As part of my tune-up for the Tour of Missouri I spent all of Saturday shooting cycling races. First up was the Beat the Clock time trial at 7am. The was mostly "field testing the 70-200 f/2.8 IS", so I shot some head-on shots as those are the most stressful for the equipment. Not everything was a keeper, but the image stabilization reduces one more area of mistake: camera shake. Normally at 200mm, you have to shoot at around 1/320 or faster to avoid camera shake blur. With all the action that's going on, I sometimes forget to check the shutter speed while shooting (I always shoot with aperture priority). IS gives a little more margin.
I left the time trial, stopped off at home to upload my photos, then zoomed down to Monterey for the World 24 Solo/Team Championships. The organizers gave me a lift out to the first checkpoint on the course and proceeded to hike about 5-7 miles along the course back to the Laguna Seca raceway. The narrow single track along the way gave me ample opportunity to break in my 16-35mm as well as my 580EX II flash. The flash got some additional testing when the sun went down and riders continued to race, but I must say that I am still not comfortable using flash in my sports photography. By 9pm I was nearly out of battery life, compact flash storage, and personal energy -- I drove home happy but tired. Hats off to anyone who shoots all 24 hours of the 24-hour race. Much, much more difficult than any road race I've shot.
All-in-all it was a great photography day, not in the photos, but in the ability to stress all of my equipment and to shoot in all kinds of light. I shot several shots with riders heading into the morning sun, battled the annihilating overhead noon sun that casts dark shadows over faces, and got some pleasing lighting with the setting sun. There was also a couple of hours of battery left to shoot some night motion blur.
Today I hung out taking photos and getting autographs at the stage start in Santa Barbara. I thought I'd drive up Balcom Canyon after that to get some photos from the final climb, but the CHPs had the road blocked off. After hiking about a kilometer up, I decided to turn back because I had a photographer's bib (a bright yellow bib that says "photo" on it = all access pass) waiting for me at the finish line and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to take my first real sprint finish photo.
I drove like a madman to get to the finish line -- it's hard to stay in front of professional bikers -- mostly because I kept on making wrong turns. With all time I had to prepare, you would think that I would have printed off street maps.
I did get my first real sprint finish photo. It wasn't as good as I had hoped, but it was exciting to give it a try.
Levi Leipheimer continues to put on a show for the fans and I've been having my best cycling+photography experience ever. Today I got to be a total fanboy + a "pro" photographer. Another photographer took time to give me advise on portfolio building, lenses, and submitting photos to magazines. People pay to have experiences like these and instead I'm being fed food and offered money for my photos. Armstrong, Ekimov, Julich, Cancellara, Hincapie, Danielson, Voigt, etc... I got near total access: Graham Watson and Casey Gibson stood behind me.
I even inquired about being a staff photographer. When I told the guy that I work as a software engineer, he told me to keep my job. Which only shows that not every dream should come true.
Now I'm tired. I woke up at 4:30am to drive down here and I need to go find somewhere to sleep. Good night all.
I new that the media pass would give me better access to take my photos, but who knew there would be other fringe benefits:
I'm in Santa Barbara now drinking coffee to stay awake. I still need to find a place to sleep tonight...
On a whim I decided to drive up to Santa Rosa to see stage 1 of the Tour of California. I normally ignore the sprint stages, but I figured with President's Day and all it would be worth a new experience. The Santa Rosa stage also has three laps on the finishing circuit, so there would be multiple chances to snap photos.
There were tons of people in Santa Rosa and I couldn't get a good spot near the finish line. I managed to convince someone to let me squeeze in but a half an hour later the media folk started setting up right in front of us, blocking our best views. I couldn't get good sightlines down the straightaway, which meant that the autofocus and metering on a lot of my photos were blown. It didn't really matter, either, because there were so many of the thin yellow thundersticks being waved around that half of my photos feature them instead. As it turned out, it really didn't matter what was going on towards the finish line.
