Results tagged “photos” from spare cycles

Procycling February 2010

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Procycling Feb 2010 Procycling Feb 2010 Procycling Feb 2010 Procycling Feb 2010 Procycling Feb 2010 Procycling Feb 2010 Procycling Feb 2010

I got eleven photos in the most recent issue of Procycling, in both the Joe Parkin interview and a Levi's Gran Fondo article. The Joe Parkin interview was especially fun -- it's not often that I get to shoot less than a mile from my house at the local coffee shop. If I screwed that up I would be packing my camera bags up for good.

It's a bit of a surprise -- I knew I had been picked up in two articles, but I didn't expect them to be in the same issue. It's harder for my work to appear across the pond due to my more limited time commitments, so this is a nice way of ending the dry spell.

It wouldn't have been possible without some American writers pointing out my work. Thanks Gary Boulanger and Jason Sumner!

I just finished reading Joe Parkin's A Dog in a Hat, from VeloPress. I highly recommend it as a semi-dark, yet funny and unsentimental look at being an American bike racer in Belgium in the 80s. I meant to write up a full review of it, but this will have to do until time frees up.

Gallery: San Rafael Twilight

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SRT Sunset - (c) Ken Conley
Bahati BW - (c) Ken Conley SRT Church - (c) Ken ConleyCoryn Rivera Wins - (c) Ken Conley San Rafael Twilight - (c) Ken Conley

Click here for more San Rafael Twilight 2009 Photos

16-year-old Coryn Rivera brings her winning ways from SoCal up to NorCal.

Rahsaan Bahati finally gets beat on NorCal soil by TT1's Ken Hanson, with the likes of Ben Jacques-Mayne, Jackson Stewart, Chad Gerlach, Bernard van Ulden, Fast Freddie, and Daniel Ramsey in the field.

Good times and many photographs

Update: Podium Insight's Race Report and Photos

Fritz of cyclelicio.us pointed me towards PicApp, which, if it stays around, is a powerful new tool for bloggers. For example, say I want a photo of yesterday's GC sprint. I search for "Tour de France", bang:

Tour de France 2009 Stage Seven

Say I need a shot of Contador, bang:

Tour de France 2009 Stage Seven

I'm not sure I understand how they are paying for all of this. Licensing for Getty photos at Web resolution costs $50/photo. While I expect they get some discount, I'm not seeing the upfront ads yet that I would expect to try and recoup the costs. But, for this Tour at least, it saves me from having to dig out two-year-old photos from the Tour of California/Georgia/Missouri to illustrate an entry.

American Velodrome Challenge - (c) Ken Conley
American Velodrome Challenge - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Click here for more American Velodrome Challenge 2009 Day 1 Photos

Cari Higgins gets a big photo for winning the Keirin and racing mega-tough in the Points race. Laura McCaughey and Higgins started accelerating heading into the final lap. McCaughey drifted up the lane, Higgins let out a yell and hit the deck. The officials decided to restart the race with five more laps. With a new rear wheel and a side of track rash, Higgins not only restarts, but also leads out the final sprint for her teammate Shelley Olds (above). See the blood that on the right knee? See the ripped arm warmer? See the mismatched rear wheels?

Anway, enjoy the photos. It was an interesting challenge shooting, but not being able to really kneel. Sometimes I like something like that to make me think differently. It was my very first time shooting Madison and I sucked at it. Every prediction I had for where the hand-sling would occur went wrong and I was far too optimistic about being able to shoot it wide.

Santa Cruz Crit 2009

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First lap

Santa Cruz Crit-8

Today was a testing day for me. I hadn't used my camera or flash since getting them back earlier this week from the repair shop, so I wanted to make sure everything in order. My conclusion was that I was in worse working order than the equipment.

My time was limited today so I mostly focused on the Womens 1/2/3 race and left before the Men's Pro race was over. TIBCO really came to play in the women's race, constantly sending riders off the front. Kat Carroll spent quite a bit of time off the front before Alison Starnes took her place and rode solo all the way to the line. Katheryn Curi Mattis nearly single-handedly spoiled their day, bridging up to Carroll and still having enough left in the tank to nearly bring back Starnes.

From what I saw of the men's race, it looked like Daniel Holloway was lighting it on fire.

Click for more Santa Cruz 2009 photos

Menlo Park Grand Prix 2009

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Menlo Park Grand Prix

Holloway Wins-12

Menlo Park Grand Prix-16

Click to see more Menlo Park Grand Prix 2009 Photos

Brooke Miller, Daniel Holloway, case closed.

Tour of California: Race Preparation Photos

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Saxo Bank Specializeds - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Tour of California 2009 Race Preparation Photos (Sacramento)

It's cold and wet up here, but that didn't stop the team mechanics from cleaning and prepping the bikes for tomorrow. Bikes were washed, bar tape redone, and TT bikes cut.

BMC - (c) Ken ConleyGarmin - (c) Ken Conley

Bissell got its ducks in a line (perhaps the ducks thought the wet parking lot was the pond):

Bissell - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Tour of California 2009 Race Preparation Photos (Sacramento)

Ride the World Cup 9/21/2008

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Triplets of Kilun 20080921_4902

Update: Summary from Shelley Olds*

I had some new equipment to test out so I went out to Hellyer to break it in -- I hate going to a big event like Interbike with stuff I've never used before. I took mostly junk as I was practicing some funky techniques, but I do like how I Triplets of Belleville-ized Roman Kilun.

Thanks to Shelley and Nicky for putting on the event -- beer and sausages always goes with photography.

Ride the World Cup 9/28/2008 Photos

New Road Bike Action Issue, Web site

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RBA9.tdg08.Brasstown.Lowe.Levi.jpgThe latest Road Bike Action is out just in time for the Tour de France with plenty of predictions from race and industry experts -- Bob Roll, Kozo Shimano, Jonathan Vaughters, Steve Hed, Fausto Pinarello, Michael Zellman of SRAM, Ming Tan of Look and so on. With Cadel Evans featured on the cover, you can probably guess who the popular pick is, but there were some unorthodox choices as well.

Road Bike Action has also launched roadbikeaction.com, which fills in the two month gap between issues. There's a lot of Tour de France bike articles going on right now as well as a daily Bobke column.

Hubris requires that I point you to the Brasstown Bald article, which features two of the photos you see here. The common -- but unsubstantiated -- rumor right now is that there will be no more Tour de Georgia's, so you may want to read up on one of the US's most (in)famous climbs. The two-page spread of Siutsou looking back at Levi and Lowe was made possible by a 300mm lens lent to me by Paul of Vero Image. I got lucky with the timing: a High Road fan jumped out to run alongside Siutsou as he looked back at Levi, who's gritting his teeth in his Captain America kit. The 300mm really makes sure you can catch moments like this. I'm pretty sure a monkey with two broken hands could take a good shot with that lens.

I also got the Last Shot with a photo of Hincapie drafting off the team car to get back on the paceline during the Road Atlanta warmups. It was my first time on moto -- I had probably been on the bike less than five minutes -- so I was glad I got anything usable there. Even on the smooth race course it was hard to hold my camera still.

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

Friday Night Hoedown at Hellyer

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Friday Nights at Hellyer

Friday Nights at Hellyer

Alden Tanaka procIMG_1728

Hoedown at Hellyer Hoedown at Hellyer

Last night was a Velogirls/La Dolce Velo sponsored Hoedown @ Hellyer. Hoedown + Velogirls + Hellyer = Hernando in a pink cowboy hat and Velogirls skinsuit. The Friday Night Series keeps getting bigger and bigger -- gotta get there early if you want the tasty food.

