Resignation and sadness greeted hometown cycling hero Levi Leipheimer's admission that for almost a decade he used illegal performance-enhancing drugs to race in the sport's top echelons.
"It's tragic anytime a professional athlete cheats to win, and that's really what we're talking about here," said Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Shirlee Zane, a cycling enthusiast.
Leipheimer and other top cyclists who raced with seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong admitted in affidavits that they used banned substances as part of a sophisticated doping program managed and coordinated by Armstrong and team managers.
Levi Leipheimer of Santa Rosa was supported in his Tour of California win by seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, left, and Team Astana. Levi and Lance were both members of Team Astana in the 2009 Tour de France, but Levi had to drop out after a fall in the 12th stage. Kent Porter / Press Democrat
Levy Leipheimer, of Butte, Mont., of the Dutch Rabobank cycling team, prepares to leave the Tour de France press center for a training session in Luxembourg, ahead of the Tour de France cycling race, Friday, July 5, 2002. The 21-stage Tour will start in Luxembourg on Saturday July 6, 2002, and end in Paris on July 28. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Levi Leipheimer, of Butte, Mont., speeds during the third stage, a 46.5- kilometer (29 mile) individual time trial, in the Dauphine Libere cycling race around Roanne, central France, Wednesday, June 8, 2005. Leipheimer finished second to take the overall leader yellow jersey. (AP Photo/Patrick Gardin)
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Santa Rosa's Levi Leipheimer stand together after the prologue of the 2009 Tour of California in Sacramento on Saturday. Leipheimer finished second in the prologue. Kent Porter / Press Democrat
Rabobank rider Levi Leipheimer of the U.S. jokes with a hat prior to the 11th stage of the Tour de France cycling race between Saint-Flour and Figeac, central France, Thursday, July 15, 2004. David Moncoutie of France won the stage, Thomas Voeckler of France retains the overall lead. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
Santa Rosa's Levi Leipheimer places second in the Tour of California's prologue in Sacramento, Saturday February 14, 2009. Kent Porter / Press Democrat
Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong of the United States, right, rides with his American teammate Levi Leipheimer in Monaco Thursday July 2, 2009, ahead of the start of the 96th edition of the Tour de France cycling race Saturday July 4, 2009. (AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski)
Levi Leipheimer is congratulated in Santa Rosa as he maintains the overall lead during the Tour of California, in February 2009. He won the tour for the 3rd straight year. (Kent Porter / The Press Democr
American Levi Leipheimer strains as he passes Monaco's Casino during the first stage of the Tour de France cycling race, an individual time trial of 15.5 kilometers (9.63 miles) with start and finish in Moncao, Saturday July 4, 2009. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Astana teammates Andreas Kloden of Germany, American Levi Leipheimer, American seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, and Alberto Contador of Spain, from left to right, climb towards Col de Port , France, during the 8th stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 176.5 kilometers (109.7 miles) with start in Andorra and finish in Saint-Girons, France, Saturday July 11, 2009. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
American Levi Leipheimer, his right arm in a cast following a crash in the 12th stage, walks away prior to the start of the 13th stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 200 kilometers (124.3 miles) with start in Vittel and finish in Colmar, central France, Friday July 17, 2009. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
American Levi Leipheimer reacts prior to the start of the 12th stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 211.5 kilometers (131.5 miles) with start in Tonnere and finish in Vittel, central France, Thursday July 16, 2009. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
To those who admired Leipheimer "totally," as did Gus Greenstein, a founder of the Caravaners cycling club at Santa Rosa's Maria Carrillo High School, the news was deflating. Club members rode with Leipheimer last year.
"It makes me wonder if I'd want the Caravaners to continue that relationship," said Greenstein, who now is a junior at Amherst College but remains involved in the club.
The many questions raised by the Leipheimer's admission include what the implications might be for the county's two premiere cycling events, The Amgen Tour of California and Levi's GranFondo charity ride, both of which he helped orchestrate.
Officials involved with both events said they were bigger now than simply Leipheimer, who founded the GranFondo and lobbied for the tour's Sonoma County stage, which together pump millions of dollars into the local economy and also boost the county's profile.
"Levi's icing on the cake, but the event itself is so amazing and I would hope and I trust that that wouldn't change," said Raissa de la Rosa, Santa Rosa's economic development specialist, who spearheads the local organizing effort for the Amgen tour.
As for the GranFondo, she said: "People are coming to ride for the experience, and it is not about someone; it's about something."
Leipheimer's personal explanation of his doping that was published Wednesday by the Wall Street Journal will aid the cyclist's cause, she added, because it "carried with it some dignity in that he's really turning the page."