By Yokota FritzCalifornian Levi Leipheimer wins his 3rd Amgen Tour of California Yellow Jersey - A record 2 million fans watched the race in person
After nine challenging and epic days of cycling through more than 750-miles of scenic California roads, and a thrilling fight to the finish, Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Astana was crowned champion of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California, solidifying a three-peat for the California resident. With a week-long total time of 31 hours, 28 minutes and 21 seconds, Leipheimer accepted the highly coveted title of race champion in front of massive cheering crowds in Escondido, which brought the race total to 2 million fans along the race route from Sacramento to Escondido. In a nine-day battle against the best field ever assembled to compete in the United States, which included Tour de France winners, Olympic medalists and World Champions, Frank Schleck (LUX) of Saxo Bank claimed the Stage 8 win.
“I’ve been trying to think about how to articulate this and it’s tough,” said Leipheimer. “To win it once, that was huge. To win it twice, that was almost a little bit of a surprise and almost felt like luck. But now, to have won the Amgen Tour of California three times, it’s the sweetest victory of all. I think we proved that we were the best team in the race. There is no question about that.”
David Zabriskie (USA) of Garmin-Slipstream finished in second place overall at 36 seconds behind Leipheimer, and Michael Rogers (AUS) of Team Columbia-Highroad finished third at 45 seconds behind.
In one of the most difficult stages of the 2009 race, the 96.8-mile route from Rancho Bernardo to Escondido included one sprint and four King of the Mountain (KOM) climbs, including the ‘above categorization’ ascent of Palomar Mountain, the highest point ever reached in the Amgen Tour of California at 5,123 feet. The ascent unfolded over 11.7 miles and included 21 switchbacks at an average gradient of seven percent.
The Queen stage of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California began with an early breakaway of nine riders, which was split up a half hour later. Soon after, a second breakaway formed, which included Schleck and inaugural Amgen Tour of California winner Floyd Landis (USA) of Ouch Presented by Maxxis. Chased and eventually caught by the top-three riders in the general classification, Leipheimer, Rogers and Zabriskie, the breakaway included most of the top riders in the peloton.
Lined with fans, some of which had camped out for two nights to secure their spot to watch the cyclists compete in the final day of the race, Mount Palomar made the final stage of the race an extremely challenging course. Schleck opened up a gap on the descent, but was then joined by three additional riders to make a group of four. With Lance Armstrong (USA) of Astana setting a fast pace at the front of the field, the gap began to close. After riding in the breakaway for most of the day, Schleck battled Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) of Liquigas up to the finish line to take the final stage with the roar of cheering fans in Escondido in the background.
“The riding was furious today and I said, ‘I’m just going to go for it again’,” said Schleck. “On Palomar, that is where I attacked and got up to Andy (Schleck), and then he set a really hard pace. Really, for a guy like me, it took a big effort today for sure.”
Today’s stage brought a close to the competition for the Amgen Tour of California jerseys. The Amgen Leader Jersey was awarded to Leipheimer for the third consecutive year. In addition to winning the final stage of the race, Schleck claimed Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer™ Most Courageous Rider Jersey. Mark Cavendish (GBR) of Team Columbia-Highroad retained the Herbalife Sprint Jersey and Rabobank’s Robert Gesink (NED) the Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey. Jason McCartney (USA) of Saxo Bank held onto the climbing lead to take the California Travel & Tourism Commission King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey. With a celebratory champagne fight on the awards stage, Astana claimed the overall team classification for the first time.
In addition to increased programming on VERSUS, the Amgen Tour of California Web site saw a significant increase in traffic during the 2009 race. Total visitors to the Web site topped 1.3 million in the month of February, compared to 777,000 in February 2008, and total page impressions for this month exceeded 5.1 million.
“We are enormously satisfied with the race,” said Andrew Messick, president, AEG Sports, presenter of the race. “We’ve had some epic racing, beautiful terrain and enormous crowds. The ratings for our television broadcast were up about 70 percent, we were broadcasting for twice as many hours and we were broadcast live all over the world. I think people have gotten a much closer and better perspective of the race and we hope they will return as fans next year.”
Full results, more photos, more news, more analysis and commentary from Steephill.TV.
By Yokota FritzAmgen Tour of California 2009 Stage 7 results
Fans lined the entire race course from Santa Clarita to Pasadena. Holywood celebrities joined the huge crowds of race fans in Pasadena to witness the finish to Stage 7 of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California, which included five, five-mile laps on a very demanding circuit through the area surrounding the Rose Bowl. After a challenging day of cycling, Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA) of AG2R-La Mondiale crossed the finish line to take the stage, followed closely by Hayden Roulston (NZL) of Cervelo Test Team and Pieter Weening (NED) of Rabobank. Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Astana retained the overall lead heading into the final stage of the race, which will take riders into San Diego County for the first time, as they race from Rancho Bernardo to Escondido tomorrow.
“The Rose Bowl had a ton of people on the floor today,” said Leipheimer. “When we rode in, there was so much noise from the crowd. All of the guys were really motivated by that.”
