Results tagged “George Hincapie” from spare cycles

Much has been made over the denial of Hincapie's yellow jersey, in part due to Astana setting a high enough tempo to keep the break reachable, and the rest due to AG2R and Garmin vigorously chasing in the final kilometers. In fact, every interview that Versus did this morning focused on this rather than the upcoming explosive stage.

I make less of Astana's efforts -- I do think in Astana's analysis, AG2R was too weak to chase the break down and it wasn't like HTC-Columbia was going to come to the front to set things up for the sprint. I do think that Garmin was a major factor in reeling it in -- Zabriskie and Pate had enough firepower to make up the 5-second difference.

Garmin has offered this reason for the chase: there had been splits in the peloton that cost them GC time in previous stages, so they wanted to ride a hard tempo and keep their guys up front.

Bruyneel stomped all over Garmin's reasoning this morning, instead claiming that the move made no strategic sense whatsoever. While I think Garmin's reasons were bunk (this wasn't a sprint stage, AG2R wasn't going to cause a split in the peloton), I disagree with Bruyneel's analysis: it made plenty of sense.

Sure, HTC-Columbia is a more successful team than Garmin if you count stage wins, but HTC-Columbia has no viable GC contender. Garmin, on the other hand, has two GC guys: Bradley Wiggins and Christian Vandevelde.

So here's my theory as to why it made plenty of strategic sense: if Hincapie had been in yellow, HTC-Columbia would have been forced to defend the yellow jersey today. HTC-Columbia, unlike AG2R, is fresh enough and has the firepower to really put on a show of defense, even if holding the jersey was an unlikely result of the day.

From Garmin's perspective, it's far better off keeping the yellow jersey with AG2R, because AG2R is weak enough that Astana has to keep coming to the front and tiring themselves out. If HTC-Columbia had the jersey, Astana may have been able to keep a couple more cards in the deck for the final assault, rather than spend them keeping any breaks at the proper range.

As it was, Astana really only needed the Contador card to play. Saxo and Garmin set the climb up, but it was Contador who delivered. Nevertheless, Garmin's Bradley Wiggins delivered the GC ride of his life and it's Garmin, not HTC-Columbia, who has the chance at seeing themselves on the podium in Paris.

"Chance of a Lifetime"

|
George Hincapie - (c) Ken Conley

The story of today can be summarized via Twitter (5 seconds!):

@lancearmstrong: St14 done. Sounds like there's quite a bit of confusion over this one... Noone, and I mean noone, wanted George in yellow more than me.

@lancearmstrong: Our team rode a moderate tempo to put him in the jersey by at least 2 mins. Ag2r said they would not defend then they started to ride.

@lancearmstrong: Until 10km to go he was solidly in yellow until GARMIN put on the gas and made sure it didn't happen.

@lancearmstrong: And I reiterate. @ghincapie deserves to be yellow tonight. He deserves more than that. Look to who pulled the last 50k to see who to blame..

@lancearmstrong: @bfogelstrom And george should be pissed. Very pissed. He can talk to his teammates who were n the bunch w/ us then perhaps it will be clear

@dzabriskie: Pawns in their game...

@lancearmstrong: @bbelshaw told astana 2 chase? Not true @ all. My vision was george would have YJ by 2 mins. Was reality til ag2r and garmin started 2 pull.

@lancearmstrong: Last thing. There were 13 guys in the breakaway. We had 2 guys riding "tempo". That is not chasing by any stretch of the imagination.

Olympians

|

Levi and DZ - (c) Ken Conley

USA Cycling announced most of the Olympic roster today. Several womens' selections won't be announced until July 15.

Men's Road Race

  • Levi Leipheimer
  • George Hincapie
  • Jason McCartney
  • Christian Vande Velde
  • Dave Zabriskie

Men's TT

  • Levi Leipheimer
  • Dave Zabriskie

Women's TT and Road

  • Kristin Armstrong
  • Two more TBA

Men's MTB

  • Todd Wells
  • Adam Craig

Women's MTB

  • Georgia Gould
  • One more TBA

Men's Track

  • Michael Blatchford
  • Bobby Lea
  • Taylor Phinney
  • Adam Duvendeck
  • Michael Friedman
  • Giddeon Massie

Women's Track

  • Sarah Hammer
  • Jennie Reed

See the USA Cycling press release for more.