After the riders passed on at the start of the penultimate lap, there was a loud popping noise. I turned around and saw bike after bike piling up. There were riders yelling at each other in anger, others were lazily getting up, and others seemed to be figuring out what damage they suffered. All the while, the forty riders who weren't involved in the crash raced away. It wasn't even until a couple of minutes later that I realized that Levi Leipheimer, who's in the overall lead, was involved in the crash. The race lost all organization after that. The announcers didn't know what was going on, the finish had to be reviewed on tape to see who won, the judges belatedly decided to neutralize the finish (award everyone the same time), and one of the riders failed to show up for the award's ceremony.
The photo above is my favorite from the day because it summarizes so much of the chaos. Off in the distance, the riders racing away. In the foreground, riders still piling up on top of one another. In the center, Levi Leipheimer. The Liquigas rider is kicking someone in the head and on the side of #118's right leg: a face (you have to view the full size to see it).
Team Uni was in effect yesterday. After much practice with the Tour de Comic-Con, it was time to branch into the cycling realm with the Tour of California. parakkum loaned the necessary video capture equipment, offtopicartisan shot the video and reconnoitered the course, and I shot photos.
The hardest stretch was when ota initiated the sprint from Telegraph Hill down to the Embarcadero so that we could catch the podium presentation. Or perhaps the hardest stretch was when we had to walk back up Telegraph Hill to get to my car.
I like these photos enough to cross post 'em (original entry here)
This was my first time out shooting with my new Canon 30D. It was also my first time shooting a race under tree-shaded conditions. Although many of the photos didn't expose properly, these are some of my favorite photos that I've ever taken at a cycling race. The lighting created such interesting contrasts in the photos, the trees are a much better backdrop than business parks, and there is so much more detail with the ambient lighting. It's much more... dramatic.
These photos got buried under a pile: the next day was the Burlingame Criterium, then next week Al and I did a time trial, and then I had to shoot two weddings in the following weeks. Rather than bury them any longer, I've decided to go ahead to post them without processing.
I got to see Levi Leipheimer speak at Lombardi Sports, where he talked about altitude tents, his upcoming season and more. And he signed the photo I have hanging up in the kitchen.
Spare Cycles (kwc.org/cycling) is my new cycling blog. I've broken off my past Tour of California, Tour de France, San Francisco Grand Prix, and other coverage and moved it on over. My reasons for doing so were similar to moving the mythbusters entries: people who want to just see cycling coverage get innundated with many entries that having nothing to do with it, it's harder to navigate, and it's harder to showcase links to other cycling-related sites.
The first new content of the Spare Cycles will go up once I finish prepping an entry on lessons learned for taking cycling photographs. The blog may be a little dormant until the Sea Otter Classic and Tour de Georgia in April (still waiting for the Morgan Hill Grand Prix announcement), but I'll see what other content I can put together that isn't just race coverage and photos.
2*1000 contest participants, don't fret. Entries for all three blogs -- this one, Unofficial MythBusters, and Spare Cycles will count towards the total. And to littlestar who thinks I don't post enough, the 57 entries I've posted this month is the greatest amount since October 2004 (also 57 entries)... and February is a short month :).
The cycling season has been postponed for me on the account of injury to a teammate. Cycling is a lot like drinking: best done with others. You can get wasted by yourself, but who will hold your helmet while you puke?
Lesson learned this week: don't forget your bike shoes. We did some basic cornering practice, but this lesson about footwear was much more important. Without bike shoes I couldn't lock into my pedals and get power on my upstroke. Al convinced me to race anyway. Surprisingly enough, I finished.
I survived six laps in the peloton before falling back and doing the last four in a paceline of stragglers. I had double-vision and my brain had gone offline, but this was much better than only surviving one lap in the peloton, not finishing, and emptying my stomach on the side of the road like last week. The final stats from my computer read: ~39:50 / 22.8mph / 15.1 miles.