The penultimate day of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California featured the same difficult, hilly and technical terrain that was used in the final day of the 2008 race. The stage opened with a gradual 25-mile climb out of Santa Clarita, through Acton, to the intersection of Angeles Forest Road. Showcasing the breathtaking beauty of the San Gabriel Mountains, the course continued uphill to the massive Millcreek Summit, which at 4,906 ft. is the second-highest elevation ever reached in the race. The riders then headed down a 15-mile trek to Angeles Crest Highway before dropping precipitously to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Surrounded by mountains and the legendary stadium, the field concluded the stage with five challenging laps on a rolling five-mile circuit around the picturesque Rose Bowl.
Stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California began with the launch of several attacks and counter-attacks to try and get a break going. It was a day characterized by very aggressive riding that left 16 riders behind the peloton. An hour and a half into the stage, a successful attack was launched led by Saxo Bank rider Frank Schleck (LUX) and George Hincapie (USA) of Team Columbia-Highroad, along five additional riders, with Astana at the front of the peloton setting the pace for the chase.
As the riders approached the only King of the Mountain (KOM) of the stage Millcreek Summit, team managers were urged to warn their riders about the enormous crowds lining the turns on the descent. A similar warning was issued as the pack headed into the finishing circuits at the Rose Bowl, a testament to the huge crowds that have turned out to watch the race throughout the past eight days.
At 48 miles into the race, three more riders joined the break to make it 10 strong, including Chris Baldwin (USA) of Rock Racing, Pieter Weening (NED) of Rabobank, Addy Engels (NED) of Quick Step, Martin Elmiger (SUI) of AG2R-La Mondiale, Markus Zberg (SUI) of Team BMC, Christian Vande Velde (USA) of Garmin-Slipstream, Schleck, Roulston, Hincapie and Nocentini.
After a series of attacks on the final two laps, Weening, Nocentini and Roulston opened up a gap that proved to be the winning move. The trio dueled to the finish with Nocentini beating out Roulston on the line. Leipheimer retained his overall lead with 36 seconds over David Zabriskie (USA) of Garmin-Slipstream heading in the final stage of the race tomorrow.
“This was a hard stage in the beginning,” added Leipheimer. “There were a lot of attacks with riders dangerous for the overall general classification. It took a while before there was a breakaway with which we could agree.”
More Stage 7 Amgen Tour of California news, commentary, photos, video:
Stage 8 of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California will feature a KOM competition up Mount Palomar, the highest point ever reached in the Amgen Tour of California. Floyd Landis (USA) of Ouch Presented by Maxxis trains on the mountain and provided a glimpse into what the riders can expect tomorrow.
“The climb is pretty consistent and it goes from a five or six percent grade to an eight percent grade,” said Landis. “It’s as hard of a climb as you’ll find anywhere, especially at this stage in the race. After a week-long stage race, a lot of guys are tired, so the peloton will probably split up easier.”
Francisco Mancebo (ESP) of Rock Racing who was previously the KOM leader crashed late in the stage and had to abandon due to medical needs.
Stage 7 brought only two changes to the jersey leaders. Vande Velde was awarded Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer™ Most Courageous Rider Jersey. Jason McCartney (USA) of Saxo Bank claimed the California Travel & Tourism Commission King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey. Leipheimer will retain the Amgen Leader Jersey, Mark Cavendish (GBR) of Team Columbia-Highroad the Herbalife Sprint Jersey and Robert Gesink (NED) of Rabobank the Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey. Lance Armstrong is currently in sixth place overall in the GC.
I was supposed to interview Phil Southerland of Team Type 1 today. He called me early this morning before the stage start when my cell phone battery died. Aaagh! We've rescheduled for tomorrow morning, and Kristian will take a couple of photos of Phil for me.
Enthusiastic crowds turned out at the start of the race today in Visalia as race leaders Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Astana, Michael Rogers (AUS) of Team Columbia-Highroad, David Zibriskie (USA) of Garmin-Slipstream and Lance Armstrong (USA) of Astana led the peloton into Stage 5 of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California. Equally impressive crowds lined the streets in Paso Robles to witness the incredible sprint to the finish line that saw Mark Cavendish (GBR) of Team Columbia-Highroad take his second consecutive stage win in the 2009 Amgen Tour of California. Leipheimer maintained the overall lead after coming in 15th place in the longest stage of the race. Day six of the 2009 race included no King of the Mountain competitions, but two sprint competitions on a flat, fast day of racing that took the riders from Visalia to Paso Robles.
Moving into second and third overall were Rogers and Zabriskie, respectively.
“This was the day that I was planning on winning this year,” said Cavendish. “It was a hard day; harder than expected. It seems like they’ve replicated the Tour de France with the speed and the par course. It has been incredibly hard.”
Team Columbia-Highroad again delivered Cavendish to the finish line at the front, where he sprang off the lead-out wheels to win with ease. And once again it was Quick Step's Tom Boonen (BEL) who finished second in the stage, just ahead of Pedro Horrillo (ESP) of Rabobank.
