After putting in the time trial of his career, and winning his first ever stage in the Tour, Levi can be happy for his 3rd place finish in the overall classification. But could he have finished in second if the Tour commissaires had decided on two things a little differently? First was the 3 second time gap in yesterday's stage during the bunch sprint when Tom Boonen solidified his hold on the sprinter's jersey by racing for fifth place. Cadel Evans finished in the same time as those sprinters vying for points, but the judges decided there was a 3 second gap between them and the rest of the peloton. Alberto Contador and Levi Leipheimer lost those 3 seconds to the Australian in second place overall.
When the top three riders are only separated by 31 seconds after the time trial, those 3 seconds seem important, which leads to the second judgment against the Discovery Channel boys. Levi could have been in second if he had not been penalized 10 seconds during a mountain stage. Evans finishes the Tour only 8 seconds faster than Leipheimer, and those ten seconds would mean that Levi would be in 2nd place, only 21 seconds behind Contador. I think it was a gamble Bruyneel had to take, because if Levi had not taken the "bidon (bottle) pull", he could have finished 40 or more seconds behind the leaders, including Evans, on that particular stage, so talking about those ten seconds is really a moot point. More importantly, Levi got a 12 second time bonus when he finished 2nd behind Rasmussen on the last mountain stage, and Contador took the 8 second bonus away from Evans, who finished 4th. Unfortunately, because Rasmussen was dismissed from the Tour without any positive doping violations, Levi and Contador do not get recalculated time bonuses, unlike the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place finishers behind Alexandre Vinokourov's mountain stage win. Still, it's fun to think about all these what-if scenarios.
Incidently, Vinokourov's B sample came back positive for blood doping, but he intends to fight the charges, already retaining the services of Floyd Landis' attorneys in his respective arbitration hearing. Vino's lieutenant, Andreas Klöden, still believes in his captain's innocence, and even in his other teammate Matthias Kessler, who had a positive test for testosterone come back with a T/E ratio of 85 to 1, because he does not believe they would be so stupid, especially in Vino's case, to dope during this hysterical climate of anti-doping scrutiny. He is considering retiring because he does not want to get caught up in the current witch hunt, actually worrying about someone spiking his food.