A husband/wife mentor team were largely responsible for my finish. They formed the bookends of the paceline that I finished with. I nearly lost it when the rider in front of me gave up and left a huge gap between me and the next rider. If it weren't for the mentor behind me screaming for me to catch back up I probably would have watched as my draft rode away. Then I would have to come up with some lame excuse to explain my failure, like drinking bad sports drink samples, or forgetting my shoes.
Some additional notes on lessons learned in the extended.
Previously: First race
I entered my first bike race today, the Early Bird Criterium sponsored by Velopromo. It wasn't a glorious effort, but it was a fun effort. I was busy gulping down free sports drink and sports bar samples when Al asked me to come ride in the 35-year-old+ race with him. The sickeningly sweet sports drink ended up on the side of the road three laps later and symbolically ended my first race. My poor showing was more due to the fact that I haven't ridden a bike in three weeks than corn syrup, and I got what I wanted out of the event. There are four more coming up and I have a better clue as to what I am getting myself into now. I already have some important little lessons learned, like warmup before you race and don't accept free drinks from strangers.
Riding in the middle of a pack zooming down the road at 26 mph is a lot of fun, but also really, really hard. Al and I usually ride the hilly terrain of Los Altos, so we were both unaccustomed to the notion of going round and round a flat 1.5 mile circuit at full speed until your legs burn off. The race starts off really fast and you'll find yourself red-lining almost immediately if you haven't warmed up beforehand. Riders are constantly flowing around and you have to quickly react to find a wheel to latch onto. On the straightaways you get a little bit of breather -- the slipstreams nearly tow you along. It all changes when the pack goes through a turn. You're trying to make sure that you go through the turn without veering into another bike's line and crashing, next thing you notice is that you're 5 ft, 10ft, 20ft behind the rider in front of you and there's a big headwind pushing you even further back. You pedal desperately to get back into that safe little slipstream, but your computer informs you that you're at your top speed and your stomach says, "Yes those sports drink samples were free, but didn't you bring two bottles of your own to the race?" The rider in front of you is probably coasting, having gotten back into the draft, and if he had a rearview mirror he would probably smirk that he's a cut above.
My goal by the end of these race sessions is to finish in the peloton. Also, to not crash.
This was a mentored race: prior to the race they had a tutorial (first in a five-part series) and they also rode along during the race to provide assistance. I've put some notes on the lessons taught so far in the extended.
The is one of the best grand tour races I've seen in recent memory, up there with Roberto Heras winning the 2003 Vuelta on the penultimate mountain time trail stage and Armstrong surviving against Ullrich to win his fifth Tour. Unlike those other two US Postal/Discovery Channel team victories, Savoldelli won this one without the team's big guns. Either not believing that Savoldelli would have a shot at the overall win, or wanting to save their riders for the Tour de France tune up, Discovery didn't send any climbers other than Tom Danielson (who dropped out early with knee problems) to help out. This meant that on climb after climb Savoldelli was isolated, while Basso and Simoni were well-supported. Eventually Basso would crack, but the one-two punch of Cunego and Simoni and Lampre repeatedly damaged Savoldelli's lead on the final mountain stages.
This year's Giro was about flipped expectations: * The strongest rider, Ivan Basso, cracked with a stomach ailment, after putting in an impressive performance to get the leader's jersey. * Savoldelli, who didn't come into the Giro at the top of his form, got to up his expectations on a daily basis. * A great rider that no one expected to contend for the overall, Danilo Di Luca, continued to surprise by putting in a fight for a podium finish, winning multiple stages, and otherwise carrying his Pro Tour leader's jersey well. * Reversing their roles yet again, last year's Giro winner, Damian Cunego, was once again in the role of lieutenant to two-time Giro winner Simoni.
I've never posted about the Giro like I have the Tour de France or Vuelta a Espana. It usually isn't that much fun to watch Petacchi win stage after stage (nearly half the stages in 2004), but I paid the $5.95 for OLN's streaming Internet broadcast subscription and gave it a shot.
