador, Evans, and Leipheimer prior to the final ITT in the 2007 TdF (trying to work out what chance Cadel had of winning) and Leipheimer's ITT results were modest to that point. I think he had won or placed highly in one ITT but had otherwise not done anything noteworthy in any other ITT. As I said, I could well be wrong, but it seemed at that stage that his TT ability was over-exaggerated. Not now, but then.
He became very popular on his ITT because of his great performance in La Vuelta a España in 2001. He placed second to Santiago Botero in both TT stages and that help him to be placed on the Podium on that year. After he left UPS he became anonymous on his TT. Only until he got back to Discovery team his TT abilities came back.
Maybe there is actually a team formula that we don't know of.
 
Mar 13, 2009
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Escarabajo said:
He became very popular on his ITT because of his great performance in La Vuelta a España in 2001. He placed second to Santiago Botero in both TT stages and that help him to be placed on the Podium on that year. After he left UPS he became anonymous on his TT. Only until he got back to Discovery team his TT abilities came back.
Maybe there is actually a team formula that we don't know of.
no, he has actually always had a very good tt in Dauphine, the prologues also, and in Germany and Cali.

There is no doubt a formula, but the formula was lost on Holsczer at Gerolsteiner, who did not have his docs giving their riders the recovery elixir.
 
blackcat said:
no, he has actually always had a very good tt in Dauphine, the prologues also, and in Germany and Cali.

There is no doubt a formula, but the formula was lost on Holsczer at Gerolsteiner, who did not have his docs giving their riders the recovery elixir.
Good point. Although I was referring to his Tour de france TT performances.
 
issoisso said:
The first long TT, I've only ever heard Holczer commenting on it, and throghout the times he stuck to his story: diarrhea kept Leipheimer up all night the day before.
That's nonsense, because after climbing well in the middle, Levi lost another six minutes in the final ITT as well.

Escarabajo said:
Only until he got back to Discovery team his TT abilities came back. Maybe there is actually a team formula that we don't know of.
Yes, yes, the secret Hog training and technique formula that no one else knows - and everyone forgets once they leave his teams.

Seriously, Holzcer had his head in a bag I'm afraid. He wanted to clean up his team and talked about it, but had to have known things were going on and looked the other way at the very least.
 
Jul 7, 2009
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No doubt about the head in the sand! Or about a 'formula' - it is not dramatic at all that almost every rider on a certain team greatly improves their ITT ability and consistency. I am sure it is because they are training harder than they used to :rolleyes:
 
Mar 11, 2009
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Izoard said:
No doubt about the head in the sand! Or about a 'formula' - it is not dramatic at all that almost every rider on a certain team greatly improves their ITT ability and consistency. I am sure it is because they are training harder than they used to :rolleyes:
Training harder so they can maintain that higher cadence!
 

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