Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) starts Saturday’s prologue at the Tour de Suisse with the Tour de France on his mind.
The defending champion is hoping a hard week of racing across a demanding course over the Swiss Alps is just what he needs to hone his fitness ahead of July’s Tour.
The 38-year-old Leipheimer is still recovering from a car/bike collision caused when a Spanish motorist struck him from behind in early April. After suffering a fractured left fibula in the crash, Leipheimer lines up in Lugano, Switzerland, without too much pressure to defend his 2011 title.
Leipheimer was able to return to racing for last month’s Amgen Tour of California, where he rode to sixth place overall, impressive considering what he had been through. Nearing full health again, Leipheimer told VeloNews that he’s more motivated than ever for the challenges that lie ahead:
VeloNews: You had a great start to 2012, with victory at the Tour de San Luis in January, but have since had some tough luck. How would you characterize your season so far?
Levi Leipheimer: I have had some trials and tribulations the last couple of years, but as I get older, I am getting used to it. I’ve learned I don’t need to get stressed out about stuff you cannot control anyway. But getting hit by a car and breaking a leg was a big deal! It took a lot of time to come back. It wasn’t the pain, but the strength in the leg isn’t there right now. The bone is healed and I am working on getting stronger and it’s been a difficult process. The leg atrophied and there is still some scar tissue around the fracture site. I have been getting deep massage to try to work that out, to get that moving again. It just takes awhile for everything to remodel itself.
VN: How close was it to you not being able to race California?
LL: It required a lot of work. I have been working as hard or harder than I ever
To read the whole story, visit here: http://velonews.competitor.com/2012/06/news/leipheimer-qa-looking-for-swiss-tour-bump_222889