Half-way in, it's been well worth it. Nine different riders have worn the leader's jersey, the sprint finishes have been too difficult for Petacchi's team to control, and Di Luca and Bettini have been duking out a great mini-battle that ended finally with Stage 11's entrance into mighty Italian Dolomites.
Stage 11 was the first mountain stage of the Giro and had two major climbs at the end that set the tone for the battle. The Stage 8 time trial had shown that Ivan Basso and Paolo Savoldelli were in good form, but Stage 11 really set them apart.
Basso repeatedly attacked on the second-to-last climb, winnowing down the group from twenty down to down to four. Savoldelli then attacked on the descent and managed to get a 20 second lead heading into the last climb. Basso hit the bottom of the final climb and quickly cut that lead to nothing, and from there on it was just him and Savoldelli, with Simoni occassionally hanging on. Savoldelli got the stage win by hanging on for dear life and attacking at the very end, but Basso looks the better rider. Last year's winner, Damiano Cunego, was left over 6'02" back.
Basso's strength in the Giro will be interesting come Tour time, as it will either reinforce or hurt conventional wisdom. With Armstrong perenially focusing on just one Grand Tour, a good showing by Basso in both might alter other rider's ambitions.
On a side note: the whole Internet broadcast subscription is rather strange. You're getting a raw feed, essentially, with no commentary. The only real sounds are a helicopter when you're in an overhead shot and motorcycles for the on-road shots. It's a bit eery, though it's nice not to have the constant commentator rambling. However, to compensate for the lack of commentary and low-quality of the stream (can't read rider numbers), I have to pull up a cyclingnews live report to supplement the video.
Stage 11 Summary (cycling news)
Lance Armstrong will retire the day after this year's Tour de France. The rumor mill this year started off trying to guess which races Armstrong would be racing this year, but this soon became overwhelmed by retirement rumors after being quoted as saying "Four months and it's over." Given all the challenges left unfulfilled (Giro d' Italia, Vuelta a Espana, hour record), it'll be sad to see him go, but I hope that the nascent US cycling events that he helped grow will continue to blossom even in his absence.
The Morgan Hill Grand Prix was two great races -- both the Men's and Women's pros turned in great efforts. In the women's group, Christine Thornburg barely held onto a breakaway to take the race -- she was nearly caught on the final climb, and on the final straightaway the entire pack was breathing down her neck.
In the men's group, it was an example of one rider completely outclassing the rest -- Dave Zabriskie, the winner, races for CSC, an international team, whereas many of the other riders were locals racing for local teams. Despite the complete domination, it was entertaining to watch as he executed his tactics without fail. Zabriskie was racing without support from his team, so he first brokeaway from the pack to get some of the better riders to chase him and form a virtual breakaway team for him. He then attacked that breakaway group to break off some of the Webcor riders (there were 3 in the breakaway), and with one final attack he was able to solo multiple laps to victory.
As usual, I took quite a few photos of the races, though it was a lot easier than usual to filter the photos, as a large percentage of them were out of focus or contained shots of bare road. I thought my fancy new telephoto lens would solve all my difficulties shooting photos at bike races -- I would have beautiful, crisp, close-up shots of bike racers battling for victory. It turns out that you actually need talent to shoot photos of people moving 40 miles/hour, but I'm happy to get the practice. I have a far greater appreciation for Graham Watson now. I uploaded a small set of the photos that you can checkout:
This little lifehack has saved me a bit of time and kept me on the right Caltrain. Caltrain gives out yellow tags to put on your bike that you label with the station that you are getting on/off. An unintended use is that they are also handy for writing down the Caltrain schedule as they are small, waterproof, durable, and easy-to-read. They also attach as easily to a bag as they do a bike -- if I'm not using my bike I keep the tag on my work bag so that I always have it with me.
I got back all my photos from the T-Mobile race. Unfortunately, my first roll was ruined by stale film, but there's still more than enough photos to surf through. All the more reason for me to get a Digital Canon Rebel.
