Comment: What’s in a victory salute?

As Levi Leipheimer crossed the line in Solvang at the end of the time trial he held three fingers toward the sky. It didn?t take a genius to work out what he was saying.

He knew the win in the TT meant he?d sewn up the overall classification in the Tour of California, his third in a row. He repeated it on the podium, just to make sure that everyone got the message.

It was a pretty unimaginative salute, but we?ll let him off. It was at the end of an intense 30 minutes and he was hunkered down on his tri-bars, so it?s not so easy to be extravagant. And maybe he got a little stage fright on the podium. Trying new material in front of a large crowd is always intimidating.

But he?s going to have to get a little more inventive by Sunday if he wants to make an impression when he crosses the final finish line in Escondido. His problem is he needs something to shout about above and beyond the number three.

If he had a new born baby he could mimic Carlos Sastre?s celebrations when he won stage 13 of Tour de France in 2003. Having carried a baby?s dummy around with him Sastre pulled it out and popped it in his mouth for the finish.

Too silly? No new kids on the horizon? Okay, how about mimicking the mountain bikers? They, and the cyclo cross riders, have developed a habit of walking across the finish line with their bikes held over their heads. Remember Julien Absalon in Beijing? The photographers lap it up, but doing that is not so easy for Levi when he?s in the middle of a bunch doing 70kph.

JulienJulien Absalon goes for the old bike over the head trick. Lovely stuff. Picture by Graham Watson.

He?d have to break away alone, or drop off the back. But even then he?s got the whole cleat problem to deal with. Just imagine, you?ve won one of the biggest bike races in the world, decide you?re going all out for a stand-out salute, and end up falling flat on your arse.

I guess he could nip to the nearest bike shop and buy some cleat covers, they?re pretty cheap, and he?d no doubt get a generous discount while the race is on.

Whatever he does, it?s probably best he doesn?t copy Mark Cavendish?s celebration from stage four in to Clovis.

After dispatching with Tom Boonen fairly comfortably in the sprint, Cavendish sat up, lowered his hands, and seemed to cradle his – how shall I put this – ?special area?.

Just what was he trying to say? Mark failed to elaborate on this during the press conference, but thankfully some one else did. Step forward Dave Zabriskie. The self-styled wacky man of pro cycling, and owner, founder, chairman and product developer of DZ Nuts chamois cream reckons it was all down to him.

>>>Watch Dave Zabriskie’s internet advert for his chamois cream

?I offered Cavendish a hefty bonus yesterday if he dedicated the win. I don?t know if you noticed his victory salute,” Zabriskie said after being asked how DZ nuts were holding up. “So I had to give him a large wad of cash and a couple of packs.?

Now we know. So come on Levi, step up to the plate and beat that.

Mark Cavendish celebrates Tour of California winJust what exactly is Cav trying to draw our attention too? Picture by Graham Watson.



Stage five: Two in a row for Cavendish

Stage four: Cavendish battles over hills to wins stage

Stage three: Hushovd sprints home

Stage two: Leipheimer takes the lead

Stage one: Mancebo’s stage one win raises Puerto demons

Prologue: Cancellara Express derails the Armstrong show


Cavendish rises to second in list of all-time British pro winners

Armstrong’s time trial bike handed in to police

Boonen set to ride Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne after Tour of California

Cancellara abandons Tour of California

Armstrong’s bike stolen in California

Cavendish poised to take leaders jersey

Tour of California blog

Armstrong and Astana train for Tour of California

Mark Cavendish: Rider Profile

Lance Armstrong: Rider Profile


Stage five photo gallery

Stage four photo gallery

Stage three photo gallery

Stage two photo gallery

Stage one photo gallery

Prologue photo gallery

Cycling Weekly photo gallery


2009 Tour of California race preview

Start list: all the riders

Team list: all the squads


Saturday, February 14 Prologue details

Sunday, February 15 Stage one details

Monday, February 16 Stage two details

Tuesday, February 17 Stage three details

Wednesday, February 18 Stage four details

Thursday February 19 Stage five details

Friday, February 20 Stage six details

Saturday, February 21 Stage seven details

Sunday, February 22 Stage eight details


Tour of California official website