“This stage win is massively important,” added Cavendish. “Any stage in the Amgen Tour of California is big. It’s big for the team, and this one is a bit more personal because it’s close to home. Every other stage is important, but this one is a bit more personal.”
Despite the apparent ease of victory for Cavendish, it was a long, hard stage for him and the rest of the field. A six-man group escaped only seven miles into the 134.3- mile route from Visalia to Paso Robles, with early attacks led by Jelly Belly's Matthew Crane (USA), who was eventually joined by Jeff Louder (USA) of Team BMC, Robert Gunn (AUS) of Fly V Australia Powered by Successful Living, Glen Chadwick (NZL) of Rock Racing and Cameron Evans (CAN) Ouch Presented by Maxxis.
Cruising through the flat San Joaquin Valley floor under sunny skies, the escapees steadily opened the gap to a maximum of eight minutes mid-way through the race, with Astana leading a steady tempo in the field. At 50 miles to go, Quick Step, Team Columbia-Highroad and Saxo Bank began sharing the load at the front, and the time differential decreased rapidly. The breakaway splintered under the pressure, with Chadwick being the last one reeled in with less than three miles to go, when Team Columbia-Highroad led Cavendish to take over.
With the sun hanging high in a flawless baby blue sky in Paso Robles, all of the top riders finished in the main group, completing a long, flat stage leading into the critical Individual Time Trial in Solvang tomorrow.
It’s going to be a big showdown tomorrow,” said two-time defending champion and overall leader Leipheimer. “You have the three-time World Champion Michael Rogers and Dave Zabriskie, the National Champion, so it will be special. I’m actually really looking forward to it. I feel good; I’ve felt great throughout the whole race. I feel pretty awesome about keeping the lead.”
There were only two changes in the jerseys today, with Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer™ Most Courageous Rider Jersey going to Matthew Crane (USA) of Jelly Belly Pro Cycling and the Herbalife Sprint Jersey going to Cavendish. The other jersey winners remain unchanged with Leipheimer in the Amgen Leader Jersey, Robert Gesink (NED) of Rabobank in the Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey and Francisco Mancebo (ESP) of Rock Racing in the California Travel & Tourism Commission King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey.
“The crowds today in Paso Robles were absolutely amazing,” said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports. “It was great to see such an enthusiastic response from a new host city. We had a great race today, and the best part is, it is still anyone’s race tomorrow. Tomorrow should prove to be a critical day for the world-class cyclists and a remarkable day for the spectators who come out to see the always popular time trial.”
A breakaway of Cameron Evans (Ouch), Pieter Weening (Rabobank), Matthew Crane (Jelly Belly) that was eight minutes in front of the peloton was caught three miles from the finish as the peloton went crazy for a chaotic sprint finish. Cervelo Test Team and Columbia High Road kept it together, with Columbia delivering their man Mark Cavendish to the front of the field for his second win in a row.
Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Pedro Horrillo (Rabobank), Francisco Chichi (Liquigas) and Thor Hushovd (Cervelo Test Team) all followed Cavendish across the finish about a full bike length back. Unlike yesterday, Cavendish waited until after he crossed the finish before lifting his arms from the bars. The spectators in Paso Robles were treated to an exciting finish.
Mark Cavendish will wear the green sprinter's jersey tomorrow. Levi Leipheimer retains the yellow jersey for the time trial Friday in Solvang.
By Yokota FritzAmgen Tour of California Merced to Clovis
Today's stage resulted in several riders dropping out, including Oscar Freire, Kim Kirchen and Scott Nydam as they crashed on the hilly roads of the Sierra Nevada mountains. A three man breakaway of Jason McCartney (Saxo Bank), Tyler Hamilton (Rock Racing) and Serge Pauwels (Cervelo Test Team) that began before the first KOM worked together to hold the peloton back. The peloton roared through Clovis at better than 30 mph to catch the breakaway within a few short kilometers of the finish.
Cervelo jockeyed to position Thor Hushovd for a win when several sprinters rocketed through the bunched peloton, with Tom Boonen and Mark Cavendish going neck and neck across the finish line for a photo finish.
UK track champion Mark Cavendish (Colubmia High Road) took the podium by inches today, with Tom Boonen beside him for second place. JJ Haedo took third place, followed by Thor Hushovd and Tyler Farrar. The GC top five stays unchanged, with Levi Leipheimer retaining the yellow jersey.
If you're looking for updates on the MASH SF fixed gear team, they're still riding the course. Josh Kadis is following them and posting updates on their progress on his Twitter feed. The Clif Bar blog is also supposed to be posting updates, though it looks like they're too busy to post for now.
By Yokota Fritz
A day of heavy rain, wet roads, strong crosswinds and multiple crashes and a long five man breakaway concluded with Thor Hushovd taking the win today. It was an amazing sprint finish by the entire peloton as they fought for the podium in the final stretch on the drenched roads of Modesto.
The breakaway might have been safe from the peloton if not for Mollema, who was only two and a half minutes behind race leader Levi Leipheimer. This risk that Mollema could take the jersey away from Leipheimer ensured the breakaway's failure, which was captured and swallowed up by the peloton inside of the city of Modesto.
