BEIJING — Levi Leipheimer found bronze in the hills of China's Great Wall.

Listen to interview
7 minutes

Cycling a pair of 24-kilometer laps in the men's cycling time trials Wednesday, Leipheimer — who prepped at Salt Lake's Rowland Hall — rallied to claim the 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze medal with a third-place finish with a time of 1 hour, 3 minutes and 21.11 seconds.

"I definitely pictured it — I pictured myself on the top stop," said Leipheimer, who had returned to Utah this summer to spend three weeks training in Park City. "It's fantastic to win a medal. You hear people say 'Gold, silver, bronze' — it's all good. It's a fantastic feeling. Whether or not you win gold, silver of bronze, it's the Olympics, it's important."

Switzerland's Gustav Fabian Cancellara won the gold at 1:02:11.43, and Sweden's Gustav Larrson the silver at 1:02:44.79.

Salt Lake City resident David Zabriskie, the only other American in the event, was 12th at 1:05:17.82.

Leipheimer was in fourth after the first 10 kilometers and fourth as well after the first lap from the Juyongguan section of the Great Wall to the Badaling section and back.

He had dropped back to fifth behind Spain's Alberto Contador and Australia's Cadel Evans at the 34-kilometer split but pushed hard in the individual-oriented event to finish eight seconds ahead of Contador and 13 ahead of Evans.

"I knew I was behind Contador by a few seconds," Leipheimer said. "We had to decide on gearing. In the end, I wish I would have chosen a different gear. That's my style. I finished strong. I medaled. I'm happy — I wish I felt that strong a little earlier in the race.

Leipheimer is the first Utah athlete to win a medal at the Beijing Games.

In his late-race surge, he posted the second-fastest final split at 12:51.97 over the final 10 kilometers to earn his spot on the stand.


E-mail: [email protected]