Dauphine Libere 2008 Levi Leipheimer
(Image credit: LUC CLAESSEN)

Just one second down on Britain?s Bradley Wiggins in the 2007 Dauphine prologue, this time round Levi Leipheimer (Astana) was the fastest - by the same margin.

Second behind the American national road-race champion and 2006 Dauphine Libere winner was Norway?s Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole). Third - and showing strong form in his build-up to the summer - was Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Caisse D?Epargne), just six seconds back.

?I?m a lot stronger than I was this time last year.? Leipheimer said. ?Last year I was coming back from a long break after the Ardennes Classics, this time I?ve just done the Giro.?

?In the Tour of Italy, I was effectively training for this race. Ever since the spring, the Tour of California.? - which Leipheimer won - ?and the Dauphine Libere have been on my calendar.?

Leipheimer said he was felt more than at home, too, on Sunday?s flat and extremely untechnical course. ?Guys like Fabian Cancellara and Hushovd are better at cornering than me. On a straight course like this, I feel I've got a better chance at doing well.

When you add to that a strong tail wind and dry roads, then I?m generally able to turn in a good ride.?

Swipe to scroll horizontally

It?s common knowledge that Astana are not doing the Tour de France. So, Leipheimer explained, the Kazakh squad are determined to go all out in every other race they can take part in.

?We want to do as well as we can in all the other races. We?ve been winning all over the place, from Castille and Leon and the Tour of the Basque Country in Spain to Romandie in Switzerland to the Giro D?Italia.?

?If I can win here, I?d be more than pleased. I?m not saying I?m going to do it, but I?m certainly going to give it a good try.?

Looking ahead to the Olympics, Leipheimer will be doing both the road and the time trial. ?although it?s difficult to know how I?ll be able to train well for them without doing the Tour de France.?

For now, though, he?ll happily settle for first place again in the Dauphine - and Sunday, for him, was the ideal start.

1 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 5.7km in 06min 10 sec

2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole at 1sec

3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Caisse D?Epargne at 6sec

4 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Cofidis at 12sec

5 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) Ag2R same time

6 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto at 13sec

7 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Milram

8 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas all same time

9 Carlos Barredo (Spa) Quick Step at 14sec

10 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi same time


71 Charly Wegelius (GB) Liquigas at 28sec


Thor Hushovd was just one second behind winner Leipheimer


Cadel Evans showed he's on form with a strong sixth place


Levi Leipheimer won the prologue, can he repeat his overall win in 2006?


Belgium's Maxime Monfort in fourth


Levi Leipheimer gets to be the first person to wear the 2008 Dauphine yellow jersey

All photos by Luc Claessen/ISPA


Flat start for Dauphine Libere

Dauphine Libere 2008 preview

Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Founded in 1891, Cycling Weekly and its team of expert journalists brings cyclists in-depth reviews, extensive coverage of both professional and domestic racing, as well as fitness advice and 'brew a cuppa and put your feet up' features. Cycling Weekly serves its audience across a range of platforms, from good old-fashioned print to online journalism, and video.