I went to great lengths to not take the same photos I took last week.This meant turning off my flash a bunch, less work with the telephoto, incorporating more of the track into my photos, and holding my camera upside down on occasion so that the flash would bounce off the track (example 1, example 2). It took some adjusting to fire with the left hand while zooming with the right, but it seemed to intensify the streak-effect in the non-focal area of the image.

Hoedown @ Hellyer Photos

See also: Kurt Harvey's Photos

Road Bike Action - Portfolio

I was happy to see this photo get the "Last Shot" honors for the issue -- I spent a whole lotta reel on a whole lotta riders trying to get the exact composition I wanted. As a freelancer for Road Bike Action, I know that I only need to take one good photo a stage -- this is a lot nicer than having to work for a team, where I have to have a gallery's worth of photos, all of riders from one team.

I setup on this corner early in the stage to see if this could be it. There were three basic things I wanted to tie together: the windmill, the tree, and a rider perfectly leaning with the curve of the road. If there were 100 more riders, I probably would have taken 100 more takes, but I needed to start shooting riders' faces instead of behinds as the rider order got higher and higher in the standings.

Road Bike Action - Portfolio

This was a painful shot to take, mostly due to poor planning on my part. I saw a tree up on Trinity Grade and figured it would be the vantage point that would get me the most fan ambiance. I tapped a fan on the shoulder to ask for help getting up the tree -- lo and behold, it was Levi's dad, who made sure I didn't crack a lens (or worse) as I climbed up. I enjoyed chatting with him while up in that tree as well as at the Tour de Georgia.

About twenty minutes later the error in my planning became evident -- the riders weren't going to show up for another half hour, and my thighs were starting to burn. I debated climbing down, but despite skipping Al's core conditioning classes, I somehow thought I had it in me to stay up there. I leaned down in a TT-like position to use my arms to support my weight, but that only made my shoulders hurt as well. By the time Nydam charged up the hill my legs were shaking and my arms were tired, but you don't need much strength to push a shutter button.

Road Bike Action - PortfolioThe last shot I got in the issue was of the Governator and Cipollini, the meeting of their glamorous personalities. I try to remember not to get too bored with podium shots because they're easier to get published. It's pretty easy to pay attention, though, when those two are on stage.

Look - Bike porn gets around

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I'm dumbfounded a bit to see my photos of the Look 586 Mondrian circulate on the Web. I originally took the photos as a last-minute favor for a post on roadbikereview. How could I turn down a chance to play with a limited edition (1 of 50) bike way out of my budget?

Now the photos are on the worldwide Look Web site as well as on VeloNews. I've always wanted to get my photos in a VeloNews article, but now I really wish I got every beam of lighting perfect. Such is the nature of hindsight and experience. Next time, next time.

Stage 1 Bikes/Pre-Race

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Rock Racing - (c) Ken Conley Marco Polo - (c) Ken Conley

Stage 1: Bikes and Misc

I took quite a few Rock Racing bike photos before the race as they were all nicely lined up for me. The photo on the left is sort of a virtual Rock Racing skull -- each skull is an eye and the bike rack is the nose. Or perhaps I need more sleep.

The old Marco Polo bike (another photo) also caught me eye. It's way cooler than their new design, which is just the Astana blue Madones. Unlike Levi's backup bike, the Disco Logo still flies.

I also snagged some candids as the riders emerged from their hotels:

Chechu Rubiera - (c) Ken Conley Bobby Julich - (c) Ken Conley Tyler Hamilton - (c) Ken Conley

Stage 1: Bikes and Misc

Boggs III (part 2)

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Mad Cat - (c) Ken ConleyMad Cat - (c) Ken Conley
Photos by Ken Conley

The rest of the Boggs III photos are up: the set is now a whopping 300+ photos. These are more sedate compared to my crimes against zoom. If you're Internet connection can handle the load, check 'em out. I would pare down the set, but I wanted to give people a fair shot at seeing a personal photo.

Ronde van Brisbeen Circuit Race 2008

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Freddie Rodriguez - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Men's Cat 3 - (c) Ken Conley Men's Cat 3 - (c) Ken Conley

BMC Break - (c) Ken Conley BMC Break - (c) Ken Conley

yes, I blew the finish shot and tried to hide it with bad creative photoshopping...

Ronde van Brisbeen 2008 Circuit Race Photos

Stage 2 of Ronde van Brisbeen is a 1.7-mile circuit race in the Brisbane Highlands. This year's event was brutal with its smack-you-in-the-face headwind on the climb to the finish. Gusts were strong enough to knock over the hay bales used in the turns.

BMC led an attack on nearly every lap up this climb with Cal Giant covering, which quickly shelled most of the pack. Surprise entry Freddie Rodriguez looked fairly comfortable in the lead group, having just finished off a burrito 15 minutes before race time. BMC sprung a two-man break with Nathan Miller and Brent Bookwalter that quickly gained a minute lead. A Cal Giant rider tried to bridge but the windy conditions were too much. Fast Freddie tried to pull it back, but he eventually found himself accompanied by only two riders: one of them from BMC.

I used this race to practice for the Tour de Georgia. You can probably tell from the gallery what shots I was practicing. I don't like going for the special effects shots too much, but they're fun in small doses.

Results

Ronde van Brisbeen 2008 Circuit Race Photos

Copperopolis 2008

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Copperopolis - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Women's Finish - (c) Ken Conley Copperopolis - (c) Ken Conley

Copperopolis 2008 Photos

Scene: sitting on a hill overlooking the finish, a bike is laying still in the grass. "Popssssssssssshhhhhhhhhh..." One of its tires gives up -- it bore its rider to the finish, but Copperopolis took its toll.

I went out to Copperopolis this year, billed as the Paris-Roubaix of California. Intead of pave, there are roads that were never properly paved, cattle grates, and water bottles dislodged by the bumpy descent. The course itself features beautiful climbs up canyons, a lake, farm lands, vineyards, and rolling green hills. As a photographer, I couldn't be more thrilled that I wasn't riding, especially after I saw so many riders carrying their broken bikes.

Several winners were disqualified for crossing the yellow line at the finish, making it the most decisive part of the course. The yellow line started in the final 100m to the finish and was a bit like putting a driving test at the end of a brutally difficult day.

Pro 1 - (c) Ken Conley

Taylor Tolleson - (c) Ken ConleyThe Pro Men's race was a BMC vs. Cal Giant slugfest. BMC brought Taylor Tolleson, Mike Sayers, Jackson Stewart, Jonathan Garcia, and Scott Nydam among others. Cal Giant brought their armada of 14 riders. Tolleson and Sayers were among the four BMC riders and four Cal Giant riders in the lead break of eleven that started the final lap. I left before the actual finish, but I hear that Tolleson won.

Copperopolis 2008 Photos

Gough and Peterson Memorial Ride

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Memorial Site - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

On a day that was both beautiful and sad, thousands of riders showed up to pay their respects to Matt Peterson and Kristy Gough. Riders moved in a slow procession down Foothill to Stevens Canyon, with the Sheriff's department pitching in road closures and a rolling barricade.

Memorial Ride Photos

Beat the Clock 03/08 Photos

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Beat the Clock 3.15.2008 - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Photos from today's Beat the Clock TT are going up. A little bit of rain on the roads didn't keep riders from coming to test themselves against the clock.

Beat the Clock 03/08 Photo Gallery

Stage 7 Gallery Updated, Yet Again

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I had some computer and time issues at the end of Stage 7. As I recover back home the photos will continue to trickle out, but for now there are some breakaway and peloton photos that have been added to the Stage 7 Photo Gallery.