Rollin gets revenge on Hincapie

|

Hincapie and Rollin - (c) Ken Conley Rollin and Hincapie - (c) Ken Conley

Dominique Rollin took third overall in the Tour of Missouri and was on the receiving end of Hincapie's closing ceremony champagne dump. Today it was Rollin's turn to take the top spot atop the podium after Rollin was able to solo away from Hincapie for the stage victory.

Dominique Rollin Wins - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley
Bixby Bridge - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Stage 4 Photo Gallery

Dominique Rollin took the stage, sprinter's lead, and most aggressive award with a well-timed attack from a break that the Astana was content to leave hanging 2-3 minutes off the front of the peloton for most of the stage. Rollin's exuberance after the stage made up for the gloom, rain, and snot that marked the faces in the rest of the peloton. "It was a crappy day," in the words of Danny Pate.

It was the longest stage in Tour of California history, clocking in at just over seven hours, and the riders spent it in un-Californian conditions. The winds were high enough to shake my car on Highway 1 near Bixby Bridge and sandblast my skin. The rain got worse rather than let up and a dozen riders abandoned on a day that most seemed just interested in surviving. Jackson Stewart left with hypothermia after putting himself into the virtual KOM lead. Sprinters Ivan Dominguez and Henrich Haussler also abandoned as did Slipstream's Tom Danielson. The peloton may have little legs with which to race tomorrow's decisive time trial. I'll have to see if my camera equipment survives the night -- my autofocus was on the fritz at the stage finish.

Stage 4 Photo Gallery

Breakaway from Cancer/Hincapie Podcast

|
Breakaway from Cancer - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

George Hincapie - (c) Ken ConleyErin sent me a link to a George Hincapie podcast that was done on behalf of Breakaway from Cancer. Breakaway From Cancer has been a big part of the day-to-day events in the finishing cities of the Tour of California and Hincapie also participated in a charity ride with them just before the Tour start. In the podcast he talks about his training, his first season with High Road, and, of course, Breakaway from Cancer.

Hincapie to the startBreakaway From Cancer is hosting a 25-mile charity ride with George Hincapie on February 10th. The ride starts at the Stanford Blood Center in Palo Alto and will continue along the Portola Loop. They've amassed some nice fundraising Incentives for those who participate:

  • All fundraisers who raise $400 will receive a Breakaway from Cancer jersey autographed by George Hincapie.
  • All fundraisers who raise $750 will receive access to a special Meet and Greet with George Hincapie before the ride on Sunday, February 10, 2008.
  • The first 10 fundraisers who raise $1,500 will have the opportunity to start in 1st wave and ride with George Hincapie and will receive 2 VIP Hospitality passes for a Bay Area stop of the Amgen Tour of California.
  • The individual who raises the most money will receive a Giant Road Bike and opportunity to ride in the motorcade on one stage of the Amgen Tour of California.

Event Details

Dominguez Wins
Photos by Ken Conley

Hincapie Wins the Overall

Stage 6 Photo Gallery

Ivan Dominguez won convincingly in the final sprint to take the stage win and green jersey while George Hincapie finished his career with Discovery in yellow. Dominguez's wins bookended the inaugural Tour of Missouri while teammate Justin England bookended the Tour in a different way by finishing in the honored last place. Team Slipstream locked up the Team classificiation in a sign that they will be the next USA team to dominate on North American soil.

Dominguez Wins

Brad Huff crashed in the finish but was able to ride across the line. You can just make out him on the ground behind Dominguez while his bike flies off to the left.

Farewell Discovery

Johan Bruyneel Johan Bruyneel Johan Bruyneel

Johan Bruyneel looked on the verge of tears when they brought present and former Discovery-lineage (Motorola-current) players on stage at the end of the race.

Mike Friedman St Louis St Louis Peloton Hincapie Wins the Overall Overall Levi Leipheimer Hincapie and Frishkorn

Ivan Dominguez Navigators Farewell Discovery Peloton

Stage 6 Photo Gallery

Levi Leipheimer
Photo by Ken Conley

Levi Leipheimer Alberto Contador George Hincapie

Alberto Contador

Stage 3 Photo Gallery

I took many photos of riders on the road, except of George Hincapie -- I managed to bump the manual focus switch on my camera as I raised it for the shot, leaving me to only get the one you see above. I tried to get another shot of Hincapie and Levi as they drafted the back of my car on the descent from the finish line, but driving and no-looks photography don't mix. Levi himself was difficult to photograph, in that he showed up 'early' due to the fact that he passed six riders on the road.

