Monday, February 20, 2006
The Amgen Tour of California officially began yesterday with a short individual time trial in San Francisco. I'm excited about this for a couple of reasons. First, this represents a turning point in the American public's relationship with pro cycling. For the last 7 years everything has been dominated by a certain Mr. Armstrong as far as most Americans are concerned. And while it's true that he won the TdF 7 times in a row, there's more to racing than just the TdF. This race is interesting because it's based here in the U.S. which, on paper, will make it more easily digestable to the average person. It will be interesting to see if cycling catches on as a sport or if interest will completely fade now that a certain cancer survivor has left the sport.
Another reason I'm excited about this stage of the race is that I've actually ridden my bike on the same roads! Last fall we took a trip to San Fran and the Mrs. and I rented bikes for a day. We rode across the Golden Gate bridge and then took the ferry back from Sausalito. The ferry dropped us at Pier 39 so we rode our bikes up the Embarcadero and then sort of floundered around until we got up to Coit Tower. If I remember correctly we sort of made our way along Alta Street after turning off at Lombard and backtracking a bit. The big boys have the advantage of the street being closed and are cruising right up Telegraph Hill Blvd. Had we tried that I think we would have been flattened by one of the many busses that haul tourists up and down the hill all day.
The prologue was 1.9 miles, and these guys finished it in about 5 minutes. Impressive, considering the size of Telegraph Hill. I think it took us about 5 minutes to walk our bikes up one block on some of the steeper portions. If you look at the top 5 finishers, it was a good day for US cycling:
1. 31 USA 19731024 LEIPHEIMER Levi GST .04'53"
2. 2 USA 19711118 JULICH Bobby CSC .04'58" 5"
3. 57 USA 19730629 HINCAPIE George DSC .04'59" 6"
4. 11 USA 19751014 LANDIS Floyd PHO .04'59" ...
5. 9 USA 19790112 ZABRISKIE David CSC .05'02" 9"
ESPN2 (or as the kids are calling it, The Deuce) is covering the race at 10:00 nightly, PST. Google is offering video somewhere, but I couldn't find it. And no official outlet appears to be publishing still photos. But I did manage to find some great shots of the race on flickr. Ken Conley got some great shots. Here's a montage he made of Tom Danielson passing a rider as they approach the finish line:
Frank Chan seems to have some sort of behind the scenes access. He's got plenty of shots of the riders warming up on their trainers. He's also got this beauty with that signature "pointy building" in the background:
And for my male (or lesbian) readers, Frank's photo of the Specialized Angel:
And finally, a guy who just refers to himself as Zoobazz. Odd name, good pictures.
Visit these guys on flickr and see hundreds more. Great work by all three. And set those VCRs (no Tivo? how quaint!) for midnight on the deuce and catch all the highlights.