Photos and my random observations on Sunday’s finish in Sacramento at the Amgen Tour of California.
The crowds were huge and amazing enthusiastic. There was a ton of energy both for the earlier Grand Prix races and for the AToC riders when they came through. Andrew Messick (of AEG — the company that organizes the Amgen Tour of California) says they were easily the largest he’s ever seen in America, and it’s even larger than crowds he’s seen at some European races.
The national sports media are out here in force. I’m sitting next to a writer for the LA Times and another from the New York Times, both of whom are covering the race for their respective newspapers. The media center is the busiest I’ve ever seen for any bike race. The finish line media bullpen was a madhouse — every man for himself.
JJ Haedo said he was in the race to win today’s stage, and he confided that Mark Cavendish was the man to beat. “Beating Mark Cavendish is not as easy as it looks on TV,” quips Haedo.
Mark Cavendish has a very quick wit, even after pushing himself to exhaustion in a bike race. He saw my copy of his book Boy Racer at my feet and motioned for me to give it to him. He held it up during the rest of the press conference, to everybody’s delight.
I asked Cav if the decision to race here vs Italy this week was difficult. He gave a magnaminious answer, saying he liked to race in both places and that he wouldn’t regret the decision whichever place he raced. “I have a good fan base in Italy,” he says, “and I have a good fan base in America. I like racing here.”
You’ve likely heard of the five man crash near the end of the race. Rumor is a rider hit a motorcycle, and then the chain reaction brought several others down. As of this writing, the medical people say the riders “just” have bad road rash and they’re all expected to continue racing this week.