In spite of the soaking rain, the crowds in Modesto were shoulder to shoulder, shouting enthusiastically and rattling their cowbells. It's good to see that kind of support for professional cycling in the Central Valley.
Oscar Freire of Rabobank and Mark Renshaw of Columbia followed Hushovd in for their places on the podium today. There's no change in the GC: Levi Leipheimer retains his yellow jersey for the trip from Merced to Clovis, with Astana still dominating in the top 10 with Lance Armstrong in fourth place and Chris Horner in fifth. Better weather is expected for the rest of this week -- Hurray!
Floyd Landis before the start in San Jose.
Tyler Hamilton signs an autograph for a young fan in San Jose this morning.
See a great list of links to news, results, photos and video (including Levi's crash video today) over at Steephill.TV.
Visit Bike World News for Chris Jones' Diary. Chris Jones is a rider for Team Type 1 -- he's posting daily journal entries to Bike World News.
By Yokota Fritz
The 2009 Amgen Tour of California Stage 3 runs from San Jose to Modesto today.
The riders are expected to reach the Sierra Road King of the Mountain (KOM) point about 30 minutes after their noontime start in downtown San Jose. They'll reach Patterson Pass at about 2 PM, reach Tracy sometime between 2:30 PM and 3 PM, and reach Modesto sometime after 3:40 PM with the finish 10 to 15 minutes later.
Downtown San Jose. The neutral start parade laps around downtown San Jose are a crowd pleaser and ensure several good chances of seeing the racers pass by. They start on Almaden at San Fernando, turn right on Santa Clara, right on Market, left on Park, then back to Almaden to the start line.
Sierra Road Sierra Road is closed to auto traffic, but if you start early enough you can ride your bike up their for viewing along this hill climb. They're going uphill early in the race so you probably won't see a lot of drama, but it's an excellent chance to see the cyclists as they pass by.
Patterson Pass Another good location is anywhere on the uphill side of Patterson Pass Road east of Livermore. You probably don't want to watch on the downhill -- they zip by so fast that you'll miss them even if you don't blink.
Central Valley towns If you live in the Central Valley cities and towns that the peloton travels through, those are always good places to catch them.
Modesto finish line Find a good spot out of the rain to wait for the racers to arrive. The peloton comes into Modesto on Kansas Avenue. They'll cut left on College, right on Coldwell, right on Sycamore, left on Needham, right on 16th and right on I for the circuit. The racers will do ride two laps around central Modesto before finishing at I and 12th.
By Yokota Fritz
The Amgen Tour of California traveled down the California coast and through the Redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains in constant drenching rain that Levi Leipheimer likened to an all day cold shower.
Tom Peterson on the left passes Levi Leipheimer in the final straightaway for the win.
Fans lined the roads all through Santa Cruz County in spite of the heavy rain and a mudslide that briefly closed Highway 17. Santa Cruz favorite Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) said he was very pleased to see the local turnout.
As the cyclists approached the city of Santa Cruz, the clouds parted and the sun shone down on the fans and the race. A breakaway of Tom Peterson (Garmin-Chipotle) and Levi Leipheimer (Astana) raced through town as cowbells clanged, with Levi leading and Tom Peterson sucking on Levi's wheel until they were about 50 yards from the finish line, when Tom zipped to the side and pulled away For The Win.
Levi's second place finish on the heels of Peterson earned him the Yellow Jersey, which he intends to hold on to through Escondido.
Michael Rogers of Team Columbia-High Road rounded out the podium for third place.
The blue and gold of Astana dominates in the GC rankings, with Levi Leipheimer, Lance Armstrong (!) in fourth place, and Chris Horner in fifth. Michael Rogers is in second, while Dave Zabriskie (Garmin Slipstream) is in third place overall. My vote is for Levi but these are all very strong riders.
In last place today was Phil Southerland of Team Type 1. I talked with Phil last year and I'm really impressed with his effort, especially because he has Type 1 Diabetes. Major props to Phil for what he's doing!
DNF's today are Kirk O'Bee (Bissell), Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell), Moises Aldape Chavez (Team Type 1), Jonathan Clarke (Fly V Austalia/Successful Living), Scott Davis (Fly V Austalia/Successful Living). I don't know about the others, but Andy Jacques-Maynes -- Ben Jacques-Maynes' brother -- crashed and reportedly hit a parked car. He was transported to a Santa Cruz hospital but he's doing fine.
View more photos from today's stage in my Tour of California Stage 2 set. I'm still uploading them as of 7:30 PM so give it some time, please! I appreciate any and all comments and questions.
Viewing the Tour of California in Santa Cruz: Don't drive!
By Yokota Fritz
With tens of thousands of people, if not more, possibly descending upon Santa Cruz Monday to catch a glimpse of the Tour of California, transportation-minded organizations around town are urging spectators to use alternative transportation.