I don't have too much to say about the race itself. Most of the details were filled in as I watched the award ceremonies and attended the press conferences. Levi did say that it wasn't his best time trial, so he was happy to win anyway. Hincapie was a bit tired from the break yesterday and was simply happy to have beaten his breakaway companions.

Levi Leipheimer

George Hincapie won the final sprint from a breakaway group of 12. With a gap of over 14 minutes on the rest of the peloton, it seems fairly certain that Hincapie will take the overall -- there's no Brasstown Bald's in this state. That's not to say that the Tour of Missouri is flat. Having spent much of today driving from Kansas City to Springfield, I can attest to the fact that there is nothing flat about this state. Rather, it is... rolling, with lots of roadkill armadillos. Personally, I would be driven mad riding up and down for 120 miles past roadkill.

I hate to see a game-over stage happen so early, much like occurred in this year's Tour de Georgia, but with most of the other teams represented in the break, it seemed a given that the stage was theirs to contest. That said, I'm surprised the other riders let Hincapie up there with them. Once I heard he was in the break, I figured it was his stage for the taking.

Update: I just read on VeloNews that a dead armadillo caused a crash and broken collarbone for BMC rider Dan Schmatz. I wasn't kidding about the large quantities of dead armadillos folks.

Hincapie to T-Mobile

|

hincapie.tmobileHincapie seemed to just be waiting for news of the official demise: Hincapie Officially Joins T-Mobile. Neil@ROAD got the scoop from Greenville.

It will be weird seeing him wear the T-Mobile pink instead of the Discovery black and blue, though he'll be riding alongside Michael Barry once more. Maybe he'll get another national champion jersey and it will be the same.

Amazingly, Vaitkus is the only rider not to start (shattered thumb). Everyone else is "sore" (quotes from cyclingnews live report):

  • Thor: "Thor fell heavily on his right side and has damaged his sciatic nerve. He has pain but he's a tough rider who will still be our protected man again today." A thousand PMU green hands couldn't take Thor out.
  • Hincapie: Sore knee
  • Bennati: Sore hip but will start. "We have decided that it’s best for him to take it easy today and instead of working for Daniele - the team’s objective is to protect Danilo Napolitano instead."
  • Fast Freddie: Sore collarbone. See also: Fast Freddie saved by Ti?](http://www.velonews.com/tour2007/news/articles/12658.0.html)
  • Cancellara: Sore wrist, but still strong enough to grab the stuffed lion and hoist the flowers. Vande Velde diary: "The Swiss bear was down but not out, he came back to dinner, loud as ever, turning on Shakira full blast during dinner. And to make it worse, he tries to sing along."
  • Cavendish: Sore left knee
  • McEwen: Stiff knee and back from Stage 1
  • Quinziato: Multiple contusions
  • Forster: Cut to left elbow. "Tonight it starts to hurt," he wrote, "I am all taped up and bathed in ice." (source)
  • Schleck: Sore elbow -- he's been riding near the back of the peloton, chatting away

Tour de France '07 Prologue: London

|
cancellara.jpg

Cancellara did his world champion stripes proud. After Kloden set a shockingly fast time on the day that no one could beat, Cancellara came in a full 13 seconds faster -- the only rider to crack the nine-minute barrier. The is Cancellara's second Prologue win and turn in yellow -- TdF fans may remember Cancellara's tearful victory in the 2004 Tour Prologue when he raced for Fassa Bortolo.

The Great British Hopes Wiggins and Millar couldn't crack the podium. In post-race interviews, Millar seemed to be promising a stage win later on. Not all was good for CSC, either. American favorite Dave Zabriskie was all the way down in tenth place at 9:22 and O'Grady crashed on one of the final turns (redubbed "O'Grady Corner" by Liggett).

Discovery Channel will be happy as Gusev placed well enough to move into the young rider's jersey and Hincapie did America proud by finishing in third. Leipheimer had a respectable 9:30.

Astana should be even happier as Vino is the highest placed overall favorite in 7th (9:20) and Kloden showed amazing form that only Cancellara could trump.

  1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC 8.50 (53.7 km/h)
  2. Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 9.03
  3. George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel 9.13
  4. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Cofidis 9.13
  5. Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Discovery Channel 9.15

Links:

Live stage log after the jump.

Hincapie out for Paris-Roubaix?

|

Hincapie warming upIt would be a terrible result for Hincapie if his broken arm (radius) takes him out of this year's Paris-Roubaix. He was a strong competitor in the 2006 Paris-Roubaix, only to be taken out by a broken steerer tube. The reports are now saying 6-8 weeks for Hincapie to heal and that he will miss the Spring Classics.

I wouldn't be surprised if Hincapie does race Paris-Roubaix. The race is April 15th this year. It's definitely not the first race that you want to do with an arm on the mend, but Hincapie did do almost all of Stage 6 with a broken arm.

Prologue Videos

|

Just in case Versus didn't give you enough coverage, I've posted some videos from the finishing stretch of various riders: Julich, Hincapie, Hushovd, Rogers, Fast Freddie.

NOTE: Video shot by offtopicartistan, with the camera on loan from parakkum. I apologize for my CSC hat blocking the video from time to time.

Zabriskie kicked some butt at 30.4 mph -- no one else cracked the 30mph barrier. Americans dominated the time trial, taking the top four positions, with Landis in second followed by Leipheimer and Hincapie. It looks like Leipheimer got his handlebars squared away this time around.

The effort wasn't enough to put Zabriskie in the lead as Gilbert is strong enough in the time trials to keep a 2'47" lead going into the mountains. I'm looking forward to seeing who has the mountain-climbing legs.

Paris-Roubaix 2006

|

Paris-Roubaix is my favorite of the one-day classics and every year many American cycling fans and I hope to see George Hincapie finally get his win. Paris-Roubaix is one of the toughest races in all of cycling and this year, with the dreaded Arenberg Forest back in the lineup, it continued to demonstrate why. I wouldn't hestitate to call this year's Paris-Roubaix one of the craziest road races I've ever seen.

Paris-Roubaix is somewhat like a videogame. There are 27 sectors of cobblestones the riders must cross as they count down to sector 1. Each sector is rated on a scale of difficulty from one to five stars. There are no real climbs, but it doesn't matter because the gaps between the cobblestones are wicked enough to grab your wheel and flip you into the ground.

Tom Boonen put a huge amount of pressure on the peloton in the infamous Arenberg Forest sector and managed to split off a lead group of seventeen riders that quickly dropped to fourteen. Hincapie was right on Boonen's wheel and had the superior tactical position. Last year, Hincapie had to take on Boonen by himself and wasn't strong enough to counter Boonen's sprint in the finishing velodrome. This year, Hincapie had two teammates -- Hoste and Gusev -- riding alongside him whereas Boonen had none.

So was this finally Hincapie's year? No. The cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix snapped off Hincapie's handlebars. Hincapie threw up his hands in surprise as his bike spun into the side of the road and flipped him into the ground. Hincapie had crashed earlier in the day and there was speculation that the handlebars may have been weakened.

As Discovery Sport Director Johan Bruyneel stood alongside his fallen rider, he had to think quick. Boonen was already attacking in the ensuing chaos and managed to drop Hoste and Gusev. They fought back into the breakaway but Gusev was then sent flying as his wheels got caught in the cobblestones coming around a curve. Luckily, he was able to get back on his bike and join back up. The day wasn't going great for Discovery, but they still had two riders in the lead break.

Another team that had a good tactical position in the lead breakaway was CSC, which had both Fabian Cancellara and Lars Michaelsen. Cancellara attacked and Gusev followed. Both are strong time trialers and set nearly identical times in the Tour of California Stage 3 time trial, but Cancellara was stronger this time around and Gusev slowly lost ground on the cobblestones. Back in Boonen's chase group, Hoste and Lotto's Van Petegem attacked and the isolated Boonen finally showed weakness as he couldn't follow.

Gusev and Hoste linked back up into a group of three with Van Petegem as they tried to chase down Cancellara's lead of half a minute. They weren't doing a very good job pulling Cancellara back, but a train gate came down and disrupted their pursuit even further. The three riders decided to slip around the gates in front of the oncoming train, but Boonen's group had no choice but to wait for the train to pass.

Cancellara easily coasted across the finish line in the velodrome. Even without the train he probably would have held off his chasers and he added another thirty seconds to his lead in the final sectors. The craziness of this year's race wasn't quite over, though: Hoste came across the finish line in second but was disqualified with the rest of his group for going across the train tracks with the gate down. Tom Boonen, who crossed the finish line in fifth, ended up taking second place, beaten, but still on the podium.

Update: some post-Paris-Roubaix reports: * Davitamon is officially protesting Van Petegem's disqualification * Bruyneel: Paris-Roubaix Reflections (Paceline registration required) * Hincapie Update - Post Paris-Roubaix (Paceline registration required) * Trek Discusses Hincapie's P-R Crash (Paceline registration required)

Tour of Flanders 2006

|

Tom Boonen continues to have a ridiculously good year in the World Champion's jersey. His repeat victory at the Tour of Flanders (Ronde van Vlaanderen) will certainly have his stock flying high for a repeat victory at Paris-Roubaix.

QuickStep had all the cards in this one. After several cobblestone sections had whittled the lead group down to the main contenders, QuickStep still had four riders in that group. Three of those riders -- Boonen, Bettini, and Pozzato -- had already won stages this year. Discovery, the next strongest team, only had two riders in this selection: Hincapie and Hoste.

Hoste put in a spur-of-the-moment attack that pretty much guaranteed Boonen the stage victory. With 33km to go, Boonen was the only rider to follow Hoste's attack. Even with Hoste's victory at De Panne just several days prior, there probably isn't a tactic in the world that would have let him beat Boonen. Hincapie might have had a slim chance, but he was forced to sit in the chase group and mark the other riders, including Bettini. Discovery still managed second and third place, which is probably the best result that could have played out on this day. Hincapie sounded a bit disappointed in the post-race interviews to have been stuck back in the chase group, but this was Belgian territory and it was up to the Belgians to duke it out.

Hincapie will certainly have Hoste's full support in Paris-Roubaix. Unfortunately, he probably won't have Roger Hammond, who got 14 stitches to his knee, and he certainly won't have Michael Barry, who will be out for several months with face and vertebrae injuries. The cobblestones are wicked.

Podium-1-4There's been no lack of Americans in the cycling spotlight post-Lance. Levi, Hincapie, and Landis put in great Tour of California performances. Landis took the Paris-Nice overall and Julich took the prologue. It would have been nice to see Horner, Danielson and Zabriskie get some early spotlght, but the main event is still months away.

I thought I'd take an early stab at making some predictions for the Tour de France. "Predict early, predict often." That way I get more chances to pretend I was right. Fat Cyclist went bolder and did a full set of early predictions for the Tour. I'm just going to focus on the Americans because everyone in America is holding their breath to see if the post-Armstrongians can hold the fort for American cycling.

The gist of my predictions: I don't expect to see any American at the top of that podium in Paris this year. I expect to see many strong performances and stage wins, but we will probably have to wait a couple years. This is hardly a bold prediction. I'll be a little more risky and say that I think you'll see Zabriskie, Julich, and Landis all in yellow jerseys this year. Zabriskie because he's fast. Julich because this is one of his last chances to get one. Landis because his combined time trial and mountain climbing ability gives him a good chance of getting one.

There's more specifics if you'd like to read on

Tour of California: Stage 7

|

Olaf Pollack again! Seven stages with three riders (Pollack, Haedo, Hincapie) getting two stage wins a piece. CSC and Lotto tried to get their rides up through the sprint but were outsprinted by Pollack yet again. Pollack's win came with an additional prize: the green sprinter's jersey, which he took away from Hincapie.

Navigators, Prodir, Colativa, and Kodak/Sierra Nevada put riders into an early break that got way ahead due to a crash in the field that was one of the few downpoints of the Tour -- Tom Peterson (Best Young Rider) and Sebastian Lang (yesterday's Most Aggressive Rider) were among those that got scrapped up and Lang had to abandon. The breakaway built up a lead of 7:50 before the peloton started to nail it back.

By all accounts, this looks like it was a very successful inaugural year. The riders were gushing in their post-stage 6 interviews, the California towns were loving the extra visitors, and the attendance may break a million, which makes for both happy organizer and happy fans. And what's not to like? It's freezing cold in Belgium, where many of the pro team teammates are off racing Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne and Omloop Het Volk, and, as Floyd Landis put it, where else can you race everyday and eat an In-n-Out burger afterwards?

Stage profile (from official Amgen Tour of California site):

stage 7 profile

Tour of California: Stage 5

|

Hincapie again! (very similar again, in fact)

This was a fairly predictable stage. Going back to my previous entry, Voigt (CSC) did go on a breakaway along with Ekimov (Discovery), Lang (Gerolsteiner), and Reistad (Jelly Belly), but they were all caught on the final climb. Leipheimer attacked and took the KOM lead. The peloton then came back together on the descent and all of Discovery went up to the front, setting up another sprint win for Hincapie. Leipheimer's attack for the KOM points was a threat to Landis' lead, but Levi probably didn't expect to get away for the stage win (update: he didn't, but he went for it anyway... and he didn't care about the KOM points but they'll defend it now). Barring any major incident, Landis has it all wrapped up. Maybe we'll get to see Gord Fraser get a stage win or Haedo could go for a hat trick.

There some rearrangement in the non-GC classifications. Hincapie took back the the green sprinter's jersey from Haedo and Leipheimer's attack on the final climb got him the KOM jersey that he wanted.

Today was the first day that I got to really try out the live coverage on the Amgen Tour of California site. Very, very nice. The live video feed wasn't working for me yesterday but it came in fairly well today, except near the end of the race, where perhaps a lot of people decided to start tuning in. Wish the Grand Tours (Giro/Vuelta/Tour) would have live video and status updates of the same caliber. It saves me from having to listen to Bob Roll mispronounce for an hour.

Stage links: * VeloNews Stage 5 summary * DailyPeloton Stage 5 summary * Stage 5 results * DailyPeloton Stage 5 Rider Comments (including Julich blog) * Levi Leipheimer Stage 5 journal * Graham Watson Stage 5 Gallery * Grassy Knoll Stage 5 media * Team CSC Stage 5 video

Stage profile (from official Amgen Tour of California site):

stage 5 profile

Tour of California: Stage 3

|

Landis Warming Up-1 Landis Approaching the Finish Line-1 Landis, Julich, Zabriskie, Tour of California Podium

The stage 3 time trial was a thrill. Fabian Cancellara, Vladimir Gusev, and Nathan O'Neill set the big times on the day before the final flight of main contenders. O'Neill was the one who showed that the 37-minute barrier could be broken with his time of 36:55. These times were a lot slower than expected, which can be attributed to a big headwind and yesterday's grueling Sierra Road climb.

Jens Voigt Approaching the First Climb-1 Vladimir Gusev Near the Finish-1 Stage 3-01

The first of the main contenders to get things roarding was Dave Zabriskie, who got the crowd charged as the announcer shouted out that DZ had the fastest time by 31 seconds. With that margin I thought for sure that my pick for the stage winner (DZ, of course) was solid, but then Floyd Landis came screaming in 26 seconds faster -- the first (and only) run to break the 36-minute barrier. Landis' margin was so big that the remaining contenders were losing with 1km to go: Julich, Leipheimer, Hincapie. Julich was following the curb so close that I didn't even see him until the last second, but those extra road savings weren't enough. Hincapie had a huge press fleet of cars following him, but nothing ahead to stop the wind.

Chris Horner nears the finish-1 Hincapie on final approach-1

Floyd Landis' 29-second lead in the overall is large enough that his fellow riders don't seem to think there is much chance left as there remaining stages aren't challenging enough to produce big gaps. Landis has looked strong in every stage so far, so even on a tough stage it seems doubtful that he'd be caught out. The only chance I see is taking advantage of the weaker Phonak team. A lack of teammates cost Leipheimer on stage 2. CSC or Discovery could use their deep rosters to really challenge Landis much like Discovery did in the Tour de Georgia when they launched Danielson to victory. At the very least, CSC needs some sort of victory to take away from this inaugural event: Gerolsteiner, Discovery, and Phonak already have had their stage wins and leader's jerseys.

Ekimov isn't competing for the overall, but I like this photo enough that I'm just going to paste it here:

Ekimov nears the finish-1

Read on for a photo summary of my day at Stage 3.

Tour of California: Stage 2

|

Sierra Climb-1-1

Hincapie in the Leader's JerseyStage 2 was as big as it was supposed to be, with George Hincapie taking the stage win and overall lead. Those of us who watched from the top of Sierra Road thought that Levi Leipheimer had the advantage and would protect his jersey. Leipheimer, Landis, and Kohl were over the top first, with a long string of riders behind them. Cycling is a team sport, though, and it was the combined might of Discovery that won out. Michael Barry and Jason McCartney pulled Hincapie over the top and on the descent they managed to link up with Tom Danielson, who was in front of them. A nineteen-man group formed that was able to slowly reel in Leipheimer, Landis, and Kohl. Michael Barry launched George Hincapie across the finish line for first place. Chris Horner followed in second, later saying that he didn't realize that he had a teammate on his wheel to help out. CSC had Zabriskie, Julich, and Vande Velde in the same group, but none were capable of outsprinting Hincapie and the various breakaway attempts on the final stretch failed.

Part of me was cheering for Ben Jacques-Maynes, a local Kodak rider who had his eyes set on the San Jose stages. He made a go of it with a three-man breakaway with Michael Creed and Mads Kaggestad, but Gerolsteiner was able to reel them in on the Sierra Road climb.

Podium-1-3 Hincapie Points Kohl KOM

Video (shot by Al at 200m from the summit):

The thing to note from these videos is that Levi had no teammates closeby, Hincapie had three immediate teammates and two more not too far behind.

Stage links:

Stage Profile (from official Amgen Tour of California site):

Read on for a personal account of the race from the top of Sierra Road down to the bottom and then over to the podium presentation, as well as personal photos from the race.

Barclays SF Grand Prix 2005

|

Al, Jill, d and I went to the Barclays San Francisco Grand Prix on Sunday. There was no Armstrong this year due to retirement, but there were plenty of big names to go and watch: Basso, Hincapie, Leipheimer, Horner, and Zabriskie. Zabriskie only did a couple of laps due to prior injury to his right hand and Basso dropped out as well, but the rest raced strong.

The race was dominated by Team Discovery, which sent Michael Creed on an early breakaway as a carrot for the other riders to chase. Creed stayed away for nearly 50 miles before being caught by a breakaway that included his teammates Jason McCartney and Ryder Hesjedal, along with HealthNet's John Lieswyn. Hesjedal and Creed couldn't hold on and it was McCartney and Lieswyn that looked in control of the race. They were caught on the final lap by Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann, who had tag-teammed with his teammate Andrea Molette to catch the lead pair. Wegmann had better sprinting legs and became the first non-North American to win the race.

Finishing Sprint

If you want more of a summary, I suggest reading the VeloNews article.

For all intents and purposes I had an all-access pass to this year's race. The security guards seemed not to notice me sneaking past them, though I had help from Al and Jill who had tickets into the VIP section. They fed me food from the VIP tents and we shook hands with OLN commentator Bob Roll. d and I both managed to sneak into the grandstands to watch the finishing sprint (Al scouted out the position of the guards) and then we jumped into the photographers-only area in front of the podium for the prize presentation. We then went over to the CSC tent and managed to get autographs from Dave Zabriskie, Ivan Basso, and Bjarne Riis. Al had found a wristband on the ground and decided that sending in Jill was the best strategy, which turned out beautfully. Their CSC hat has got a bunch of great signatures on it and my backpack has a left-handed Dave Zabriskie signature (his right hand is injured), which is charming in its own way.

autograph autograph hat

(note: I didn't have any photos of Basso to get autographed so I printed this one taken by Flickr user wuertele)

Partial photo listing (full photoset). d should also have photos of the event, which will hopefully be posted as well:

Hincapie! Since 1999 Hincapie has ridden for Armstrong in the Tour, helping Armstrong to many victories but never taking one for himself. With this being Armstrong's final Tour, it's about time that Hincapie gets his just rewards for his hardwork. It probably wasn't in the playbook for Hincapie to take the stage, but as things shaped up on the penultimate climb things just got better and better for Discovery. The other riders isolated Armstrong again, but the attacks were less spirited. Eventually it was just Armstrong and Basso, while up the road Hincapie's breakaway kept getting smaller and smaller. Hincapie didn't have to do any work in the breakaway, which left him with fresher legs with which to easily outsprint Pereiro for the victory.

This was the 'queen' stage of the Tour -- no stage has quite as many leg-punishing climbs. Discovery sent Hincapie in the early breakaway of 14 riders, which was slowly whittled down over each of the day's big climbs. Discovery probably wanted to put Hincapie in the break for two reasons: 1) to force other teams to chase the breakaway and 2) to have an extra teammate for Armstrong available if the breakaway was chased down -- with all the isolation attacks on Armstrong, a good way to counter them is to just place a teammate further up the road. The strategy worked better than planned. CSC and T-Mobile did give chase and they did repeat their isolation attacks on Armstrong on the Col de Val-Louron Azet. After those attacks was Armstrong, Ullrich, and Basso. Some riders caught up on the descent, but it was quickly those three again as they attacked up the Pla d'Adet. Ullrich looked good, but eventually he could hold on no longer, and it was just Armstrong and Basso.