More Stage 7 Photos: Champagne Fight and More

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Champagne Fight - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Champagne Fight - (c) Ken Conley Slipstream - (c) Ken Conley Levi and Odessa - (c) Ken Conley Christian Vande Velde - (c) Ken Conley Champagne Fight - (c) Ken Conley Dominique Rollin - (c) Ken Conley Tom Zirbel - (c) Ken Conley Champagne Fight - (c) Ken Conley Alexandre Moos - (c) Ken Conley

Levi was relentless when it came to the champagne fight -- I've never seen such a bleary-eyed podium. Dominique Rollin also tried to score points with the Rock Racing girls by handing them flowers, David MIllar showed patience in opening his champagne even as Levi sprayed him, Christian Vande Velde was smart enough to hand-off his baby before the champagne fight began, and Zabriskie was even smarter to use the giant check as a shield and then run off the stage with it.

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

George Hincapie - (c) Ken Conley George Hincapie - (c) Ken Conley

Stage 7 Photo Gallery

Team High Road got redemption today as George Hincapie delivered from the breakaway. After misjudging Dominique Rollin in Stage 4 and losing victory in Stage 6, High Road can at last celebrate. You had the feeling that there were many in the peloton content to see if Hincapie or any of the other riders in the break could pull one out for their teams. Tom Zirbel had the boldest move, surviving several laps off the front, Michael Creed made a go for Rock Racing, Rory Sutherland put his Most Aggressive jersey to use, and Jason McCartney tried to bookend the ToC for CSC, but Hincapie had the best legs.

It's only fitting that the 2008 Tour of California end with soggy conditions, though more severe snow and flash flood conditions were avoided. As if tuned to race time, the sun and a rainbow emerged for Levi Leipheimer to gaze upon as he accepted his second straight overall victory. Leipheimer used the platform to continue to argue for Tour de France entry, as well as spray David Millar and Christian Vande Velde with champagne.

Slipstream-Chipotle has made impressive gains in just a year. With second and third place overall, best team, and Steven Cozza animating the breaks, it looks like they will be a team to watch on the international stage.

Millcreek Summit Descent - (c) Ken Conley

Millcreek Summit Descent - (c) Ken Conley Cavendish Takes the Bunch Sprint - (c) Ken Conley

Stage 7 Photo Gallery

Peloton Goes Through Santa Paula

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Santa Paula - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Last year Santa Paula had firetrucks. Now they have a flag. Can't wait 'til next year.

Luciano Pagliarini Takes Victory From Second - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Sprint Finish - (c) Ken Conley Luciano Pagliarini - (c) Ken Conley

Above: Mark Cavendish Gets His Victory Salute on Course, Pagliarini Gets His After the Race

Stage 6 Photo Gallery

Luciano Pagliarini - (c) Ken ConleyOnce again Luciano Pagliarini once again raised the Brazilian flag on American soil, but first their was much confusion. At first the stage seemed to be the miraculous comeback of Mark Cavendish to take the stage: a crash on the second lap, a hectic chase to get back in the peloton, and victory in the final sprint -- only the miracle turned out to be the assistance of a team car that he hung on to. High Road says that Cavendish's rear derailleur was broken and needed fixing, the judge said 20 seconds and no first for you. It's a disappointing result for the San Luis Obispo-based Team High Road, which is still looking for Tour of California success.


Mark Cavendish - (c) Ken Conley Mark Cavendish in the Peloton on the First Lap - (c) Ken Conley

Above: Mark Cavendish is in the peloton on the first lap, but soon finds himself banged up and chasing alone

Today is the type of finish that makes a photographer groan. You get the shot of the person first across the line. You get lots of photos of the celebration afterward. And then the person who walks onto the podium is not the person you shot.

Stage 6 Photo Gallery

More Stage 5 Photos

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Stage 5: Levi Wins in Solvang Again

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Levi Leipheimer - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

David Millar - (c) Ken Conley Christian Vandevelde - (c) Ken Conley

Dave Zabriskie - (c) Ken Conley Fabian Cancellara - (c) Ken Conley George Hincapie - (c) Ken Conley Podium - (c) Ken Conley

Stage 5 Solvang Photo Gallery

Today started off ominously -- the skies poured rain off and on before the stage start and the navigation dial on my camera, which has the important duty of selecting my autofocus point, was only recognizing two out of its nine directions. Riders were stilled dazed from yesterday's efforts: Danny Pate talked about only being able to put down 1000 calories yesterday on a day he burned 5000. There seemed to be a lot less riders taking warmup rides than last year. And then it got better, much better. The roads dried off. Blue skies rolled in. My camera started working again.

Levi Leipheimer and Astana were the big winners on the day as Levi once again defended his overall lead in Solvang. Slipstream had a banner day as well -- they weren't able to beat Levi, but they took second, third, and sixth places. CSC took fourth and fifth, but Cancellara wasn't pull off his best effort after a rough week in the rain.

Stage 5 Solvang Photo Gallery

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

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

More Stage 2 Photos

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Stage 2: Tommeke Tommeke Tommeke

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Tom Boonen - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Tom Boonen - (c) Ken Conley

Stage 2 Photo Gallery

The Tour of California got a bit of the old and new today and a world champion in between: Tom Boonen took his first victory in the Tour of California, Tyler Farrar put on Slipstream's first overall leader's jersey, and Mario Cipollini showed that he has more kick than fellow riders gave him credit. CSC's dominance of this year's Tour of California ended as Haedo flatted in the final circuits. He was able to chase back but was outkicked by Cipo for third. Dominguez was less lucky and finished off the back of the peloton with a teammate.

All were wet and worn after a long day pedaling in chilly rain and winds. BMC rider Scott Nydam had the longest day as he went on a solo effort up the early Trinity Grade climb and latest through all the intermediate prizes on the day. Nydam picked up BMC's second most aggressive rider award and Jackson Stewart defended his KOM lead.

I spent the early part of the day on Trinity Grade. Levi Leipheimer's dad helped me climb a tree and Levi's wife Odessa brought along their dog Smokey to help cheer Levi along.

Stage 2 Photo Gallery

The Look, Jr.

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The Look Jr - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Stage 1: More Photos

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Rock Racing - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Sausalito - (c) Ken Conley

Bjarne Riis - (c) Ken Conley Paolo Bettini - (c) Ken Conley Michael Ball - (c) Ken Conley Peloton - (c) Ken Conley Levi Leipheimer - (c) Ken Conley Fabian Cancellara - (c) Ken Conley JJ Haedo - (c) Ken Conley Henrich Haussler - (c) Ken Conley Gerald Ciolek - (c) Ken Conley Jackson Stewart - (c) Ken Conley

Stage 1: JJ Haedo wins easily

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JJ Haedo - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Stage 1 Photo Gallery

Fabian Cancellara had his arms raised up in the air long before his teammate JJ Haedo crossed the finish line to take his fifth Tour of California stage win. The peloton found itself split in two as it entered Santa Rosa with big sprinters Ivan Dominguez and Luciano Pagliarini already eliminated from the sprint competition. Hincapie hit the deck in the final kilometer and came across a bit battered.

A long day for Jackson Stewart off the front earned him the KOM jersey and Most Aggressive award on the day.

