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TOUR OF CALIFORNIA

Leipheimer fights wind to extend lead

The Discovery Channel rider averages almost 30 miles an hour to win the individual time trial.

February 24, 2007|From the Associated Press

SOLVANG — Levi Leipheimer expanded his lead Friday in the Amgen Tour of California with a dominating win in the fifth stage individual time trial.

Leipheimer, an American on the Discovery Channel team, completed the windy 14.5-mile Solvang course in 29 minutes 40.44 seconds for an average speed of 29.44 mph. He was the last of 127 riders on the course.

CSC rider Jens Voigt of Germany, who began the day three seconds behind Leipheimer in the overall standings, finished second 18 seconds behind. Jason McCartney, also on the Discovery Channel team, was third in 30:05.14.

Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, the reigning time trial world titlist, finished fourth for CSC in 30:17.91.

Leipheimer, who has three top-10 finishes in the Tour de France and has won the Tour of Germany, leads Voight by 21 seconds with two stages of the eight-day race left. McCartney is third, trailing by 54 seconds.

"I was taking some risks," Leipheimer said. "At one point, I actually clipped a bush with my shoulder. Looking back, I was really going for it."

Steady headwinds on the first half of the course increased throughout the day, with later top-rated riders facing the most difficult conditions. But Leipheimer posted the fastest halfway time and then increased his pace during the second half of the course.

The 639.2-mile race continues today with the 105.4-mile sixth stage from Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita.

The race concludes Sunday with the seventh stage circuit race in Long Beach.

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