Locals who plan to ride the bus should know that Metro is offering two park and ride lots. One is in Scotts Valley behind the Kings Village Shopping Center and King Village Drive and Blue Bonnet. The other is at Highway 1 and Soquel Drive near Dominican Hospital. The bus stop is in front of the hospital.
Bus riders from Scotts Valley can hop on route "35 Santa Cruz" or the Highway 17 Express, while riders from Live Oak and South County should use bus route "71 Santa Cruz." Riders without a Highway 17 bus pass should use bus 35 to save money.
By Yokota Fritz
Wasn't there a bicycle movie where the protagonist breaks away early in the race and manages to hold the lead for the entire race?
That happened in real life Sunday during Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California when Rock Racing's Francisco Mancebo broke away shortly after the neutral start and rode -- all by himself -- for 100 miles. A small group gave chase but Mancebo crossed the finish line alone and victorious as the huge crowds in Santa Rosa went wild.
Fabian Cancellara of Saxo Bank, who wore the yellow jersey in today's stage, dropped out of the race, as did AG2R rider Tadej Valjavec. Several riders -- including Lance Armstrong and Carlos Sastre -- crashed on the wet, windy mountain roads. At least one team reportedly ran out of wheels they had so many flats.
Vincenzo Nibali got second place on Sunday; Jurgen Van De Walle took third.
A shout out to the people I ran into today: Ken Conley, David Bernstein, Mike Norris who was shooting for Steephill.TV, and a writer (whose name I forget) for Bicycle.Net. Visit their sites for great photography, news, and coverage. Apologies to all the people I missed today -- I intended to spend the day in Santa Rosa, but stayed out too late in Sacramento last night and got a very late start Sunday morning.
By Yokota Fritz
Emilia Fahlin of Sweden, the youngest member of Team Columbia-Highroad, won the women's criterium race as thousands cheered on the racers in Santa Rosa Sunday afternoon.
The second-annual event consisted of a field of 88 riders competing for more than $15,000 in prizes. Set as a category Pro 1,2 race and with a limit of eight riders per team, the Amgen Tour of California Women's Criterium showcased some of the world's top professional women's cycling teams, including defending champion Brooke Miller of Team TIBCO, who finished 15th overall.
“The 2009 Amgen Tour of California Women’s Criterium was a huge success,” said Laura Charameda, race director, Amgen Tour of California Women's Criterium. “We had an amazing representation from the top women’s teams. With the support of AEG, which believes in building great events for both men and women, I look forward to the opportunity to help grow this event into the most important race in the world for professional women cyclists.”
Emilia Fahlin, overall winner of the Women’s Criterium and current National Champion of Sweden, took several important wins in the 2008 season, including the Merced Criterium and Merco Cycling Classic Road Race. Fahlin also took a stage win in the 2008 Redlands Bicycle Classic. In 2007, she took second place in the Sparkassen Giro Bochum.
“When I was here last year, I finished third,” said Fahlin, winner of the second-annual Amgen Tour of California Women’s Criterium. “I really enjoyed the race last year with the big crowds, so I wanted to do better. Getting to win here was really fun and great way to start the season; very motivating.”
Rounding out the top three were Lauren Tamayo (USA) of Team TIBCO in second and Rachel Lloyd (USA) of Proman in third. Tamayo took first in the 2008 Women’s International Challenge and the 2008 Atlanta 10K Classic. Lloyd won the 2008 Single Speed World Championship Mountain Bike Race.
America's most successful cycling race, the Amgen Tour of California, is a more than 750-mile, nine-day stage race, modeled after the Tour de France. One of the nation’s largest and most recognized annual sports events, this international, world-class cycling road race features 17 elite professional teams and athletes from around the world, competing for the highest prize purse of any cycling race in North America. The Amgen Tour of California brings the drama and excitement of a professional cycling stage race to the California coast for a fourth year in 2009, from Feb. 14-22.
“Returning to Santa Rosa for the second-annual Amgen Tour of California Women’s Criterium was an obvious choice after the incredible turnout last year,” said Andrew Messick, president, AEG Sports, presenter of the race. “There are a lot of passionate cycling fans watching the 2009 Amgen Tour of California, so we wanted to utilize that opportunity to showcase the amazing talent of these professional women cyclists as well. We remain committed to presenting women’s cycling and will look for ways to help promote and grow women’s cycling in the coming months and years.”
By Yokota Fritz
The Astana team truck was broken into last night. The thieves made off with Lance Armstrong's time trial bike, along with today's race bikes belonging to Jani Brajkovic, Yaroslav Popovych and Steve Morabito.
Has anybody posted "HOT BIKE FOR SALE" to Sacramento Craigslist yet?
Today's stage: 20 mph southeast winds and heavy rain!
By Yokota Fritz
The crowds in Sacramento this afternoon were monstrous and much larger than any I've seen before at the Tour of California. A world class peloton proved to be a huge draw as thousands of fans lined the race course in downtown Sacramento, which some compared to the crowds at the Tour de France. Rain threatened but stayed to the west of Sacramento throughout the entire race.
Fabian Cancellara of Saxobank took the podium with a winning time of 4:32.90. Astana's Levi Leipheimer followed at 4:34.11, with David Zabriskie taking third with his time of 4:35.51.