JJ Haedo - (c) Ken Conley

George Hincapie - (c) Ken Conley JJ Haedo - (c) Ken Conley

Stage 1 Photo Gallery

Pre-Prologue Photos

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Chris Horner - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Prologue Pre-Race Photo Gallery

Look who's come to town:

Floyd Landis - (c) Ken Conley

Oscar Sevilla - (c) Ken Conley Tyler Hamilton - (c) Ken Conley Mario Cipollini - (c) Ken Conley

And some warmups:

CheChu Rubiera - (c) Ken Conley Bjarne Riis - (c) Ken Conley Fabian Cancellara - (c) Ken Conley Janez Brajkovic - (c) Ken Conley Paolo Bettini - (c) Ken Conley Bradley Wiggins - (c) Ken Conley George Hincapie - (c) Ken Conley Luciano Pagliarini - (c) Ken Conley

It's not about the bike:

Slipstream - (c) Ken Conley Saunier Duval - (c) Ken Conley

Slipstream - (c) Ken Conley

Bradley Wiggins - (c) Ken Conley

Prologue Pre-Race Photo Gallery

Deez-stache

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Dave Zabriskie
Photo by Ken Conley

It's real folks... Steven Cozza has much to fear.

Prologue Photos

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Some notables from today for their performances or otherwise:

Bradley Wiggins Tyler Farrar Levi Leipheimer David Millar Edvald Hagen Gustav Larsson

Mario Cipollini Levi Leipheimer Tom Boonen Jens Voigt George Hincapie Danny Pate Tom Danielson Ivan Dominguez Freddie Rodriguez

Prologue Photo Gallery

Prologue: Fabian Cancellara Dominates

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Fabian Cancellara
Photo by Ken Conley

Palo Alto Prologue Photos

Cancellara showed he is a man of the prologue by dominating his way to victory and becoming the first non-US recipient of the Tour of California leader's jersey. On a day in which tenths of seconds mattered, Cancellara dominated the field by nearly six seconds on the short 2.1 mile course.

I'll have many photos to come, including Zabriskie's retro-ugly mustache as well as non-racing news makers Hamilton, Sevilla, and Landis.

Palo Alto Prologue Photos

ToC '08 Kickoff Press Conference

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Press Conference
Photo by Ken Conley

Press Conference Photo Gallery

Freddie RodriguezRock Racing got the big news today as Michael Ball called a press conference just before the official kickoff press conference: Cipo is in but Ball claims that either his whole team will start or none at all. Race organizers readily admit to bending the rules a bit to allow Cipo to be a last minute addition, but Rock Racing will be only allow five riders at the start, and none of the Puerto Three. It puts AEG in a tough position as they took half a million of Ball's money, but it's the UCI that actually has control over who starts. Michael Ball will most likely pull some sort of stunt tomorrow by having his banned riders (Botero, Sevilla, Hamilton) attempt to start and he'll have to figure out if he really meant what he said.
David Millar Let Levi Ride Jens Voigt

As for the actual press conference, it was full of your general pablum by sponsors and organizers. My photo reel is full of riders pulling at their faces in boredom, but it was nice to see a very packed press conference. Analogies were made between Rock's situation and Astana's, and Levi was careful in his wording not to rule out switching to another team for the Tour de France while pimping LetLeviRide.com. Jens Voigt was there sporting some road rash from a recent crash and rumor has it that Zabriskie is sporting an handlebar mustache, ala Cozza.

Steephill.tv took video -- I'll link to it as soon as I spot it on his ToC page.

Press Conference Photo Gallery

New photos site: kwc.org/cycling/photos

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Those wishing to view my Tour of California photos take note: I will be posting my photos to http://kwc.org/cycling/photos instead of Flickr this time around. You might see a teaser or two on Flickr, but not much more. I've outlined my reasons as best I could: in brief, I feel that I need to move my professional photos off of Flickr to keep my professional and personal life separate, improve traffic, better link my photos and Spare Cycles, and give me something new to tinker with. I can probably rattle off even more reasons, though I still love Flickr and I apologize to Flickr users that will be inconvenienced.

I've been busier than I had anticipated so kwc.org/cycling/photos is not quite what I had hoped it would be at this point, but it's a start. Suggestions are of course welcome.

RBA6

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Every issue of RBA that comes out is happy little surprise for me. Some more of my Levi shots get to see print, including the bottom right one, which is one of my favorites.

Prints + promo sheet

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Update: I've setup an Imagekind gallery to place orders. You can order both framed and unframed. As I mentioned below, I'm willing to make _any_ photo I've taken available for prints, so feel free to contact me if you don't see the photo you want. I print a proof of every image at 8"x10" to verify quality before I upload to Imagekind. Also, the offer to sell at cost still stands, though you have to e-mail me first.

My friend Al has hooked me up with some studio space to hang some photos. It will be a mixture of the some of the pro events (Tour of California/Missouri/etc) that I've done plus photos of local athletes from NCNCA events. I've avoided doing prints until now, but since I'm biting the bullet I'll extend the offer to you all: if you would like a print of any of my photos, cycling or otherwise, send me an e-mail and we'll work something out:

I'll do the first couple at cost -- we're talking professionally framed, conservation-quality prints. If there's ample interest, I may try to make some money to fund more cycling expeditions. I'm shamefully posting my promo sheet here as a reminder of some of my work from this year:

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Pescadero Road Race 2007

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Pescadero Road Race 2007 (94)

Stage Road

Gallery

Pescadero Road Race is a fun race to shoot as (1) it's not an office park crit (2) there be lots of scenic country and (3) there are multiple laps. My assignment for myself this time around was to break in my new equipment: my 580EXII flash, and 16-35mm II haven't justified themselves yet, and my Photoshop CS3 prize was still waiting to be unwrapped.

Former USPS rider Dylan Casey rode the M35+ race and won the final sprint, except he got relegated for crossing the yellow line into oncoming traffic. Crossing the yellow line in front of the judges table wasn't a problem in the Pro 1/2 Men's race: second place Chris Lieto flatted and MTB Pro Barry Wicks was able to coast across the finish line with arms raised in victory.

Sarah Bamberger of Cheerwine took the victory in the Elite 1/2 Women's race.

Pescadero Road Race 2007 (427) Pescadero Road Race 2007 (487)

Official Race Results

Pescadero Road Race Photo Gallery

Maker Faire - Bikes

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Maker Faire features dozens of bike-related exhibits and demonstrations (see last year's entry, "Crazy fun bikes at Maker Faire". I only managed to make it to a small sampling of them today, but I hope to hit up some more tomorrow (e.g. Wooden Bikes).

Nemo Gould/Nemomatic.com bike and bike-related sculptures:

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Urban Mover electric bikes:

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I took the UM24 folding model out for a test ride. I've been denied boarding onto Caltrain more than once due to lack of bike space on the baby bullets, so a 49lb folding electric bike is quite appealing (the battery pack even quickly detaches if you want to distribute the weight more evenly). It was very different from the electric bike I currently own. My model requires you to manually control the throttle to get the power assist. The UM24 also has a throttle, but it also has a speed sensor that takes the bike up to full speed the second you start pedaling. It takes a second or two to get used to this immediate acceleration, but soon you're crusing around the fairgrounds having the time of your life. You can also get a torque sensor instead, which will make the power assist kick in more on the hills but less in the flats.

The model at Maker Faire used NiMH batteries, but the 2007 models are switching to LiON. The 2006 models are forward compatible with this update, but you do need to buy a new battery pack and motor -- probably not worth it until your NiMH battery pack runs out of juice.

Miscellaneous bikes (LED bike and bike merry-go-round):

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Three photos

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I just got my copy of the next issue of and I'm happy to say that I have three photos in the issue: cover, table of contents (T-Mobile bikes), and a small photo (Levi Crash) in the Bob Roll Tour of California summary. The memory is fuzzy, but I probably did a little jig when I opened the envelope with the magazine.

FYI: I'm also credited with a photo I didn't take, but that's another story.

