Johan Bruyneel on the 2011 Fan Choice Awards:
This is the third year where we gave fans the opportunity to vote for the most outstanding riders and performances from the season. When the idea was initially presented to me a few years ago, I was a bit unsure if that was something we should do. Our whole focus is about the team; something that singles out one rider would seem to go against our philosophy. I was convinced by some of our staff that this is something fun for the fans to participate in and that teams in other sports also give their fans the same or similar opportunities. So while I agree it's fun for many and nice for the riders who have been nominated and won, I want to re-emphasize that the success of our team does not lie on the shoulders of one rider. In fact, it goes beyond the riders - it extends to directors, mechanics, soigneurs, the entire support staff, our dedicated sponsors and of course, the loyal fans who have followed from USPS to Discovery Channel to Astana to RadioShack. I hope that many will come along with us on our new and exciting journey in 2012. Thank you - Johan
Johan Bruyneel on the 2011 Best Tweeter:
Twitter is not a requirement for team riders, so it's nice to see that so many take it upon themselves to interact with fans. The nominees were a select group of riders that we think are doing a nice job of tweeting. It is by no means a complete list. I think many have done a very nice job in showing the fans a glimpse of their personal and professional life, as well as sharing their opinions and views.
The fans have chosen Levi Leipheimer as the 2011 Best Tweeter. I remember when Levi, with some hesitation, joined Twitter around the 2009 Tour of California. It is safe to say that he has fully embraced it, using it as a way to thank fans and teammates after a victory, communicate with enthusiasts about his Gran Fondo, and show his love for animals. His 125,000 followers speak to why he is very deserving of this honor. Congratulations Levi.
Interview with Levi Leipheimer (winner of the signed jersey posted after the interview)
by JohanBruyneel.com Staff
Q: You haven't raced for a couple months so what have you been up to in the off-season? Also what are your plans for Thanksgiving and the holidays?
LL: Well my training has already started up. Nothing intense, just very light. But other than that, I've been really really busy. I've been traveling a lot and supporting a lot of different causes. We had my Gran Fondo and then I was in Maine for Patrick's ride, the Dempsey Challenge. Then I was down in Austin for the LIVESTRONG Challenge. And then I went back to Butte Montana, where I grew up, to see my family. I've also been woking on the documentary.
For Thanksgiving and Christmas, we'll stay at home. I travel so much during the year that any chance to stay at home is very much welcomed.
Q: Tell us a little more about this documentary.
LL: It's something that we've been working on for a little over a year. We're trying to capture a lot of different aspects from my life and things that matter the most to me. Of course my cycling career, but it's also about the Gran Fondo and how that came about and the history of cycling in Sonoma County. Hopefully it will give a pretty good on-the-bike and off-the-bike glimpse into my life. I'm very excited about it and am looking forward to the premiere at the 2012 Gran Fondo.
Q: Your Gran Fondo has had a lot of great success. What do you see next?
LL: Yes, it's been amazing. And we have a long-term vision for it. My goal is to wake up one day and say that it's the 25th annual Gran Fondo. And I truly believe that it's very possible. We have a great team organizing it in Bike Monkey. They are local and passionate cycling enthusiasts who also do other cycling related events and publish a magazine. The community has been extremely supportive. Sonoma County, the police, we have 1,000 volunteers. It's great to see everyone come together and support it. There's a lot of work involved, but also a lot of great benefits and fun.
I should also mention that we don't only get people participating from Sonoma County. We've had people come from all over the US and internationally as well. It's pretty awesome to see everyone gather together because of their love for riding bikes and supporting great causes.
Q: The fans have voted you as the Best Tweeter (@LeviLeipheimer) in 2011. What's been your philosophy when it comes to tweeting?
LL: I'm actually glad to hear that people are interested in my tweets. I'm not the type of guy that's going to tweet where I am every minute of the day. I try to pass along important information. I don't like to tweet about mundane things so I try to focus on what's interesting or retweet others that have interesting things to share.
Q: Who are your type 5 recommendations for people to follow?
Well let's start with a handle that's informative: @NPR
@leeapplbaum is the RadioShack CMO and he writes very intelligent tweets and passes along a lot of useful info.
My friend @gregmfisher, who works for Bike Monkey. He does a lot with @levisgranfondo. He's very witty so those two handles provide humor.
I"ll give props to @fatcyclist. Well because he's Fatty. Enough said.
And then one for the cycling advocates: @peopleforbikes
Q: Since your wife, Odessa, is not on Twitter, tell us what she's been up to?
LL: She's doing well. She works hard on the Gran Fondo. Her passion is also Forget Me Not Farm which is a therapy farm for at-risk children. It's pretty amazing to see how children can progress and improve in that setting with animals. She's always had a great bond with animals and has been volunteering there for years.
Q: And I know you have a lot of animals of your own. How many animals are currently on your property?
LL: I think we have 22 pets now. Let's see … dogs, cats, horses, goats, rabbits and a pig.
Q: Santa Rosa will be the start city of this year's Amgen Tour of California. I know that's been very special for you and something you have been very involved with.
LL: Well Santa Rosa has a history with the Coors Classic. And when the Amgen Tour of California was announced in 2005, Santa Rosa was willing and enthusiastic to be a host city. AEG and Medalist Sports have said that Santa Rosa is the gold standard when it comes to hosting the race. The people and community give 100% support. So for us to get the overall start is just huge. This year it will be the hub of the entire race. You'll have some teams and support staff that will arrive maybe a week before the race starts so it's going to be nice for Santa Rosa and nice for the people to showcase what a great town it is. I'm really looking forward to it and I know Santa Rosa will do a fantastic job.
As far as my involvement. I've tried to help out any way I can. Whether it be Jim Birrrell from Medalist Sports or AEG, I try to do whatever I can to assist them. It's very important to me that the race continues and is successful.
Getting to Know More about Levi
Favorite Vacation Spot: Without a doubt - home.
Gift most desired during the holidays: I'm 38 so I realize the importance of health. So that's my wish for myself, friends and family. It may sound cliche, but it's true.
Favorite Animal: Dog
If you weren't a cyclist ...: You know, I've had that question asked numerous times throughout my career and I'm not really sure. I haven't wasted any energy really thinking about it. Cycling is my passion so I've really only been focused on that.
Number one piece of advice to an up and coming cyclist: Learn to love it. Like anything you want in life. It's very difficult to succeed if you don't love it.
Is this your Facebook profile picture? Then you're a winner! You're a fan of Johan's Facebook page, you voted in the 2011 Fan Choice Awards and you have been randomly chosen to win a signed jersey. Congratulations!
2011 Fan Choice Award Winners