Leipheimer wins time trial

Updated: March 24, 2009, 2:27 PM ET
Associated Press

PALENCIA, Spain -- Astana rider Levi Leipheimer won the second stage of the Vuelta of Castilla and Leon cycling race Tuesday, beating Alberto Contador by 16 seconds.

Leipheimer won the 17-mile time trial around the northern town of Palencia in 33 minutes, 17.78 seconds. Garmin-Slipstream rider David Zabriskie was third, 22 seconds behind Leipheimer.

Leipheimer, who won the Tour of California this season, leads Contador in the overall standings by 16 seconds.

"It was very hard, a lot of wind and nowhere to recover," Leipheimer said. "I had to push the whole time and it became more and more difficult in the stage. It was a good time trial for me, always straight, had a lot of speed."

Contador believed the race was now in the hands of his American teammate.

"I'm overall pretty content with the result," the Spaniard said. "It will be difficult to try to think about winning. Now, I'll try to help my teammate who has taken control of the leader's jersey."

Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong left the race Monday after fracturing his collarbone in a crash.

The Castilla and Leon was to have been the first time Astana teammates Armstrong and Contador had ridden together since the 37-year-old American returned from 3½ years of retirement.

Leipheimer said Armstrong's fall had an emotional impact on him.

"I felt a little depressed because we were having a great time together," Leipheimer said. "I was also a little bit disappointed yesterday, so it was nice to win today. I hope that he can share a little bit of the victory and motivation to come back."

Wednesday's third stage is a 98-mile ride between Sahagun and the mountaintop winter station of San Isidro.

"We're very happy with the results, if they can keep going like that," Astana team manager Johan Bruyneel said.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press