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Cyclist with Utah ties takes bronze in time trial

Cyclist with Utah ties takes bronze in time trial

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(AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

Nearing the end of the first week of the Summer Olympics, Utah has its first medal of the 2008 Games.

The world-renown riders with Utah ties were featured in the Men's Olympic Time Trial. Salt Lake City's Dave Zabriskie struggled a bit, but Rowland Hall graduate Levi Leipheimer rolled to the bronze.

This Olympic Time Trial event was unusually grueling: 29 miles up and down a torturously hilly course near The Great Wall.

Leipheimer took up cycling at Rowland Hall and went to Utah briefly. Levi is one of only four Americans to ever win a stage at the Tour de France. But he was barred from this year's tour, a controversial decision that left him devastated. So Levi returned home to his roots, training around the Wasatch Front for the past month, and it paid off with a Beijing bronze.

"It's a dream come true to get a medal in the Olympics. I'm overwhelmed. You know, not being in the Tour de France, it really motivated me to prepare as hard as I could. I trained as hard as I could. I went to altitude and I just told myself to suffer. I really made myself hurt, and it paid off," he said.

"I think the first Olympics, I got to experience the Olympic spirit and it was a bit overwhelming. This time I was a bit more confident and much more focused. It's a dream come true to get a medal," he added.

Zabriskie is also a Tour de France veteran, multiple-stage winner and holds the Tour de France record for the fastest time trial, beating Lance Armstrong by two seconds back in 2005. But Zabriskie didn't have it in this Olympic Time Trial. He came in 12th.

"Mentally I felt more focused than ever. No nervousness, just really concentrated. I threw up when I crossed the finish line. I don't think I could go any harder than that," he said.

He's obviously disappointed, but Dave's looking forward to coming home to Utah. Zabriskie won't talk about it, but he's still not 100 percent. Injury issues still are dogging him.

But after a disappointing performance in the Olympic road race last weekend, this feels great for Levi.

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Tom Kirkland


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