Oh yeah, make sure you buy a copy ;)

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Cat's Hill photos

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I had to cancel my South Bay Invitational MTB plans but I got plenty of photos at Cat's Hill. It's a fun little course that throws rider repeatedly up a steep climb, so there's plenty of dropped chains and riders running uphill on foot. It also turned out to be an ideal place to practice my zoom panning technique.

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Many of us (photographers) got fooled by the Mike Sayers effect. After watching Sayers crank it up Cat's Hill again and again, we all immediately thought the victory was his as he jumped for the sprint. So it is that at least three of us had our cameras trained on him as Safeway rider Dan Martin came up the inside through the shade of the tree in his stealth-black uniform for victory (sorry).

Cat's Hill Photo Gallery

Sea Otter XC

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Georgia Gould wins Sea Otter XC Kabush leads Peraud

It's a bit late to join the rest of the photos, but I uploaded photos from the Sea Otter Pro XC event. Georgia Gould won the women's race by staying off the front for most the race and Geoff Kabush won the men's race in a sprint. I went to the offroad section to catch the men as they came in on their final lap then walked down to the Laguna Seca racecourse finish to catch Georgia Gould as she crossed the finish line. I had it in my mind that I was somehow going to get this great framing of Gould and the American flag as she crossed the finish line, but the results were a little mixed.

Sea Otter Pro XC Photo Gallery

24 Solo Premiere

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24 Solo Premiere Photo Gallery

Director Jason Berry's film 24 Solo (web site) shows that no matter how extreme your sport is, there's someone out there taking it to the next level. 24 Solo focuses on the MTB discipline that makes others cringe: the 24 hour solo race. Chris Eatough had dominated his sport through six consecutive World Titles, so naturally the film picks up as Eatough attempts to acheive the Armstrongian mark of seven.

The Eatoughs red carpet entranceI don't know much about the world of mountain biking -- most of what I learned is from Berry's previous film, Off Road to Athens. But I couldn't pass up an opportunity to see cyclists in pain, so Al, Jill, and I all went to the premiere in Monterey during Sea Otter. We were treated to red-carpet entrances by the film's stars and makers. There were also plenty of other professional MTBers in attendance, including Alison Dunlap and Sam Shultz. Shultz and his family were seated behind us, so Al took advantage and plied Shultz for advice on how to race the sandy downhill section of the Sea Otter XC course -- don't use the front brakes, lift up the front end lightly, and use the rear brake as a rudder if you need to.

Eatough signing posters The film's other star Film makers

The first part of the film follows Eatough and his team manager Jon Posner through their training and early season races, including in far-off China. It also splices in interviews with fellow 24-hour competitors, Gary Fisher, Alison Dunlap, and others, all to establish the two important facts about the film: 24-hour racing is insane and Chris Eatough is really good. The DVD packaging features the quote, "This sport is so hard, you can't do it for a paycheck" (John Stamstad). This part of the film is fun, entertaining, and light, but the film really is about the race.

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Copiously shot with an array of cameras, including a poor soul who had to follow with helmet cam, the film delivers with its coverage of the 24 Hours of Adrenalin 2005 World Solo Championships. After establishing that there really wasn't any equal to Eatough, the film was blessed with the sudden entrance of Craig Gordon from Australia. The new antagonist injected a new level of intensity and tension in the film that makes the race worth watching start to finish.

Seeing as most of what I know about mountain biking is from Berry's Off Road to Athens and 24 Solo, I am only left with those two films to compare. I prefer Off Road to Athens as there is more story to tell: 8 cyclists competing for the US Olympic Team across an entire season. 24 Solo was about one rider and one race. Both tell a great story and I'm happy that my goodie bag contained DVD copies of both for repeat enjoyment.

For those of you who have seen the film, you can read the cyclingnews summary of the race (PS: I hear the promoters are trying to get Craig Gordon back for a rematch).

24 Solo Premiere Photo Gallery

Sea Otter: Pro Circuit Race Men

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IMG_5400 Daniel Ramsey, race winner

Gallery

IMG_5136This year's Sea Otter circuit race was a bit pared down due to the Tour de Georgia and the riders were greeted with a rain-delayed start and messy course. Successful Living's Daniel Ramsey and Cal Giant's Andy Jacques-Maynes decided to make the most of it by going on the attack. For awhile it was a comfortable break as the field gave little chase -- some fans implored the peloton to give chase.

As the rain on the course evaporated into steam, the race began to pick up. Ramsey and Jacques-Maynes were caught and Jacques-Maynes was quickly shelled. From my vantage point, it seemed that Jelly Belly's Alex Candalario was putting in big efforts as I seem to have photo after photo of him on the front.

Alex Candelario Alex Candelario

Team Successful Living had the better tactical position as they had plenty of riders up front -- as many as four at times. Of all his teammates, somehow Ramsey had the legs to attack the group and from there he built up a huge lead. He rolled into the final straightaway with over two minutes on his chasers and gave Successful Living a well deserved win and KOM.

Short track winner Katie ComptonSpike's Katie Compton delivered a surprise win at the Pro Short Track Women's race. Compton, who usually races cyclo-cross and hasn't raced short track since 2001, took an early lead on the first lap and built on it throughout the race. The Luna riders Katerina Nash and Georgia Gould chased as best they could, but Compton used her cross experience to hold them off on the muddy course.

Pro Short Track Women Photo Gallery

IMG_4598 Wendy Simms Susan Haywood IMG_4580 IMG_4616 Katie Compton

Nino Shurter IMG_4999 Jean Christophe Peraud IMG_4775 IMG_4828 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski

Ryan Trebon built an early half-minute lead on a group of chasers but wasn't able to hold off a late charge by Jean Christophe Peraud. The track was in better condition than last year's mud pit, but the weather came out in full force. The pictures tell the rest of the story.

Pro Short Track Men Photo Gallery

Messy here at Sea Otter

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The poor riders in the Pro Women's Circuit Road Race got dumped on as the skies have opened up here at Laguna Seca. Things quickly turned from sprinkles to downpour and high winds -- the fabled Corkscrew at Laguna Seca is currently covered in chunky rivers of mud. After toughing it out for several laps, USA Cycling decided to cancel things mid-race and awarding no winner. It was the right decision given the hazardous conditions, but Webcor is probably steaming after rider Christine Thorburn had put in so much work up front splitting up the pack.

Pro Women Circuit Race Photo Gallery

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I'm leave for Hawaii on Sunday for a week so coverage will be especially spare. I've been meaning to write something about the Beat the Clock TT, where I shot some photos for SportVelo's 'Contre la Montre' TT camp, but things have been a bit too hectic.

The photos are not my best. For starters, most aren't processed, but I was also trying to see how well the middle AF sensor on my 30D performs. I almost never use the middle sensor as it leads to bad framings, but I wanted to test its double accuracy. Perhaps it performed better, but all the photos of cyclists sans feet are enough to make me go back to my preferred AF sensors.

Earlier in the day I also tried to take some shots of the riders with the sunrise in their face. Some kits took this well, the whiter ones did not.

Tom Danielson Junior Cycling Cup poster

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Promoting the Tom Danielson Junior Cycling Cup for my own selfish reasons ;)

Menlo Park GP

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menloparkGP2007b.gif The Tri-Flow Menlo Park Grand Prix was a bigger event this year with more sponsors, etc... I went to go watch Dan race the 45+ and 35+ events as its much more interesting to take photographs when there are particular riders that you are targeting -- it's easy enough to point your camera at a peloton and get a photo of some rider in focus; it's much harder and more important to pick out a particular rider. Of course, Dan made it easy by driving a breakaway for almost the entire race.

Menlo Park GP Photo Gallery

I also used the criterium as a chance to practice shooting sprint finishes as well as 'trick shots'. Pans are easy enough, but I really wanted to start getting the hang of the zoom pan as I'm planning on trying it out on the corkscrew at Sea Otter. I've included my results below.

