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?


  1. I like the dude standing next to Lance with his camera phone! Camera phones only get in the way of real cameras!

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