T-Mobile 2004 Photos (127 photos)
Note: none of the timestamps for the 35mm film photos are correct, though I did try to approximately place them so that the flow of the photos would be reasonable. If you're sharp enough to be able to tell the difference (hint: digital photos are blurry) then you can gauge the time correctly.
For reference, US Postal's number assignments:
12 Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus)
13 Jose Azevedo (Por)
14 Michael Creed (USA)
15 Pavel Padrnos (Cze)
16 George Hincapie (USA)
17 Jose Rubiera (Spa)
18 Benjamin Noval (Spa)
I got in a lot of sports watching this weekend. I got to see USC beat up Colorado State 49-0, and the Redskins defense beatdown the Bucs 16-10 (the offense was a bit lacking). The biggest event of the weekend, though, was watching this year's T-Mobile International (Al and Jill came along, which was great, because I'd never been able to convince anyone to go with me before). As always, the race provided a very exciting finish.
It was a bit of the old and new in this year's race. Armstrong did not start for the first time, and the free "Go Lance!" signs were missing (sad, because I really wanted to get a 6x sign to go with my 4x and 5x signs). The US Postal merchandise tents seemed eager to be dumping old merchandise and was selling 4x and 5x champion gear at a discount.
Previous winners Chris Horner and Charles Dionne were back, but with Horner's Saturn team now defunct, and with Dionne perennially vying for a new contract every September, both were now racing for the local Webcor team.
With three laps to go, everyone (including myself) had thought that the US Olympian Jason McCartney had won it all -- he had a lead of over 4:30, which with 15 miles to go seemed unassailable. When you're watching the riders go by, a 4:30 lead seems like a gigantic distance, especially when the Muni officials are able to let six trolley cars safely cross the race course in-between the leader and the next rider.
US Postal pulled riders back from chase groups and formed an alliance with Webcor to chase McCartney down, but their coordinated pace still did not seem quick enough as McCartney took 1:30 lead into the final lap.
Horner did the pulling for Dionne, and Dionne launched a killer attack on the Taylor hill, which became McCartney's undoing. Hincapie, despite all the efforts of his US Postal teammates, didn't have it in him to give chase, and only Fred Rodriguez gave any pursuit (after wasting time trying to recruit others to help chase).
I got to see Dionne and Rodriguez come around the final bend, and the gap was simply too much to be chased down, so Dionne became the first rider to ever win the SF race twice.
I was amazed to listen to Rodriguez's interview after the race, in which he talked about his crash during the race and mentioned that after the crash he couldn't use his left leg to pedal anymore. So not only did he catch back up to the pursuit group after getting his bike replaced and seat adjusted on the fly, but he was also the only person to give chase to Dionne at the end and did so with only one leg working. It's easy to see why he's the US pro cycling champion.
Spotted this at one of the booths at the T-Mobile bike race. You can get more info at forzzaimports.com. (More photos in the extended entry)
Not that he needed any given the 2003 Tour de France in which in raced with a broken collarbone, but Tyler Hamilton, after dropping out of this year's Tour with a back injury, now gets to stare at a shiny gold medal. He edged out US Postal's Ekimov (silver), and Bobby Julich (bronze).
Engadget has an article on the timing system that was deployed at this year's Tour de France which uses a mixture of cameras and transponders to report when the riders cross the line, no small feat if you've seen a race finish. It also results in fairly cool, surreal finish line photos (notice the spokes on the bikes).
Meanwhile, a technology that's still in trials will allow TV broadcasts to track riders via satellite and do cool things like show their relative positions using 3D animations (6MB video). I think this technology would help introduce people to the sport, as one of the hard parts about watching cycling is figuring out where everyone is relative to the course and relative to each other.
If you've read this blog for more than a year, you know that two weeks from now this will become a non-stop, photo-filled Tour de France fest (apologies to non-cyclist readers). This year, though, I've gotta problem. I'm moving. The week the Tour de France starts. I can't possibly miss a stage and feel complete, and who knows what dastardly things Comcast might try to do when we sign up for a new cable line. I won't respect myself if I have to resign myself to watching tiny little Web clip replays of all the cool moments.
