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TdF Wrap: Levi Leipheimer

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I wanted to lead off with Cunego, but since apparently Levi is going to be Tuesday's main topic of conversation, better start here.

At 33 years old, Levi Leipheimer may have just said goodbye to any serious Tour de France ambitions. This was the first year in which he had a clean shot at the podium or even the win: he was coming off 2005 when, for once, he never faltered; he entered as the highest placed returning rider from last year's GC, and his win in the Dauphine Libere confirmed his terrific climbing ability on the longest days.

And then? A stomach bug cost him six minutes right off in the ITT. He rebounded and looked terrific in the Pyrenees, hung with the favorites over Alpe d'Huez and up La Toussuire, but then coughed up 21 minutes on the ride to Morzine. Why this is so, I have to confess, got a bit lost in the Landis hysteria, but since he was on the attack the next day the best guess is his own jour sans.

So what next? Where does a 33-year-old climbing freak with such a resume go?

Apparently we'll find out any moment now, with Discovery all but confirmed. But I find it impossible they would make him their Tour leader. With his track record, Leipheimer cannot be counted on in the Tour... but he's still a serious threat in any secondary grand tour or minor tour, where the bonk can't catch up to him as easily. Levi could easily go back to where it all began -- the Vuelta -- and fly away in the hills like he did in the Dauphine or in the Deutschland Rundfahrt last year. If it's to be Discovery, let him be part of the Tour team, even a leader of a team in need of leaders on the road, even if he's working for someone else. Make him the protected rider in Spain, where he can have one last go at a major title. But giving him the keys to the car? I don't see it.