Zoom pan, aka Dolly Zoom, aka "Hitchcock zoom": I don't know what the right name for this is, but I've been enamored of the technique ever since watching Hitchcock's Spellbound. With a Dolly Zoom, you move the camera backwards as you zoom in to keep your subject the same size while weird things happen with the background DOF. With cycling photography there is no dolly but the rider is coming towards you. All you have to do is zoom out while keeping the oncoming cyclist the same size. If you pull it off, you're subject will look fairly normal but you'll get interesting streaks around. If you go to fast, you'll get weird sorts of distortion, which I guess can be fun once or twice.

I shot these at 1/30th - 1/50th of a second on my 70-200:

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Pans: this is a simple technique, not hard to execute. It's the bread-and-butter of cycling photography techniques. I'm snobby enough that I don't like taking these sorts of shots. I took a couple for fun, but most of my time was spent on the zoom pans. I shoot pans at around 1/160-1/200, which keeps it fairly easy.

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See also: Menlo Park GP 2006

Menlo Park GP Photo Gallery

Photo spotting II

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Last year a couple of my photos made it onto some rider sites -- Bobby Julich's and Tom Danielson's. This year saw a repeat of that, though I'm enough of a fanboy to find it really cool to see that one of my photos is on Tom Danielson's front page (the webmaster gave it some fun motion streaks).

This year's Flickr crop also made it to Bobby Julich's Stage 5 and Prologue summaries and one of my stage 1 crash photos got some uncredited use on Bernhard Kohl's site.

Italian Frown

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Basso and Bettini

above: Ivan Basso and Paolo Bettini, frowning

Tour of California Stage 6: Haedo x 4

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JJ Haedo beats out Paolo Bettini and Greg Henderson

above: JJ Haedo beat Paolo Bettini and Greg Henderson to the line. [Ed: As you can see, I haven't quite mastered the art of the aesthetic finish line shot, but I can't complain: I got to chose my spot for shooting it.]

Photo Gallery

JJ Haedo was the first rider to get three Tour of California stage wins. Now he is the first rider to achieve four. He easily beat out Paolo Bettini and Greg Henderson for the win. It was a sprint full of flub-ups: Gerolsteiner's Robert Förster got into a lot of push and shove with Freddie Rodriguez and ended up pulling his left foot out of the pedal. T-Mobile's Greg Henderson was supposed to be leading out Ciolek, but Ciolek lost his wheel.

Although the finish was your typical sprint, the true battle on the day was Discovery vs. CSC. CSC put it to Discovery hard, though the first casualty was inflicted by one of their own. CSC attacked three miles into the course and Discovery's Tony Cruz went to cover it. Cruz's wheel hit Basso's, taking Cruz and George Hincapie down. Hincapie and Cruz weren't able to rejoin until the approach to the final climb of Balcom Canyon.

With Discovery down two riders (in addition to Davis, who they lost as a result of Stage 3), CSC continued with the assault. Leipheimer was able to personally cover attacks by Jens Voigt, but Stuart O'Grady was able to make it into the breakaway and present a threat to Leipheimer's overall lead.

O'Grady's breakaway also contained overall threat Michael Rogers. Despite the long, wide, and relatively flat road to the finish, that breakaway was able to stay away until the finishing circuit in Santa Clarita. It took the full efforts of Discovery's Basso, Vandborg, and Danielson to finally reel it in, along with some help from HealthNet. Vandborg and Basso both were shot off the back of the peloton after their final efforts.

But the most ridiculous effort award should go to Hincapie: he chased back to the peloton for two hours, with a broken arm. Hincapie rode the entire stage, with its four KOMs, minus a small three mile start segment, injured.

Although Levi built his lead on the strength of his solo performances in the prologue and time trial, it was the efforts of the Discovery team that protected Levi's small lead throughout. Levi clearly owes his teammates, and most significantly, he owes Basso.

It's been an amazing sight throughout the Tour to see the likes of Ivan Basso drilling it at the front of the peloton to bring back a breakaway. How would you like your lead protected by a Tour de France favorite? Prior to the Tour of California, Levi was giving controversial quotes about being disappointed by Basso's signing. Now he's giving quotes like, ""When someone sacrifices as much as he has for me, that goes a long ways to solidifying a friendship, a bond." A Tour of California win isn't a fair trade for a Tour of California win, but Basso has earned some favor and friendship.

IMG_1831 Levi, post-race

above left: Brian Vandborg drive the peloton to bring back the breakaway on the final circuits of Santa Clarita. above right: Levi wipes off the sweat after a hard day on the bike. below: Ivan Basso is back among the team cars after giving everything he had to bring back the breakaway

Basso, exhausted

below: John from Mavic offers some neutral support to a young rider

Mavic Neutral Support

kwc Stage 6 Photo Gallery

Tour of California Stage 5: Solvang TT

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Jen Voigt vs. Levi Leipheimer warming up

*left: Jens Voigt on the finishing straight of the Coit Tower Prologue. right: Levi Leipheimer warms up. *

Photo Gallery

Even with 91 riders within 1 minute of Levi's overall time, this was a race between two riders: Levi and Jens (CSC vs. Discovery, as it often is). Jens was the stronger sprinter on stage 3 and beat Levi across the line to move within three seconds of Levi's overall lead. Jens is also an amazing time trialist -- it was going to be close.

Jens and Levi started last, but that doesn't mean that the "pre-battle" wasn't entertaining as well. Priority Health put in an amazing showing early on. Tom Zirbel set the best time on the day. Priority Health had another good showing with Ben Jacques-Mayes, who was able to finish 4th overall and best Zirbel's time. It wasn't until World TT champion Fabian Cancellara came rolling through at 30:17 that the battle started to tilt towards the ProTour riders.

The Discovery Armada put huge dents in the standings with Basso, Hincapie, and Danielson, but none were able to best Cancellara's time. The big (but pleasant) surprise came from Discovery's Jason McCartney, who was the first to be Cancellara's time. McCartney has been Leipheimer's lieutenant for this Tour of California and always seems to show up well in the North American series.

Horner, Julich, and Rogers came in with respectable times, but their split times made it clear that the real battle was Jens vs. Levi.

At the first time split they broadcast, Jens was three seconds up on Levi. It was a virtual tie on the road. The second time split we heard: Levi was 4 seconds faster than Jens at the halfway point.

Jens Voigt crossed the line at 29:58, the fastest time on the day and the first sub-30-minute time. It was an amazing time that best world TT champ Fabian Cancellara as well as Jason McCartney's amazing effort. It seemed that Jens may have pulled it off.

Jens Voigt

above: Jens Voigt crosses the finish line, the first rider to break the 30-minute barrier

That is, until they announced Levi only had 1k to go. The clock was just ticking up to 29 minutes -- that gave Levi more than enough time to do the final kilometer. Levi didn't know though because Johan Bruyneel was yelling in his ear that he needed to give it full gas because it was going to be close. Levi charged to the finish a full 18 seconds faster than Jens Voigt, sealing the stage victory and most likely putting keeping him in the overall jersey for good.

below: Levi sprints and crosses the finish line to take the stage

Levi Leipheimer Levi Leipheimer Levi

Keeping the overall lead from start to finish is an amazing achievement for Leipheimer. Last year his attempt was undone by a poor showing in the stage 3 time trial. Whether or not it is his new time trial position, new team, or better conditioning, who knows, but Leipheimer has undoubtedly been the strongest rider to show up to this Tour of California.