Please, oh please, can someone with a TiVo and OLN save me from this impending doom? I will bring you beer, or coke, or any other beverage for you to drink while I occupy space in your living room.
If you don't have a TiVo, I'll even let you borrow mine (assuming you have OLN), and you'll become so addicted to the TiVo that I'll have to pry your fingers off of it one-by-one as I reclaim it.
My best guess is that this would only be for a couple of days, but perhaps more if Comcast sucks (is that really an 'if' though?).
US Postal will be known next year as Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, and Lance Armstrong will become an on-air personality for some undisclosed Discovery Channel shows. As long as this doesn't hurt OLN I'm happy, though I guess they won't be the "Boys in Blue" anymore.
- Postal Discovers new sponsor
Armstrong won the Tour of Georgia, which will hopefully bode well for his sixth attempt at the Tour de France.
To my disappointment, it doesn't appear that OLN is broadcasting it, or if they are, they are waiting for some future date. Their other pro cycling broadcasts tend to rely on other organization's cameras, so perhaps that is the problem. This might also be a case of ABC having first rights. Time will tell.
I did manage to catch this year's Liege-Baston-Leige on OLN. I was hoping to see another Tyler Hamilton victory, but he and Floyd Landis disappeared towards the end after earlier attacks. Rebellin won his third classic in the same week, which is extremely remarkable. In the two races I saw, he managed to stick on the tail of Boogerd, who twice had to watch Rebellin scoot around him at the finish.
Lance Armstrong won Stage 3 of the Tour of Georgia, and followed that victory the same day with a Stage 4 time trial victory. The two victories vaulted him into first place with two stages to go (Armstrong finished with the peloton in Stage 5, not losing any real time). I'm hoping OLN has these.
With all this wonderful news coming in the buildup to the Tour de France, US Postal has officially decided to drop its sponsorship of the team after this year. I've already posted reasons as to why I think this is stupid. With all the athletes out there on charges for rape, murder, and doping, you don't drop sponsorship of a winner whose image is uniformly positive.
US Postal hinted that they might sponsor a different sport instead. It's hard to figure out what sport they could realistically sponsor -- the big four of baseball, football, hockey, and basketball are not very amenable to their type of sponsorship. The only sport that I can think of that they could sponsor in a similar manner would be Nascar, though I shudder to call it a sport.
While browsing the lancearmstrong.com, I found out that the US Postal Service is considering dropping its sponsorship of Armstrong's pro cycling team. Personally, I was shocked. For $10M/year, USPS gets it's huge logo on the backs of cycling team that has won the past five Tour de France races. In also gets the main attraction, Lance Armstrong, who's a poster boy hero, the biggest American in cycling, and one of the biggest people in cycling in the world (not to mention Sportsman of the Year by both ESPN and Sports Illustrated).
USPS also gets to sponsor a sport that keeps its athletes clean from performance-enhancing drugs, one that doesn't calls its games on the account of rain or snow, and one where the main event lasts an entire month, which means that for an entire month on SportsCenter millions of viewers will hear "US Postal cycling team."
Finally, when in present history has anyone actually wanted to wear the USPS logo? (let alone pay $80-100 for jersey with a USPS logo, or $2500-3500 for a USPS-painted bike, $20 for a USPS hat, etc...)
* NOTE: The USPS is not tax-payer funded and has to compete against UPS and FedEx
Hey, it's cycling season again, so my readers can now groan as I post lots on lots of links to bike races :). I'll be friendly this time around and do some condensing for you all.
The season has already started well for US Postal. After winning the time trial on his new time trial bike (with adjusted position), Armstrong made good on his promise to work for teammate Landis, who won the overall title at the Tour of Algarve in Portugal.
Marco Pantani took a Tour de France of his own (first Italian to do so in 33 years) and was a daring in the mountains. The races I saw of his were great matches against Armstrong and provided a lot of excitement.
