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Americans in the 2012 Tour de San Luis, Update 3

January 27, 2012

Tour de San Luis Stage 5 profile

Today riders in the Tour de San Luis face arguably the most difficult final kilometers of all the stages in the second mountain-top finish. The sting in this 7.3 km climb? It’s steep. With an average grade of 8.75% and several portions rising to 14% – 15%, defending the leader’s jersey on this climb up to Mirador del Sol should prove difficult.

Alberto Contador unleashed his signature climbing skills on Stage 3 when he won on Mirador del Potrero de los Funes. While Levi Leipheimer finished near Contador’s wheel, he couldn’t take the chance that Contador will gain too much time on him today. Leipheimer had to pull on the leader’s jersey yesterday after the time trial; he accomplished that in great form with the next best placed rider, Vincenzo Nibali, 23 seconds behind.

Vincenzo Nibali (Fan club photo)

Contador delivered a so-so time trial result; he came in 1:01 behind Leipheimer. Was Contador saving his energy for today’s final climb? Its steepness certainly favors Contador over Leipheimer. With Nibali just 55 seconds behind Leipheimer in GC, and motivated to repeat his overall win at the Tour de San Luis in 2010, he’s bound to attack in the last 7 km unless something goes wrong for him, as is Stefan Schumacher. Nibali, Schumacher, and Contador are all within a minute of the overall lead.

Saxo Bank’s Philippe Mauduit reiterated yesterday that Contador’s form hasn’t reached peak. The team’s race report didn’t mention any goals for tomorrow and also said Contador’s win on Stage 3 was “more than we could have hoped for.” What the team didn’t say was, when the road rises, hope always stands by Contador for a victory. In this race Saxo Bank’s riders provide more support uphill than the teammates surrounding Leipheimer; Nibali can count on more riders for support uphill as well.

Today’s race action should be exciting. @opqscyclingteam and @BiciGogaESPN provide excellent Tour de San Luis coverage on Twitter, and the latter daily tweets a link to live radio in Spanish. (This link to the radio coverage worked on an earlier stage: http://www.radiodigitalsanluis.com.ar/.) The announcer’s exuberance raises emotion to a frenzy that lasts for quite some time after the winner crosses the line, even for non-Spanish speakers.

Jake Keough finished third in Stage 2’s sprint finale; in this Cyclingnews report with video he and UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling teammate Jay Thomson talk about that day’s race.

General Classification, Tour de San Luis, after Stage 4

Place Rider Overall time
1 Levi Leipheimer, Omega Pharma-QuickStep 13:07:52
2 Stefan Schumacher, Christina Watches-Ofone 0:00:53
3 Vincenzo Nibali, Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:55
4 Alberto Contador Velasco, Team Saxo Bank 0:00:57
5 Sylvain Chavanel, Omega Pharma-QuickStep 0:01:20
6 Daniel Diaz, San Luis Somos Todos 0:01:36
7 Luis Mansilla, Chile 0:01:43
8 Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez, Androni Giocattoli 0:01:49
9 Magno Prado Nazaret, Funvic-Pidamonhangab st
10 Andrey Amador Bakkazakova, Movistar 0:02:51
73 Ted King, Liquigas-Cannondale 0:13:39
90 Jeff Louder, UnitedHealthcare 0:15:10
91 Jake Keough, UnitedHealthcare 0:15:12
92 Adrian Hegyvary, UnitedHealthcare 0:15:19
97 Timothy Duggan, Liquigas-Cannondale 0:15:52
163 Jason McCartney, UnitedHealthcare 1:00:03
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