Your pick: Kim Kirchen, Christian Vandevelde, Levi Leipheimer
By Yokota Fritz
The three cyclists favored to win the 2009 Tour of California are Kim Kirchen (Team Columbia, Luxembourg), Levi Leipheimer (Team Astana, USA), and Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Chipotle, USA).
Last year, Christian Vande Velde won the Tour of Missouri after placing fifth in the Tour de France and 3rd place in the 2008 Tour of California.
Levi Leipheimer is the hero in his hometown of Santa Rosa. He placed 6th in the 2006 Tour of California and took the yellow jersey in the 2007 and 2008 editions of the Tour of California.
Kim Kirchen is the national time trial champion in Luxembourg. He's considered a strong up and coming rider and expectations are high for him to ride strong with his Team Columbia team mates.
Lance Armstrong is doing wonders for media attention on the Tour of California and I expect gigantic crowds along the race route all throughout California because of the Armstrong effect. Armstrong is a strong rider, but will his training and strength be enough to get him on the podium this year?
What do you think? Who will you watch this year in California? Who will take the California golden jersey in Escondido on February 22?
By Yokota Fritz
Cycling fans in Santa Rosa have many options to view or participate this weekend.
Velove Winter Bike Festival this Saturday, February 14 is Santa Rosa’s new winter bike festival with a Cyclocross race (11 AM to 5 PM). A marching band (!) provides live music.
Velove continues on Sunday, February 15 with the West Coast Gold Sprints from 12 PM to 7 PM as local teams face off in stationary bike races at the Historic Railroad Square.
Don't forget about the Amgen Tour of California Women's Criterium beginning at 1 PM on Sunday. The cyclists will race around 3rd and 4th Streets between B and E Streets. Set as a category Pro 1/2 race, the Amgen Tour of California Women's Criterium will have a limit of eight riders per team. Once again using portions of the Stage 1 men's finishing circuit in Santa Rosa, the Women's Criterium will bring the thrill of professional women's cycling to fans in the hours just before the men's finish in downtown Santa Rosa.
Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California finishes in Santa Rosa on Sunday, with the riders expected to arrive at the finish line in downtown Santa Rosa at about 4 PM.
Velove is a production of Bike Monkey, the City of Santa Rosa, Mainstreet and West Coast Gold Sprints. For more information and more cycling activities in Santa Rosa this weekend, visit the Velove Bike Festival website.
By Yokota Fritz
Stage 2 of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California begins in Sausalito at 8:30 AM near the Spinnaker Restaurant. Downtown Sausalito is great, bikey town and the headquarters for Breezer Bikes and Swobo. You'll likely run into the bike people from Breezer and Swobo in Sausalito or at the Bike Expo.
The cyclists make two circuits along Bridgeway and Caledonia where you'll see the cyclists up close along the sidewalks during their neutral start.
The peloton then moves south from Bridgeway, up the steep hill of Alexander to the Golden Gate Bridge approach.
Tour of California viewing from the Golden Gate Bridge
Along the Golden Gate Bridge, both the pedestrian walkway and bikeway will be open on race day, though cyclists will be required to walk their bikes on the bikeway, and spectators will be screened by security personnel. You can watch the race from either walkway, but the cyclists will ride on the northbound side of the bridge.
Amgen Tour of California: Santa Cruz viewing locations
By Yokota Fritz
Pro cycling fans will have several choices to view some great cycling in Santa Cruz County during Stage 2 of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California on Presidents Day, Monday, February 16.
California Highway 1 at Bonny Doon Road The cyclists will zoom down Highway 1 from Pacifica, past Davenport and then turn left onto Bonny Doon Road to begin the last climb of Stage 2. There's ample parking nearby for the Bonny Doon Beach (a nude beach). Santa Cruz Metro routes 40 & 42 stop at this intersection. Santa Cruz Metro will operate on a regular weekday schedule on President's Day. I suggest taking #40 from downtown Santa Cruz at 8:30 AM to Bonny Doon Beach, then return to Santa Cruz on the #42 at 1 PM. Check the weather forecast, pack a lunch, use sunscreen. It's about 10 miles of wide shoulders along Highway 1 to this point from downtown Santa Cruz.
Bonny Doon Road at Smith Grade. You might be able to park along Smith Grade and watch as the cyclists climb Bonny Doon Road at this point. From here, getting back to downtown Santa Cruz in time for the finish might be difficult no matter your mode of transportation. Santa Cruz Metro routes 42 and 41 travel along Bonny Doon Road.
Pine Flats Road and Empire Grade The cyclists hit the summit of their climb as they turn from Pine Flats Road to Empire Grade. This is a tremendous viewing opportunity if you can get parking or a ride here. Don't expect to make it to the finish line, though: the cyclists can hit 60 mph on this steep, windy downhill through the redwood forests of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and along the UC-Santa Cruz campus as they zoom into Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz Metro routes 42 and 41 stop at this intersection.