Pantani found dead, website reports
... is over. Saturn, which sponsored both the best men's and women's US cycling teams, has decided that it's days of team sponsorship are over. This is especially unfortunate given the awesome 1-2 showing that Horner and McCormack put in for them at the T-Mobile International in San Francisco.
- End of an era? Saturn pulls plug on cycling team
I spent all day at the T-Mobile International bike race in San Francisco. The main attractions were Armstrong, Vinokourov, Simoni, and Garzelli. However, despite all this star power (which is awesome to see in an American race), it was the local teams that came to play. Armstrong, suffering from a stomach flu, dropped out after 50 miles, and Saeco largely stayed under the radar. It did appear that Telekom was trying to do it's sponsor right and placed riders in the main breakaway groups, but Saturn managed to deliver an excellent one two punch with McCormack (current US champion) and Horner each attacking on the final laps.
Horner, who suffered a flat tire bridging up to the breakaway group, took on a tire from the Mavic neutral support car and quickly caught the leaders. McCormack then attacked, was reeled in, and then quickly followed by an attack from Horner. Horner's attack turned out to be the last as he was able to build up a sizable lead and cruise to victory. McCormack also attacked again and sat in the second place position.
US Postal managed to launch a last minute attempt by Ekimov to try and catch McCormack, but it was too little too late. Compared to last year, US Postal looked very disorganized and never controlled the pace, except for a single lap where Armstrong took control of the pace... and then promptly dropped out. With Tour riders Hincapie, Landis, CheChu, Beltran, and Heras serving duty in the Vuelta, and at least two riders (Armstrong, Padrnos, and possibly one other) dropping out, this was about all that could be expected. It was impressive to see Ekimov motoring around Embarcadero Plaza, and it's too bad that he couldn't steal the day.
Update: added cyclingnews summary, and I also wanted to note (now that I've watched my TiVo recording of the event) that Armstrong predicted Horner to win the race while being interviewed at the start of the race. Not bad.
Tyler Hamilton has had an eventful year. After breaking his collarbone in the Tour de France and gutting it out to a top 5 finish, healing, then crashing at the Tour of Holland, gashing his finger, and breaking his leg (Hamilton journal entry), it looks like the ironman will be taking up the helm of up-and-comers Phonak. I've only seen Phonak in a race once, but it looked like they are trying hard to get their name in the spotlight, and according to Hamilton's journal entry, their focus will be the Tour de France. Cool
I'm excited - I got to see Lance Armstrong race for the first time in my life. He didn't win, but the race was still a blast and he put in a good effort. Armstrong quotes at the end of the race said that it was basically a race of attrition, and he wasn't able to put enough distance on Charles Dionne on the final hills. Lance was pretty much stunned that Dionne won the race; it was pretty much "Charles who?" IMHO, Charles Dionne cherry picked his was to the race win. I didn't see him pulling ever, though that might be my bias.
I also got to see Robin Williams. Some stupid PR person decided that it would be a good idea to give the super-rich Robin Williams a Saturn. Robin Williams responded as best he could: "[the Saturn] will go nice in my garage, and its cheap" Gary Fisher and some Olympic athletes were also there to do a quick short lap race.
Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France for the fourth year in a row (first American to do so). His total time was 82 hours, 5:12.
- First took Yellow jersey in 1st moutain stage at La Mongie (Pyrenees)
- nearly doubled lead next day at Plateau de Beille (Stage 12)
- expanded lead by 45 sec in final 3 mountain stages
- won final stage (TT) by nearly a minute
- Team: ONCE
- Points: McEwen (280)
- Climber: Jalabert (262)
- Combative: Jalabert (100)
- Youth: Basso (82 hours, 24:30)
- 31 mile stage
- Regnie-Durette to Macon
- 1h 3m 50m
- 15th tour stage victory of career
- lead increaed from 5'06 to 7'17
Lance Armstrong still in the lead, 2:28 over Beloki
I took viagra before the race... I should be able to race hard and long
- Robin Williams, SF Grand Prix