Results tagged “Sierra Road” from spare cycles

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 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

Sierra Road video


Tour of California: Riders crest Sierra Road on Vimeo

Al shot video for me at the top of Sierra Road. You get to hear but not see Levi/Voigt/Horner/McCartney/Gesink come through -- as I've previously mentioned, they came through fast, and the crowds also blocked line of sight. Al then wisely took to holding the tripod in the air, which provided some better views. I of course step in front of the camera several times and mess up the shot.

I'm not sure you can tell much detail the way Google Video compresses this. I'll try to replace with a Vimeo upload tomorrow. Update: Now using Vimeo with slightly better results. Google Video link if you want to download.

A day on Sierra Road

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:


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.

Sierra Road tomorrow


Sierra Climb-1-1

Sierra Road won't be a pivotal climb, but it will shake things up a bit. The KOM is positioned too far from the San Jose finish line and there are too many straight open roads to allow anyone to realistically stay away after going over the top. Levi tried to have them change the course so that they would go up Sierra Road twice and finish at the top, but the organizers aren't amenable to mountain-top finishes yet.

Last year featured Bernhard Kohl and Leipheimer going over first, with Zabriskie, Landis, Hincapie, Horner, Julich, and another dozen-or-so riders linking up on the descent. Based on who made it in the lead pack last year, we could expect to see Leipheimer there with Hincapie, McCartney, and Danielson. Basso, of course, has the legs for it as well. From CSC, I would expect Bobby Julich and Christan Vandevelde. T-Mobile's Mick Rogers will probably make it over and we could at least see Michael Barry with him. Bernhard Kohl is riding for Gerolsteiner and may wish to reassert his KOM status, but I wouldn't rule out Slipstream continuing their ToC success and trying to keep Peterson in the KOM lead.

A dark horse for tomorrow's stage is Ben Jacques-Maynes. He's local, he knows the climb. Last year he tried to convert that into a successful breakaway attempt that launched itself well before Sierra Road, but he was caught half-way up the climb. This time, with the overall leader's jersey within grasp, a more conservative strategy could still net him the lead.

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 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.

Stage 2/Sierra Road info


stage 2 profile

Al tracked down some info on spectating along Sierra Road, which is the site of the Tour of California's first big category 1 climb:

  • there is no public car parking along Sierra Road
  • Sierra Road will be closed to car traffic beginning at 9am on Tuesday
  • bicycle traffic will be allowed until 15 minutes before the racers arrive
  • There are several places where you can park near the bottom of the hill and there is also a light rail station nearby.

It would appear that Al and I will be testing our own legs in ascending the climbs ourselves. My photos will be evidence of how far we make it up. The official Stage 2 info page estimates the actual arrival time on Sierra Road between 1:45 and 2:13PMm, with the San Jose finish about 40 minutes after that.