CSC could attempt something amazing tomorrow, but the KOMs are so far from the finish it would have to be epic. Discovery has been hit hard this Tour: Sierra Road cost Discovery Davis and the green jersey. Discovery was lucky that this year's Pacific Coast Highway stage was relatively tame.

Fabian Cancellara had set the best time on the day until Jason McCartney amazingly beat it

Jason McCartney IMG_1225

IMG_0955 IMG_0909 IMG_0996 Leipheimer and McCartney IMG_1137 Fabian Cancellara starting Tom Danielson starting IMG_1539

IMG_1603 George and Lance IMG_1556

kwc Stage 5 Photo Gallery

VeloNews Stage 5 Summary

Tour of California Stage 3: Jens!

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Robert Gesink Jens Voigt Levi Leipheimer

above: Levi Leipheimer, Jason McCartney, Jens Voigt, Robert Gesink, and Chris Horner go over the KOM line at the top of Sierra Road

Photo Gallery

Stage winner Jens VoigtJens Voigt beat Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner for the stage win after they managed to get over the top of Sierra Road first and hold off a chasing group with Paolo Bettini. Jens was the strongest sprinter and Levi was just trying to stay on Jens' wheel to remain in the overall lead. Levi owes a great debt to Jason McCartney, who was able to help bring Levi to the top of Sierra Road. McCartney had been a breakaway ahead of Levi but was able to stick with his leader when Levi caught up.

Levi called today's stage a "bike race" and it truly was. It first took shape with a large breakaway of 17 riders that included Jens Voigt and Jason McCartney. They got a huge gap over the peloton, but Discovery absolutely drilled it at the front to start bringing it back (with some help from Rabobank and Slipstream). Hincapie, Cruz, and Davis all put in their turns and by the time Sierra Road came, it was Basso's turn to lead the charge. Meanwhile, in the breakaway, Jason McCartney and Jens Voigt put the hammer down at the base of Sierra Road and were able to whittle the breakaway from 17 down to 4.

(Brief aside 1) I asked a rider at the top how Sierra Road compares to Alpe d'Huez: steeper, but shorter.

Then, the amazing bit, occurring all along Sierra Road's 15% grades: Basso was able to reel the breakaway within striking distance and Levi started to jump across the gap. Chris Horner and Rabobank's Gesink glued themselves to Levi's wheel, but it was all Levi. Up ahead Jason McCartney put in an attack and was able to drop everyone except Jens Voigt, and still, Levi continued to bridge up.

(Brief aside 2) Last year, it was Bernhard Kohl and Leipheimer leading the charge over the top. Discovery Channel chased with Barry, McCartney, and Hincapie -- Horner and Julich were tucked in as well. Barry and McCartney were able to pull it all together and Hincapie took the final sprint (photo, more)

With Levi closing in, Jason McCartney switched into domestique mode and began to pull himself further inside out to lead the front group to the top of the climb. As they reached the top it was Levi over first, followed by McCartney, Voigt, Gesink, and Horner all in a tight bunch riding as if there were no hill.

Further back, Paolo Bettini was showing that I shouldn't have been calling out his poor showings in the first three stages. Bettini led the effort to chase down Leipheimer's group and crossed the KOM point twenty seconds back (along with Bobby Julich and Mick Rogers).

Bobby Julich Basso and Cancellara

Levi drove the descent initially, but then McCartney and Horner started to help push the gap over the chase group of Bettini/Rogers/Julich. Jens Voigt, tired from driving the breakaway earlier in the day as McCartney sat on, smartly sat on during the descent.

(Brief aside 3): The course to the finish line is a long, wide, and straight shot into downtown San Jose. Conventional wisdom from last year was that it is too difficult for a breakaway to hold off chasers from Sierra Road all the way to the finish

Jens Voigt attacked and sloughed off Gesink and McCartney. Quick Step and T-Mobile continued to lead the chase. By the time the lead group approached the final turn to the finish line, the large chase group had them in sight.

It didn't matter: Jens Voigt came through the final turn first and simply road Leipheimer and Horner off his wheel. Levi wanted Chris Horner to get the stage win after Horner helped them stay away, but it's hard not to like a win by Jens Voigt. Everyone loves Jens Voigt, fan and cyclist alike -- there's just something about a masochistically aggressive rider that you appreciate.

The win moved Voigt to within three seconds of the lead, which means that Leipheimer will have his work out for him in the Solvang time trial. Levi will also have CSC's Bobby Julich to worry about.

Levi Leipheimer

Other notes: * Slipstream's Tom Peterson didn't have to impersonate Taylor Tolleson on the podium today: this time the best young rider's jersey was his to keep * Lance Armstrong was with the race today. The only photos I got were of his back as he ran away from fans.

kwc Stage 3 Photo Gallery (top of Sierra, podium)

Links:

Tour of California Stage 1: The Levi Rule

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Levi Crash
Photo by Ken Conley

above: Levi Leipheimer is on the ground and sandwiched between riders that continue to crash around him.

Photo Gallery

The Levi Rule: When a poster boy for the race is riding into his hometown with the overall lead, you don't take away his jersey for a junk crash. Especially when he has to suffer through the front page of VeloNews featuring a photo of his butt poking out from his ripped shorts.

The Levi Rule is a variation on the 3km rule which says that everyone gets the same time if a crash occurs within the final 3km of a sprint finish. In this case, it is a fair variation because the three laps the teams were doing in Santa Rosa made that part of the course into a really drawn out sprint finish setup, which is dangerous for the riders.

It was an ugly crash. I was looking at the other end of the peloton when there was a loud balloon popping noise. I turned to see bike after bike piling up across the full breadth of the street. T-Mobile's Ciolek hit a traffic dot and lost control. Chris Horner and a Matteo Tosatto were among the first to be taken down and Levi wasn't far behind. About 80 riders in total were held up by the pileup. I'm still pouring through the photos and noticing new details -- I didn't even know at the time that Levi had gone down.

Basso Crash Basso checking for damage after the crash

Utter chaos followed. The local announcers didn't seem to catch onto the fact that Levi was behind the lead pack. Basso and Hincapie tried to help Levi chase back, but I had caught a glimpse of Basso wincing as he got up from the crash. Elsewhere, there was a group of four with Jason McCartney and Michael Rasmussen chasing, Ivan Dominguez was completely caught out by himself, and so too was Chris Horner, who had cuts on his elbow and knee.

Peloton Chris Horner

T-Mobile had led the peloton around the circuit and was lucky to have most of their numbers unscathed (even if one of their riders caused the crash). The win seemed theirs for the taking with Greg Henderson, but Rabobank's Graeme Brown jumped first and the finish was close. It wasn't until after much sorting out they finally announced the results of the stage: Brown took it on the line and the commissaires used the Levi Rule to award the peloton the same time.

The Throw

above: the sprint photo finish. below: Levi crosses the finish line long after the main pack, but is awarded the same time

Levi finishes

The final bit of chaos: Slipstream's Taylor Tolleson ran off before the awards ceremony, so after much delay, they decided to have his teammate Tom Peterson accept the young rider jersey on his behalf. Even with the award ceremony snafus -- Jason Donald tried to put on his jersey the wrong way at the prologue presentation -- it continues to be an amazing Tour of California for the Slipstream/Chipotle team. In addition to accepting Tolleson's jersey, Peterson got to come up right after to accept the KOM jersey that he got from participating in the breakaway.

