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Tour of California: Levi Leipheimer Gains Strong Lead, Race Gets Local to LA

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Feeling like the winner already? Maybe this is a three fingered salute | Photo by ChuckThePhotographer via Flickr
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Two-time defending champion of the Tour of California, Levi Leipheimer won Friday's 15-mile time trial from Solvang through the Santa Ynez Valley and back, helping inching him closer to a third victory. Now in a lead of 36 seconds, all eyes are on him.

"Now, any assault on Leipheimer over the tour’s final two days will have to be undertaken against the entire Astana team, which has Lance Armstrong among its stable of support riders to protect Leipheimer," said the New York Times.

Today's race from Santa Clarita to Pasadena's Rose Bowl will prove to be a tough one at 88 miles in length and climbing over the San Gabriel Mountains in the Angeles National Forest (it begins at noon and find more info about our local race here). On Sunday, the finale, the 96 mile leg climbs 11.7 miles with 21 switchbacks to to the top of Mount Palomar at an elevation of 5,123 feet.