Archives: February 2008

February 29, 2008

Lineup - mjohnson_stage1_15.jpg

Photo by Mark Johnson/

If you're looking for great ToC and other cycling photos, you should check out the work of Mark Johnson. The photo above is his, which I post because it features yours truly on the far left. Mark's Tour of California gallery is up at the Competitor SoCal site and shows a lot more variety and experimentation than my own. You may also recognize his photos from CyclingNews.

February 26, 2008

Reviewing the Tour of California, by Press Room

An inside perspective, based on the food that each host city provided:

  • Stanford: Beer, which ran out by the time I got there
  • Santa Rosa: Gourmet sandwiches with goat cheese, grilled onions, and spinach greens. A matching salad and brownies as well.
  • Sacramento: Pizza Hut
  • San Jose: Gourmet juice cocktails and some snacks
  • San Luis Obispo: Local pizzeria
  • Solvang: Bottle of wine in every gift basket (choice of syrah, pinot noir, chardonnay, and others) as well as a fruit platter.
  • Santa Clarita: Sandwiches, mustard potato salad, pasta, cookies -- very catered
  • Rose Bowl: Lays potato chips and Gatorade energy bars. Limited supply of sandwiches.

Stage 7 Gallery Updated, Yet Again

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.

February 25, 2008

Some thoughts on the Cavendish deal

What follows is hearsay and personal opinion, but as I've seen some confusion as to what happened at the end of Stage 6 with Mark Cavendish losing the stage, I thought I'd try and clarify things as best as I understand:

  • Mark Cavendish crashed and took out pretty much the entire Rock Racing squad, including Cipollini and Rodriguez. The crash occurred during the finishing circuits. Photos
  • Both Cavendish and Cipollini used the assistance of a team car to get back into the pack. Cipollini's mechanic was smart enough to pretend to work on Cipo's seat post. One photographer I talked to witnessed Cavendish holding onto the team car with no mechanic leaning out, then getting waved off by the race referee. It's possible that the mechanic was working on something in the car.
  • Cavendish was penalized 20 seconds, which negated his victory.

Team High Road cited The Levi Rule in protest of Cavendish's 20 second penalty. I feel that the comparison is a bit apples and oranges, regardless of how you feel about the rules being bent in Levi's case. In particular:

  • Levi didn't cause the crash
  • There were no team cars for Levi to hang on to as they had been cleared from the circuit.
  • Levi didn't win the stage, though the overall jersey is more important.

In other words, I think Cavendish's victory was too flagrant to ignore and I think Levi would happily have accepted a 20 second penalty to latch back onto the peloton -- he would have still won the 2007 ToC, though only by one second. In fact, Levi did get a time penalty in the Tour de France getting a water bottle ride from the Disco team car after flatting before a climb. Disco also complained about that penalty, but strategically it was still the right decision.


Let's do it all again in Georgia (I hope)

Complaints Thread

If you have 'em, I'd like to hear them. More specifically, this was the first test of my new photo gallery system. If you let me know what you liked/hated, or why Flickr is so much better, please sound off so that I can make things better. Thanks!

More Stage 7 Photos: Champagne Fight and More

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.

February 24, 2008

Stage 7: Hincapie Gets High Road Revenge, Leipheimer Repeats Overall

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

February 23, 2008

Peloton Goes Through Santa Paula

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.

Warning: Stage 7 May be Modified

Due to the possibility of flash floods and snow on the Stage 7 course -- this is the Tour of California, after all -- the course may be modified tomorrow. Fans are advised to monitor the Tour of California Web site for updates.

Surprisingly, not all riders are dreading the possibility of snow on the summit of Milcreek Summit. Bobby Julich, a Reno native, savored the idea and encouraged organizers to take snow machines up there if the severe weather didn't materialized.

Stage 6: Cavendish Wins, Pagliarini Really Wins

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

February 22, 2008

Disco Lives (Almost)

Discovery Channel TT Bike - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

You can tell it's the start of the season -- Levi's backup bike is still his old Discovery Channel bike, albeit with a black piece of tape that somehow disguises its origin.

More Stage 5 Photos

Solvang - (c) Ken ConleyPhoto by Ken Conley

Solvang - (c) Ken Conley Tom Zirbel - (c) Ken Conley Gustav Larsson - (c) Ken Conley Janez Brajkovic - (c) Ken Conley Ben Jacques-Maynes - (c) Ken Conley Vladimir Gusev - (c) Ken Conley Bradley Wiggins - (c) Ken Conley Mario Cipollini - (c) Ken Conley David Millar - (c) Ken Conley Slipstream - (c) Ken Conley Solvang - (c) Ken Conley Solvang - (c) Ken Conley

Stage 5 Photo Gallery

Stage 5: Levi Wins in Solvang Again

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

February 21, 2008

Rollin gets revenge on Hincapie

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

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

Stage 4: Big Day for Dominique Rollin, Miserable Day for All

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

February 20, 2008

Photos: Mt Hamilton

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

Stage 3: Gesink Wins in San Jose, Levi in the Lead as Farrar Abandons

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

February 19, 2008

Listen to me blabber

I did an interview for The FredCast after Stage 1, which some of you may have already heard. I talk near the end, almost half an hour in. Thanks to David for inviting me to be on and get well wishes to both his thumb and his computer.

More Stage 2 Photos

Trinity Grade - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Sacramento - (c) Ken Conley

Specialized Angel - (c) Ken Conley Jackson Stewart - (c) Ken Conley Odessa Gunn - (c) Ken Conley Mario Cipollini - (c) Ken Conley Ivan Dominguez - (c) Ken Conley

Tour of California Stage 2 Photo Gallery

February 20, 2008

Breakaway from Cancer/Hincapie Podcast

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

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

February 19, 2008

Stage 2: Tommeke Tommeke Tommeke

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

February 18, 2008

The Look, Jr.

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

Stage 1: More Photos

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

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

February 17, 2008

Pre-Prologue Photos

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


Dave Zabriskie
Photo by Ken Conley

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

Prologue Photos

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

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

February 16, 2008

ToC '08 Kickoff Press Conference

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

Press Conference Photo Gallery

February 15, 2008

ToC Coverage

Tour of CaliforniaIt's now countdown T-minus 2 days to the Tour of California Prologue and I'm feeling the ToC vibe in full. I'll be following the Tour of California in my car from start to finish. Look for photos of the race to go up on shortly after each race finishes. Those of you with RSS readers can subscribe to I'll reiterate again: I won't be using Flickr, except perhaps for a teaser photo or two.

For events like the Tour of California I'm more focused on photography and usually a bit too exhausted to do race summaries, so I'll do my best to link to others doing race summaries, commentaries, etc... as I find it. Please feel free to send links my way and I'll aggregate them here. Speculatively:

  • will do a good job as always
  • Fritz of will be on the scene for the prologue, stage 2, and possible 3/4
  • Fritz and I may make an audio appearance on The FredCast -- they'll be working to get you the latest and greatest news.

Dinner with Quick Step (Bettini + Boonen)

Quick Step is hosting a dinner at Ribsibisi in Petaluma after Monday's stage as a fundraiser for the NorCal High School MTB Racing League. Limited tickets are available.

Tour of California 2008 Team Rosters

Tour of CaliforniaThe 2008 team rosters for the Tour of California have been released. It's amazing to see Leipheimer, Bettini, Boonen, Horner, Zabriskie, Freire, Cancellara, Wiggins, Julich, Hincapie, Voigt, and more all racing in California -- I'm going to be busy with the camera. I wish Baldwin was on the list as well, but you can't everything. The sprint finishes and time trials will certainly be exciting.

The big surprise was Rock Racing: despite being a founding sponsor, they submitted an abbreviated list of 5 riders. Puerto has raised its ugly head again and has taken out Hamilton, Botero, and Sevilla. Leogrande is still on the list inspite of USADA's attempt to have his samples retested. VeloNews speculates Cipo as a last-minute addition -- he'd certainly bring even more fan enthusiasm.

Read on to see the ToC 2008 rider list.

Continue reading "Tour of California 2008 Team Rosters" »

February 14, 2008

Levi and Friends

Horner and Leipheimer
Photo by Ken Conley

Chris Horner

Jelly Belly High Road Matteo Tosatto

Levi Leipheimer

Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner came to speak in Palo Alto at a fundraiser for the Tour of California. Riders for High Road, Jelly Belly, and High Road also showed up to sign autographs for fans. It was an interesting time, seeing at news of Astana's ban from ASO events is still being absorbed. The new bit of news on that front is that Levi indicated that Astana would be launching some sort of online petition to rally American fans. Other topics of conversation included Horner's virility, air resistance of ponytails, and the Tour of California.

Also, enjoy the photos.

Levi and Friends Photo Gallery

February 11, 2008

New photos site:

Those wishing to view my Tour of California photos take note: I will be posting my photos to 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 is not quite what I had hoped it would be at this point, but it's a start. Suggestions are of course welcome.

February 4, 2008

RIP Sheldon Brown

Sheldon Brown is someone who most of us never met but knew through his larger-than-life presence in the online cycling community. He's greatly missed but lives on in the knowledge that he's passed to us.