Results tagged “San Jose” from spare cycles

Spooky Spooktrackular

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proc1IMG_2188This isn't the first time the Friday Night Series has been under the sky of summer fires, but I haven't seen skies like this. I tried to keep the editing on a lot of these to a minimum so you can appreciate the Spooktrackular-ness.

You can read some summaries from Hernando, Beth, Peterson, and Hanan.

Friday Night Spooktrackular Photos

Hellyer Velodrome Practice

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Today was my first day at the track, both behind the camera and on the fixie. I definitely forgot to keep pedaling several times, but luckily -- for me and the rider behind me -- I stayed upright. Pounding around in the drops lap after lap is kinda hard on the body, I have to say, but fun for the speed.

As for the photos, I tried all sorts of stupid camera tricks (pans, zoom pans, slow sync flash) to see what sort of variation I could bring. About 90% of it ended up as blurry junk. Track is even easier than short track MTB in terms of shooting difficulty, but you have to push a lot harder to make it interesting. Hellyer Velodrome is outdoors so I couldn't get that quintessential night blur effect that you see in shot after shot coming out of the World's right now. I could imagine taking some fun shots during the night sessions.

Hellyer Velodrome Practice Gallery

Photos: Mt Hamilton

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Lead Group - (c) Ken Conley
Photos by Ken Conley

Grupetto on Mount Hamilton - (c) Ken Conley

Chechu lead a group of Leipheimer, Gesink, Zabriskie, Millar, Horner, and others, Cancellara and Voigt chased close behind, and The Rock Racing Three (Hamilton, Botero and Sevilla) rode ten minutes up the road. The fog rolled in and out, chunks of snow were present, and I bumped my focus settings and botched a shot that I spent 2 hours waiting for -- Photoshop to the rescue!

Levi Leipheimer - (c) Ken Conley Robert Gesink - (c) Ken Conley Fabian Cancellara - (c) Ken Conley Rock Racing - (c) Ken Conley Tom Danielson - (c) Ken Conley Scott Nydam - (c) Ken Conley

Gesink Wins - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Stage 3 Photo Gallery

Mount Hamilton was a big addition to today's stage, but the results were eerily familar -- so much so that Fritz of Cyclelicio.us was able to pull one of my 2007 photos for his stage 3 summary. Last year it was Levi, Voigt, and Gesink over the top of Sierra Road. The trio survived and Voigt easily took the sprint. This time around, Levi and Gesink were lucky to leave Voigt behind and negotiate a rider's agreement: Gesink took the stage, Levi the overall lead. From comments Leipheimer made after the stage, it sounds like Astana and Rabobank had worked this possibility out the night before.

With Farrar being a sprinter, it was well expected that the overall lead would be up for grabs. This came sooner than expected, however, as Farrar dropped out with a stomach bug. Farrar had hoped to transfer the jersey to Danielson, but Danielson was already far behind on the Mount Hamilton climb. Millar and Zabriskie had good rides and are both within striking distance to take the lead at the Solvang time trial. Fabian Cancellara also rode in with Millar and Zabriskie and sits in a close second at 13 seconds back.

Mario Cipollini - (c) Ken Conley Scott Nydam - (c) Ken Conley Gesink Podium - (c) Ken Conley Gesink Podium - (c) Ken Conley Gesink Podium - (c) Ken Conley George Hincapie - (c) Ken Conley

Stage 3 Photo Gallery

A day on Sierra Road

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Sierra Road
Photo by Ken Conley

above: one of the many cows that line the Sierra Road climb

Sierra Road was a hard climb for me last year. I hadn't even done Old La Honda yet, so being hit with a 15% grade was more than my body knew how to deal with. I took my time. I think I was more prepared this year, but I decided to up the ante by carrying 10-20 lbs of gear, including a tripod. To compound my foolishness, I didn't tighten my rear skewer enough so my tire rubbed against brake for the first kilometer -- I discovered this after taking an overheating break and being unable to get my rear wheel spinning again -- and I also climbed in my second chainring when I thought I was using my granny gear. Sierra Road was steeper than I remembered, but I finally made it up.

Saul RaisinIt was a long and cold wait at the top, but we were entertained by Shimano throwing out free jackets and Toyota passing out cowbells, thundersticks, and chalk. More riders showed up the closer the race got and it was a fun and friendly atmosphere. Saul Raisin sped by on his Raisin Hope Ride and was gone in the blink of an eye.