Other notes:

  • The big crash in Santa Rosa may not have affected the overall standings, but a crash earlier in the stage took out Dave Zabriskie (Getty photo). I was hoping to see him on the podium again this year, but I guess it's solely up to Julich now.
  • Discovery Channel's Allan Davis got to come up on stage three times to accept an award: a check for winning a sprint point, again to don the green sprinter's jersey, and a third time for finishing third.
  • the crowds in Santa Rosa were amazing. People were lining the roads and filling the upper decks of the parking garage to watch.
    Huge crowds in Santa Rosa
  • Following up on yesterday's post, Bettini wasn't involved in the crash but got dropped by front pack on the final lap

Paolo Bettini

kwc Stage 1 Photo Gallery

Links:

Levi Leipheimer - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Jason Donald - (c) Ken ConleyThose of us who were there last year should have expected the finale to today's opener, but it still surprised the hell out of us. Virtually unknown Jason Donald set the fastest time as the seventh rider out. No one thought that their times would hold, but big rider after big rider came in much slower: Hincapie, Zabriskie, Julich, Danielson. I was sure that Danielson would post a better time after the six-or-so practice runs he did up to the top, but he came in about 10 seconds slower. Of the big names, Cancellara was the closest at 5 seconds back, but that still left the top three as Jason Donald, Ben Jacques-Maynes, and Rory Sutherland. We literally watched over a hundred riders attempt and fail to beat Donald's time. It seemed to us that the winds had probably changed direction to make it harder for the bigger riders that started later.

So with Levi the only rider left to finish, ota asked me whether or not Levi stood a chance -- I said, "no way, the course is too hard now."

Then everyone waited. We were listening for the sounds of the thundersticks and cowbells and general yelling that would herald Levi's arrival. We also watched the clock tick up past four minutes. If there wasn't cheering soon, there would be no chance.

Levi came screaming around the final bend. The crowd was never louder until it exploded as Levi froze the clock at 4:48.86 (officially 4:49:06) -- a second and a half better than Jason Donald.

Finishing Time

Levi's secret to success: Hincapie radioed back to tell him to change out of the big chainring sooner on the final climb -- Levi flew up the steep stretch in the easier gear. Levi's other secret (other than being Levi): no one wants to wear that jersey into Santa Rosa more than him.

Levi Leipheimer

It was still a big day for Slipstream/Chipotle even without the stage win. Jason Donald kept the team part of the coverage from nearly start to finish and also earned him a podium spot for the sprinter's jersey. Taylor Tollesen snagged them another podium spot by getting the best young rider jersey. Slipstream was also in our mind because ota and I spent the day standing next to Slipstream rider Steven Cozza's family. It's great to know that a team that is making waves with its anti-doping platform can hold the stage with race success as well.

Dave Zabriskie - (c) Ken Conley Stuart O'Grady - (c) Ken Conley Jen Voigt Danielson Bobby Julich Fabian Cancellara Michael Rogers Chris Horner Viktar Rapinkski Giovanni Visconti Michael Barry IMG_0138 IMG_0119 IMG_0110 Taylor Tolleson

kwc photosets:

Coverage elsewhere:

SportVelo Training Camp

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This past weekend I participated in the SportVelo training camp, though my actual riding time was only about 1-2 hours (in comparison to the 16-20 hours everyone else did). My actual role was camp photographer, which gave me some good practice for the Tour of California next week.

The camp provided a couple of firsts for me as a cycling photographer: shooting in rain and shooting from a car. For all its challenges, rain produces some wonderfully dramatic shots. It was much easier to shoot people riding through rain than it was to deal with splash from rear wheels flying in my face when I rode on Sunday.

Shooting from a car wasn't quite the shooting-fish-in-a-barrel experience I thought it would be. Unlike standing alongside the road, lighting conditions on the road can vary second-by-second. If you driving along any of the climbs around here (e.g. Highway 9), this means that you can start framing your subject under direct sun, but by the time you get the shot, you can be in the shade again. It also takes some practice to frame your subjects and keep them in focus as you're trying not to fall out the window of the car. I didn't quite get the results I wanted from this, but I learned a lot for next time.

More photos

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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.

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Pescadero Road Race

Six-month-old Burlingame Crit photos

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It only took me six months, but I've finally processed a set of Burlingame Criterium photos (30 photos). This was the first race that I shot with a Canon 30D, so it took some getting used to. The improved focusing of the 30D also allowed me to attempt some new shots, including some cornering close-ups.

I'm also testing out some new processing styles for my photos. I've gone high contrast + warming filter on most of these. I also tried a couple of soft-focus filters for grins, which are meant to hide the fact that many of the highlights are blown out I'll see what style I prefer come Tour of California time.

06-25 Burlingame Criterium-07

Crashes:

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Soft-focus tests (post-production):

06-25 Burlingame Criterium-06 Burlingame Crit - Soft Focus-1

Cornering close-ups:

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More Burlingame Criterium photos

Menlo Park Grand Prix 2006

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Al, Jill, and I went to the Menlo Park Grand Prix to get our pre-Tour-de-Georgia fix. It was fun watching a bunch of local cyclists -- some of whom I had recognized from the Alto Velo club meeting I attended -- racing for club and personal glory. I was tempted to hop on my bike and attempt to finish a Cat 5 race, except I didn't bring my bike because I'm terribly afraid of crashing.

I was surprised by the number of crashes for such a flat circuit (1km around an office park). There was at least one crash in all three of the races I watched and if you look closely in the photo above, you'll see a rider going down on the straightaway. One Cat 3 rider I talked to said she had her very first crash, which was caused by someone running into her in a turn. The worst I saw was at the end of the Men's Elite 2 race when an Alto Velo rider went down hard crossing the finish line. Another rider was sent flipping over him and managed to leave his cleat attached to his pedal. Both riders were fine, though the Alto Velo rider had some nice road rash.

We chatted with one of Al's former clients that raced in the Men's 5 35+. This was his ninth event and his wife told him that he could shave his legs when he made some money off of his racing. After all the crashes I saw, that seems like some really good motivation to start winning (or to quit).

Menlo Park Grand Prix Photos

People dig the Specialized Angel

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Specialized Angel-1I ended up near the Specialized Angel for two of the Tour of California stages. In all that time, I only took one photo of her when I saw an amusing moment at the top of Sierra Road. That photo: 1634 views. None of the other hundred or so photos I took at the Tour of California got half as many views. The next nearest photo in popularity? This one of Bobby J, Floyd, and DZ, which got 300 views by virtue of being posted on bobbyjulich.com. I told the Specialized Angel as much when I ended up near her again at the Sea Otter Classic: she's more popular than Bobby J, Floyd, and DZ combined.

She's rocketed to popularity in a very short period of time. I first saw her standing along the Coit Tower climb at the Tour of California Prologue. By the end of that short stage she had already been elevated to prime positioning at the finish line. By the end of the Tour of California she was standard montage material in the television coverage. Her popularity definitely carried over well into the Sea Otter Classic. Everyone passing by her on the course paid her homage. Riders would nod, fans would take photos with her "for the bikeshop back home," drivers in the motorcade would slow down and blow kisses.

I remember one rider that we were cheering up the climb because he had fallen way off the back. His gaze seemed locked towards the top of the climb, determined to make it, except that as he got closer, his head rotated, and rotated, and rotated, until he was looking backwards over his shoulder at the Angel on top of her van. He didn't make it back into the pack.

I took a lot more photos of her this time because who can turn down 1600 instant hits? It's ten times harder to get a crisp shot of Levi, but lazily point your camera at the Specialized Angel and suddenly everyone's viewing your photo album. Who knew a female model could be so popular? (Potential suitors: she's married)

Stairway to Heaven-1 Specialized Angel-3

Specialized Angel-Sea Otter Classic

Update: A new photo from the 2007 Tour of California. More photos in the Prologue and Stage 3 galleries.

Specialized Angel
Photo by Ken Conley

Barclays SF Grand Prix 2005

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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: