Levi talks Zipp, wheel choice for time trials
Levi Leipheimer loves the tech-side of cycling, and so do we. So as Levi makes his debut with the Zipp-equipped Omega Pharma® – Quick Step® team at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina, we wanted to share with you a recent chat we had with the American star:
Zipp: Have you had a chance to ride Zipp Firecrest® wheels yet? Any first reactions?
Levi: I have ridden the 808 Firecrest in a few time trials… including the Vail Pass TT in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Without getting into too much detail yet, my first reaction was “this wheel is wicked fast!”
Zipp: Considering your relationship with SRAM®, what does it mean to now extend that to Zipp for wheels, bars, stems and seatposts? Are you the type of rider who loves to get “techie,” provide feedback to get your equipment as dialed in as possible?
Levi: I love to get “techie.” I am a bike and tech fanatic. I have to have all my bikes in perfect working condition as well as have the best and latest components and wheels. I prefer to train on the best equipment because I push myself and measure myself all the time, and I like to train on a near race setup for the feeling of the bike as well. I have already studied the full line of Zipp wheels, bars, stems and seatposts and I can't wait to try them.
Zipp: What are your thoughts on the options created by having a full line of Zipp wheels for all forms of racing? This would include the 202 for climbing, the 303 and 404 Firecrests as versatile race wheels (or possibly a 404/808 Firecest combo), as well as the 808 Firecrest and discs for time trials.
Levi: It’s clear that we will have a full quiver of wheels to choose from depending on the amount of climbing and wind conditions. We can really analyze all these factors and choose the absolute best option for the day whether that requires light weight for the big mountains or deep aero wheels that carry momentum and slice through the wind. We can gain critical seconds and save vital energy with so many Zipp wheels to choose from.
Zipp: As a lighter rider who is focused on time trials, what are your thoughts on the Firecrest shape and the stability it provides? Do you foresee possibly being able to ride deeper-section wheels in windier conditions because of the Firecrest design?
Levi: I have always had trouble controlling a deep section front wheel when the wind really kicks up as I'm light and have a very narrow aero position. The second thing I noticed about the 808 Firecrest after how fast it rolled along is how it seemed to remain stable and hold a straight line in strong crosswinds. I normally would downgrade my front wheel depth-wise in those conditions but I found myself using the 808 in high-wind situations and being able to control my bike just fine.
Zipp: How crucial is it to have the best (for speed, stability, durability) equipment in the peloton? Does having the right equipment rank up there with other key forms of race preparation… diet, training, strategy?
Levi: Having the right equipment is absolutely crucial and was even one of the most important factors for joining Omega Pharma® -- Quick-Step®. Being able to ride Specialized, SRAM and Zipp has me excited for the next two years and I can’t wait to get my new bike and start riding fast! Having the best equipment is as important as training, diet and strategy.
Zipp: You’ve raced for a long time, accomplished a lot, and still have big goals. What excites you most about riding Zipp at this point in your career?
Levi: I love the bicycle. I have a wall in my garage lined with mountain bikes, cross bikes, road bikes and TT bikes. These bikes are the tools of my trade and riding a bike is what makes me who I am. Riding the absolute best and fastest equipment makes me happy, it’s as simple as that.