Sunday, February 17, 2008

Get on Your Bikes and Ride

The starting gate for today’s time-trial Prologue of the Tour of California was right in front of Palo Alto’s City Hall. The gent on the left is counting down the seconds before this rider from Team Astana (Ivanov? Kemps?) launches down the ramp and hits the road.

The course ran down Hamilton Avenue to Cowper, took a sharp left to University Avenue, then doubled back up University toward Stanford. Here Dmytro Grabovskyy of QuickStep hustles past the Stanford Theater, which was refurbished several years ago by David Packard (son of the famous founder of Hewlett-Packard) and now features classic films with cartoons, newsreels, and a mighty Wurlitzer organ. (Grabovskyy finished 19th in a field of 132 riders—not bad!)

Bobby Julich, whom we had seen a few minutes before as he wheeled off to the start line, hammers toward El Camino Real.

Rabobank’s Paul Martens pushes along under Alma Street and the CalTrain railroad tracks.

Bradley Wiggins comes up from the underpass on his way to an impressive second-place finish.

Rory Sutherland of HealthNet strains every muscle for the stopwatch.

I’m all for any team sponsored by Jelly Belly. Here their Matthew Rice strokes up Palm Drive toward the Oval and the finish in front of the Stanford Quad.

Not to be outdone by snack foods, Chipotle Mexican Grill had to field a team, and they got David Millar on board. (Technically it’s Team Slipstream, powered by Chipotle. Whatevs.) He’s quite good. He’s another guy who’s worn one of those little yellow shirts the French dole out on certain days in July. And in this picture he’s wearing the jersey he won as the 2007 British National Road Race Champion. He finished ninth today, eight seconds behind the winner.

Slipstream, by the way, had four of the top 10 riders today, and five of the team’s eight riders finished in the top 15. Not bad.

QuickStep’s Paolo Bettini, gold medal winner from the 2004 Athens Olympics, 2006 and 2007 World Road Race Champion, 3-time champion of the UCI Road World Cup series (2002, 2003, 2004). Also has won stages of the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España—the big three annual national cycling ordeals. The big teams aren’t sending their B-list riders to the Tour of California.

Antonio Cruz rides across Stanford campus, this year for BMC. Last year he rode on Discovery’s team, together with George and Levi and Alberto and that whole crowd.

Watch this guy closely. Fabian Cancellara is about to win today’s Prologue, covering 2.1 miles in 3:51. (For me, that’s a good average time to cover a mile.) He’s a two-time World Time Trial Champion, and he’s wearing the jersey to signify it.

By winning the Prologue, Mr. Cancellara became the first non-U.S. rider ever to wear the leader’s “Gold Jersey.”

George Hincapie started second to last (the honor of the final start position went to Santa Rosa’s Levi Leipheimer, who won the Tour of California last year). He came in only 10 seconds behind Cancellara today, which a rider like George can pretty easily make up for over the next week. His team—High Road—also did fine, with Bradley Wiggins taking second overall. Three of High Road’s eight riders finished in the top 10 places, and five in the top 15, leaving the team in first place overall right now.


Andrew Shields said...

Go Swiss guy! :-)

He's not just Swiss, but from just outside Basel, that Cancellara fellow.

Kangamoo said...

Wow what a day of cycling fun. Well it would be fun for me watching. I like riding a bike too, but not that fast. Good thing I ride with small (well maybe medium) children. I would much rather watch.