Levi Leipheimer is one of the most straightforward people I know. As a ski racer, as a pro cyclist, as a champion of animal rights, he’s a good person.
So why is it that the good people always get screwed over?
I say this because he signed a contract to race for Discovery Channel cycling in 2007. He was likely told that he would be the team leader for all Grand Tour events, such as the Tour de France. Levi had to be psyched: he could ride a leader for a team with remarkable depth, and was likely to be a full-on podium threat. He passed on offers from other top cycling teams to ride with Lance Armstrong’s old squad.
Yet two months later, Discovery Channel hired a new top-gun to lead their team: Ivan Basso, who won the 2006 Giro d’Italia before being implicated in the OperaciÃ³n Puerto doping case. This cost Basso the chance to ride in the 2006 Tour de France.
While Basso is one of the best cyclists in the world, so is Levi – and Team Discovery screwed him.
Then news broke on Friday that Discovery Channel Cycling will not be granted a ProTour license for 2007, which gets rid of Discovery’s automatic entry into all ProTour events – including the Giro, the Tour, the Vuelta and many, many other prestigious cycling events. The reason? Because Discovery signed Basso to their squad.
So Levi’s been screwed twice in the span of two months.
If I were him, I’d ask to be released from Team Discovery and sign with another top team, such as Team CSC, T-Mobile or Rabobank.
And if that wasn’t possible, I’d sue. Levi deserves better.