Bay Street and High Street The peloton enters the city of Santa Cruz at high speed and turns sharply right from High Street to Bay Street. This intersection -- the main entrance to UC-Santa Cruz -- is well served by a number of Santa Cruz Metro routes.
Bay and Mission The route finally flattens out after the cyclists turn left onto Mission Street (California Route 1) from Bay Street. Anywhere along Mission Street between Bay and Walnut should be good for viewing. Emily's on Mission at Laurel might be a good place to sit and watch as you have something good to eat there.
Santa Cruz High School Along Walnut Street, the Santa Cruz Local Organizing Committee suggests viewing from the big lawn in front of Santa Cruz High School, which is also conveniently at the top of a hill.
Stage 2 Finish on Front Street Stage 2 of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California finishes at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History where Front and River Streets meet in downtown. Several roads will be closed and parking is very limited in Santa Cruz
I'll be at the downtown finish, and I may be at Highway 1 somewhere, either in Davenport or at the Bonny Doon Road turn if I think I can make it into Santa Cruz before the racers. If you plan to be at any of these points, please leave a comment. If you plan to take photos and post them online, give me a heads up so I know to link to them.
Persistence pays off bringing Tour of California to Santa Cruz
By Yokota Fritz
Local business owner and cycling fanatic Matt Twisselman is the Santa Cruz Local Organizing Committee for the 2009 Amgen Tour of California. He's been trying to bring a stage to Santa Cruz since 2005 and finally succeeded for the 2009 race.
Four years after Twisselman, 49, first thought the race might roll through Santa Cruz, he's actually going to see it happen. On Feb. 16, the 117-mile second stage of the nine-day Tour of California will begin in Sausalito and finish at the corner of Front and Cooper streets in downtown Santa Cruz. It will be one of the largest sporting events ever hosted by the city. And it may not have happened without Twisselman.
Garmin-Chipotle cyclist Svein Tuft will compete in the Tour of California beginning this weekend. This Canadian cyclist has taken a very unusual path to professional sports:
Those who have heard the tale of Svein Tuft have wondered, could it possibly be true?
How he dropped out of school in the 10th grade, lured by the freedom of the outdoors. How he evolved into a barrel-chested woodsman with Paul Bunyan biceps. How he ventured, at 18, from his home in Canada into the wilderness on a $40 thrift-shop bike hooked to a homemade trailer.
They have learned of the way he traveled sparingly, towing only his camping gear, a sack of potatoes and his 80-pound dog, Bear. The way he drank from streams and ate beside an open fire. Or hopped trains across Canada, resting as the land flickered by.
Levi Leipheimer has broken pelvis
Three is a magic number for Levi Leipheimer
As a Palomar Mountain residnet, I'd like to say that the cylcing community is awesome! I met some amazing people today, and really enjoyed watching the KOM. Very little trash left on the mountain, and just a great vibe from the crowd! Thanks for everyone who wupported our one-room schoolhouse by buying our baked goods and organic fruit!
Frank played some good strategy at the end, knowing Nibali's priority was trying to make up time not win the stage.
Good effort from the young guy though, to hang in with a guy like Frank Schleck on a climb proves you've got a pair.
Now that the tour is over I don't know what to do with myself. Is Versus covering Vuelta Mexico? ;)
Stage 7: Rinaldo Nocentini
Mancebo's crash looked pretty bad. Any word on his condition?
Mancebo has a concussion and broken hand and elbow, according to Rock Racing. It's too bad about his crash -- he was doing well.
Solvang - Ride it like YOU stole it
I don't know about this. As I understood it, that is the new one that Trek Project One put together in 3 days to replace the purloined bike.
I couldn't figure out if this is the new or old bike.
It HAS to be the new bike...
Stage 5 updates
Paso Robles: Another field sprint finish
Stage 4: Sprinter's day to shine
Cavedish is hardly an "Olympic Champion". He did go to Beijing but came back with zero medals. Facts facts...
Agh, that's what I get for thumbing this stuff in my phone while sitting at a traffic light.
Wow. You weren't on your bike, were you?
Where else would I be? :-)
Flickr blog features Tour of California
Very cool photo. I wonder if Ken has a trick to get the rain to show up so distinctly...
Warren, shallow depth of field from a wide open lens is the trick. This ensures only a short 'plane' of raindrops is in focus, instead of geting a smear of rain through the whole photo. In this photo you might be able to see it a little better -- the water splash from the rear tire is in sharp focus, while the rain falling down is a little bit blurry.
Viking in Modesto: Tour of California
2009 Amgen Tour of California viewing times
Best Young Rider Robert Gesink
Stage 2: Rain and ShineThis post has been removed by the author.
I was a little taken back by the way Thomas Peterson took the win today. It was a cheap move in my book. Let’s face it, he doesn't get the win without Levi's outstanding performance today.
Joel- That was a common move in racing. Levi is geeting the overall lead and yellow jersey so he gives the win to his break partner. Win-win for both. And since Levi wasn't greedy in taking both win and GC, Peterson may me more willing to work for Levi down the road. If Levi didn't stand to take GC, then it would have been a cheap(er) win. Then again, Levi didn't have to lead out the finish either.
