Thursday, February 19, 2009


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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tour of California Stage 2: Awards Etc.

Here's the scene after the race.

A small part of the crowd watching the awards at the finish line. I managed to squeeze my way up pretty close on the right side of the stage.

Cycling TV personality Bob Roll looking perturbed about something.

Close to far, Francisco Mancebo (KOM leader, sprint leader), Robert Gesink (best young rider), Levi Leipheimer (overall tour leader), and Ben Jacques-Maynes (most courageous rider).

Jacques-Maynes giving an interview.

Levi wondering where his wallet has gotten to, or something.

Levi: "Do I really have to go up on stage again for the fourth time today? Well at least I get kissed by you for winning."

1st (Thomas Peterson), 2nd (Levi Leipheimer), and 3rd place (Michael Rogers) for the day's stage.

Stage winner/babyface Thomas Peterson.

Peterson getting interviewed on Versus.

Lance Armstrong's race bike surrounded by other Astana team bikes.

Peterson eating pasta after the press conference.

Tour of California Stage 2: The Finish

After hitting some slow-moving traffic on highway 17 into Santa Cruz for what looked to be a minor landslide (yeah, it had been raining that much), I made it to the finish with a bit of time to spare. Here's some pictures from the finish.

What's everybody looking at?

Oh, we're watching the race on the bigscreen.

I found a spot right on the railing about 250 meters from the finish line. Then we had an instantaneous downpour.

Perfect spot to watch the finishers come in.

Oh sweet, we instantly moved 50 meters closer to the finish! The signs were set up wrong.

They should be here any minute. I've got a lot of people's attention because I'm following Twitter updates and can announce Levi rode away and caught the break and should be coming in first.

And sure enough, Levi coming through first, with Thomas Peterson on his wheel.

Levi knew Peterson was going to take the win on this one by coming around at the last minute, but he wasn't concerned with the stage win - he just wanted to be in the overall leader's jersey at the end of the day.

Best shot of Levi (Leipheimer, that is) on the day.

Headed for the line.

Barely 20 seconds later, the first chase group comes in.

This group is led by David Zabrieski.

Lance Armstrong, another Astana rider, and Kim Kirchen a little further back.

Robert Gesink from Rabobank right in the middle of this one.

Frank Schleck, Grisha Niermann, Astana rider on what must be a backup bike (no race #), and Ivan Basso.

Second chase group comes in.

Floyd Landis (far) and Gustav Larsson.

The remaining riders came in scattered groups, with the remnants of the peleton 17 minuted behind the leaders. Definitely a brutal day on the bike.

Still to come, the awards ceremony and some other odds and ends:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tour of California Stage 2: The Morning

Here's some shots from the morning on Tunitas Creek Road, the day's first big climb. The pictures are in chronological order, so if you're not particularly familiar with pro bike racing, this will give you an idea of just how much race support there is. It almost seems there is a car/truck/motorcycle for just about every rider in the race.

The KOM (King of the Mountains) point at the top of the climb - points are awarded to the first riders up the climb on each major climb, the overall points leader is the King of the Mountains. Where is everybody?

Did I mention it was raining rather hard?

A good hour before the race comes through, the support vehicles and team cars start going by. here's a Jelly Belly team car.

This is about as crowded as I thought the climb would be. You'll soon see how mistaken I was.

Motorcycles showing up... race must be close.

Hmmm... we've got a bit of a crowd.

Car with speakers blasting the race announcer... now the race has to be really close.

Police cars trying to keep everyone back to give riders some room. One of them came over his loudspeaker and said something to the effect of "Watch out, I don't drive very well!" to the amusment of all.

TV Motorcycle.. they've got to be coming around the bend!

Sure enough, there they are. This was a 10 man break several minutes ahead at this point.

An interesting flash hit off someone else's camera.

Stephen Cozza leading the break.

Grisha Niermann (right) and Thomas Peterson (the day's eventual stage winner) in the break.

Then come the break's support cars. Here's Garmin Slipstream.

Team OUCH (yeah, plenty of jokes to be made there) team car.

And of course, one of the famous Mavic neutral support cars.

Several minutes later, here comes the peleton.

The peleton led by Tyler Hamilton and other members of Rock Racing.

The majority of the 130 odd racers were in this group.

Including none other than Mellow Johnny on the wheel of one Levi Leipheimer.

The pictures almost make it seem like they just keep coming, but the entire large group passed in well under 30 seconds. Probably closer to 15.

Then began the groups chasing to get back with the group. Riders may have crashed, had flats, gone back to team cars, be lousy hill climbers, etc. so teams will drop back to help their riders get back in contact with the peleton. Here's crazy strong sprinter Mark Cavendish getting hauled up the hill by teammates.

Then comes the race director. If you're behind the race director, you just might be in trouble.

Followed by more team cars - such as Team Columbia's.

Cervelo Test Team.

And Rock Racing.

Then come the stragglers.

Brett Lancaster has a bike I'm envious of, but I'm not envious of his position riding in cold, wet, windy conditions trying to catch the main field.

Then I headed back up the hill in a hurry to get back to the car, but not so much of a hurry that I couldn't stop to get a picture of just how many people lined the course.

Oh wait, more stragglers! The course and conditions resulted in a lot of riders slipping off the back of the race.

And the last rider up the hill, followed by probably another twenty vehicles, including a "sweeper" van that was denoted with handbrooms attached to the front.

Everyone waiting around wondering if anything else is coming up the hill. Didn't you see the sweeper van?

The footrace back through the mass of cars began my journey to Santa Cruz.

And in case you missed it, Mellow Johnny is Lance Armstrong's nickname. Better take another look, huh?