Eki Speaks: Tour of California Through Stage 3
- Cathy Mehl talks to Astana Assistant Director Viatchslev Ekimov

Eki, I saw you at dinner Tuesday night and asked if you had a plan for Stage Three. You told me you always have a plan, it just depends on if you get to use it! Levi took the race lead today, let's talk about the plan now...

"Actually it was a very good plan and fortunately it worked," said the Astana Director. "We knew that the entire peloton knew we'd be racing hard, that we came here with the defending champion and we wanted to win. So it was time for us to ride at the front. We divided up equal time for each of the guys to work. We started with Kemps and Ivanov on the first climb, then Mizourov on the second. The main work of course was done on the big climb to Mt. Hamilton where Horner, Gusev and Brajkovic were there and of course Chechu. Chechu is the man of the day. He just sat there all day long. It was nice to see Chechu all day (by the lead car, with Eki driving). The memory of that will stay in my heart."

"What occurred to me today was that I was seeing a piece of history: from the US Postal team, to Discovery Channel team, and now to Team Astana. I think it bears well for the new team. The guys are picking up speed now and the language problems are getting better."

Did anything about today surprise you?

"When I saw CSC was just sitting in the wheels I knew they did not have a plan, so I told everyone it was time to go."

Did you hope for a bigger time gap?

"Well, it is what it is. The bigger the gap the better, but 13 seconds or 19 seconds, I can say that is better than nothing. To have 13 seconds over Cancellara and to go last in the time trial will be an advantage for Levi on Friday."

How was Levi feeling afterwards?

"He was feeling good. He's in real good shape and I know he's feeling motivated which is why we've built the team tactics just around him. And he's responded very well to the team. He feels good."

We've been hearing that some guys in the peloton are getting sick. Is everyone feeling good right now?

"Yeah, everyone is good, just a little tired. But we have a strong team and we can control the race. I am really proud of them. I am proud of ALL of my guys!"

A real team effort as the boys are lined up for Levi