I'm with BikerDude -- the GC will often sacrifice a stage win because Peterson isn't a threat to Levi, and Peterson may very well pull Levi along in a later stage, especially if they're in a small breakaway like today or a chase group down the road.
In this case, though, it looked to me like Levi didn't give up the stage win without a fight -- he was straining for all he was worth to catch up with Peterson.
Yes, I understand racing tactics, I get it. But Thomas Peterson sucked his wheel for a good 15-20k. I guess I'm just not that impressed how he did it.
Levi surely is looking suspicious to me after that stage. He dropped the peleton, bombed up the biggest climb of the day, reeled in all the leaders, sped past them, and towed another rider for 20 miles or so till about 100 metres from the finish line.
Peterson did his job to perfection. If Peterson - of Garmin Chipotle - works with Levi, then Levi gets a bigger time gap. Who is in 2nd place? Zabriskie - of Garmin Chipotle. If Peterson works DaveZ would bite off his head. And as such Peterson won't be helping Levi anytime soon either.
Once that is settled, Peterson also needs to take the stage to take an extra several seconds of time bonus away from Levi.
There was no sacrifice here. Sacrificing a stage would have been if someone from BMC or some such shit was with Levi, and Levi offers the stage win if the guy helps him build a time gap.
Of course Peterson was so knackered he would have been unable to take a pull anyway.
Viewing the Tour of California in Santa Cruz: Don't drive!
Did you really ride in today's monsoon? That would certainly show commitment.
Women's Criterium: Emilia Fahlin
I actually used to race with Lauren for FCCC in Trexlertown. She turned out to be a lot better of a cyclist than me. :-P
Armstrong's bike stolen!
2009 Amgen Tour of California Photos
Notice that the pictures are not about bicycling. They're about personalities.
Bicycling is not a specatator sport.
These are really great shots Fritz. I am impressed.
2009 Tour of California: Windy in Sacramento
Your pick: Kim Kirchen, Christian Vandevelde, Levi Leipheimer
Probably Levi, but I'll be pulling for the Argyle boys. I'd love to see CVV win it, but I suspect he's got his sights set later in the summer. BTW, technically CVV was 4th in last year's le Tour because Kohl turned out to be a cheat.
I would love to see Landis do well and win the ToC.
Santa Rosa cycling weekend
And just as important as all that cycling stuff, did you see the graphic design of these posters? Nice.
Tour of California from the Golden Gate Bridge
Approximately what time in the morning will the leaders and peloton be crossing the Golden Gate Bridge?
Neutral start in Sausalito begins at 8:30 AM; they cyclists are expected to get on the GGB 10 minutes later.
awkwardly, we have to get to work across the bridge that day. can we ride our bikes to the bridge through the presidio?
@tempest: Yeah, it's gonna be a headache for the commuters, whether you drive or bike. Bikeway and walkway open, but there are security checks and cyclists will be told to walk bikes even on the bikeway :-( Maybe it's a day to take the ferry?
Problem for me: I'm staying near Santa Rosa Sunday night, but need to get into SF before the race start at 8:30.
Amgen Tour of California: Santa Cruz viewing locations
Thanks for such a great map with the excellent 'landmarks' photos. Nice.
Thanks for the viewing info. I'm coming down for this stage from Oregon and looking for advice. Do you think it would be feasible to watch at the top of Tunitas Creek climb and then drive over to 280 and make it down to Santa Cruz for the finish? Any suggestions on the best spots to part in Santa Cruz? I don't mind walking a little ways as long as I make it in time - grocery store lot or parking garage or something? Thanks!
Adam: Driving from Tunitas Creek & Skyline to downtown Santa Cruz is about 50 miles and *should* take a little over an hour, assuming you don't run into traffic problems *and* assuming you can park. It's supposed to take the cyclists about 3 hours to get from Tunitas Creek & Skyline into downtown. You can probably make it.
I think I'll go for coastal shots and let others go for the King of the Mountain photography.
Does anyone know how early the Pine Flats and Empire Grade roads will be closed off for the race? About what time do you estimate the riders will reach the top of Pine Flats and begin the decent down Empire Grade?
Dave, the riders are expected to hit Empire Grade anywhere between 12:30 and 1:30. There will be 'moving' road closures from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. along Bonny Doon to Empire Grade and from noon-2:30 along Empire Grade to Bay.
I live right off bay street so I plan on watching from bay and high! Perhaps I could ride down and see the finsih, though, with all the road closures and my slow biking pace, I probably wont make it in time!
Thanks for all this info! Anyone know what time the race will hit bay and high?
@Deinem, the racers are expected to finish between 1 PM to 2 PM. With the sloppy weather, though, it might be even later than that. Enjoy the race! Try to come to the finish even if you don't think you'll make it in time -- lots of activities planned all around downtown.
anyone have info on road closures or parking for the Tunitas creek climb?
Persistence pays off bringing Tour of California to Santa Cruz
...'svein tuft ???'...'svein TUFF !!!'...