We watched the helicopters to tell us how close the riders were -- the marshals told us they were climbing at 10-12mph (I averaged 4mph). When the big moment came, it was over before you knew it. Everyone bunched onto the road so you couldn't see anyone approaching. There was a sudden parting and my eyes registered Levi's golden jersey flying past. I also saw McCartney and Horner and figured that the CSC rider must have been Jens Voigt from the occassional race update we got. The photos below were probably the most difficult of any I've taken the whole Tour:

Robert Gesink at the top of Sierra Road Jens at the top of Sierra Road Levi and Jason over the top, KOM

It became easier to spot the later groups as people didn't crowd the roads as much. Julich came over in a large group with Bettini. Then there were a lot of riders by themselves or in small groups. And then there was Basso and Cancellara in a fairly large group and, even further back, Tom Danielson with a bunch of Liquigas riders -- Danielson must have been putting in some big efforts today (correction: food poisoning). Near the very end was Discovery sprinter Allan Davis, who I'm told helped Discovery nail back the breakaway. His long day ended back on the podium with another green jersey.

With the last riders past us, we were free to begin our descent. Its fun to descend a road that you know is relatively car free, especially with other riders to accompany you. It got a little iffy when I locked up my rear end going around one of the tighter bends, but we made it to the bottom safe and sound despite our hurried pace. Riders were already crossing the base of Sierra Road on Piedmont, so we knew that we didn't have much time.

Sierra Road
Photo by Ken Conley

above: from the top of Sierra Road, you can make out San Jose City Hall where the riders finish

Al drove like a madman and we were able to make it to San Jose City Hall in record time. We had a feeling we were already too late, though, when we could see the helicopter swing around onto Santa Clara. We hopped back on our bikes and rode over to City Hall, but the first two big groups of riders had already come it. We watched the stragglers roll in and then made it over to the team cars. Lance Armstrong was just getting off the Discovery Channel bus and ran over to a waiting van to avoid fans. There wasn't much to see as the riders were already aboard their team buses. Allan Davis rolled in and then quickly back out as I'm sure he was informed that he needed to get over to the awards presentation, which is where we next headed, but not before I snapped a photo of this Team Slipstream/Chipotle dog:

Slipstream

Awards ceremony (shot from an awkward position):

Levi Leipheimer, overall leader Stage winner Jens Voigt

The Tour podium a bit to close to the ceiling:

Jens Voigt

There was one last errand to do while at the finish line. I'll talk about it in my next entry.

amgen.tour.2007.route.gifThe route for the 2007 Amgen Tour of California has been released. It shares similar elements from the 2006 event, such as the Coit Tower prologue, stage finish in Santa Rosa, and a stage 3 climb up Sierra Road with finish in front of San Jose City Hall. Other details are quite notably different. The time trial has been shifted from stage 3 to stage 5, most likely due to the decisiveness of the stage last year. As a result, the TT will occur in Solvang, so us Bay Area folk will have a bit more of a trip than last year's San Jose doubleheader. There are still no mountaintop finishes, which means that the TT will probably maintain its decisive role.

Summary of changes: * Prologue and Stage 1: appear to be identical * Stage 2: Added new stage between Santa Rosa and Sacramento. Last year stage 2 started in Concord and featured the Sierra Road climb * Stage 3: Sierra Road climb shifted to this stage, with stage start in Stockton instead of Concord. Time trial moved to stage 5. * Stage 4: Appears to be identical to previous Seaside/San Luis Obispo route. * Stage 5: New time trial in Solvang. Still mostly flat. * Stage 6: Instead of 4 KOM climbs from Santa Barbara to Thousand Oaks, it is now 4 KOM climbs to Santa Clarita. * Stage 7: Conclusion now in Long Beach instead of in Redondo Beach

Amgen Route Announcement and Details

Tour of California: Stage 3

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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

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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.

Tour of California update

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Tour of CaliforniaAl and I went to the Tour of California Stage 2/3 route announcement at the San Jose City Hall Rotunda. There was a lot of speeches for very, very little information, but it looks like the best place to grab a spot for stage 2 will be on Sierra Rd. I've driven up Sierra Rd before and it's steep. I'm hoping to catch the riders climbing up that, then hop in my car and make it to downtown San Jose for the finish. It's hard to tell if this is possible. Despite all the speechifying about wanting lots of spectators, they didn't give out any information about estimated arrival times, instructions on when the roads would be closed off, or where the good lookout areas are.

Stage 3 is a bit easier to figure out. The riders will start on Bailey Ave and do a 17 mile loop consisting of McKean Rd, Uvas Rd, Oak Glen Ave, Willow Springs Rd, Hale Ave, and Santa Teresa Ave, ending at Los Paseos Park. I'm hoping to watch riders going up the McKean Rd. hill and then darting over to the finish line. The area is pretty darn remote (near IBM Almaden/Bernal Rd), so there may not be enough road to cut between different parts of the course.

They said to expect another big announcement in a week or so, presumably another major team that's entering. Last week, CSC announced they would be racing with Zabriskie, Julich, and Vande Velde. Gerolsteiner, Discovery, T-Mobile, Phonak, Saunier Duval-Prodir, and Lotto have also been announced, so the field already looks to be really good.