Archives: August 2008

August 31, 2008

Tyler Hamilton, US National Road Race Champ

US Pro.jpgTyler Hamilton took the sprint over Blake Caldwell in a photo finish. Caldwell was able to sit on Hamilton's wheel for most of the run-in to the finish, but Hamilton got Caldwell to lead it out and came around his wheel at the last second for the victory. It's Hamilton's first-ever national RR championship and it comes as a redemption on US soil, not too long after his overall victory at the Tour of Qinghai Lake.

Tyler Hamilton - (c) Ken Conley
ToC photo by Ken Conley
Garmin finished 2-3-4 and it was really their race to control. They started ten riders and all -- including Tom Danielson and Christian Vande Velde -- were on the attack. Blake Caldwell, Danny Pate, and Lucas Euser were among the five that finally broke away from a group containing George Hincapie, but they seemed flummoxed by the presence of both Tyler Hamilton and Jeff Louder. They attacked and counter-attacked, but Louder and Hamilton would not quit. Eventually Hamilton took the race into his own hands and went on the attack, with Caldwell following. The chase group of Pate and Euser were unable to drop Louder, so Caldwell was forced to deal with Hamilton all by himself.

It's been a great finish to the year for Rock Racing and there will be plenty of US championship kits to fly next year. Rahsaan Bahati took the US Crit championship and Justin Williams took the U23 championship.

August 30, 2008 now covering US Pro and Vuelta is now covering US PRO and the Vuelta. Apologies for the late update, but I managed to botch the code during the Olympics and hadn't had the time to put some band-aids on until just now. It's still a bit more trouble than its worth to cover multiple races simultaneously, but one day I'll make the code really solid. Soon.

August 27, 2008

Storck Absolutist 0.9 Review

Storck ReviewMy review is up on RoadbikeReview, please check it out and let me know what you think. I'd love to hear your critiques as one of the things I struggled on was how to find the right voice with the review -- i.e. the right balance between marketing info, personal anecdotes, attempted humor, and critique.

And yes, as the review reveals, I did crash the bike (lack of attention), though as you can tell from the video at the end that the damage wasn't too bad. I didn't really want to do a video, but I liked the video for the Campy Super Record so much that I thought it would be a bit hypocritical to not do one myself. I also became enamored with the idea of using my Park stand to rotate the bike around during the video -- I know it sounds silly, but it's like the stand was made so you could easily spin the bike around for shooting a video :).

I'm sad to see the bike go, even if my garage is a bit crowded. We're going up OLH today for our work lunch ride and I could really use all the assistance I can get.

Storck Absolutist 0.9 Review on

August 25, 2008

No US Pro for me

The scheduling demons have caught a hold of me and I have to cancel my US Pro trip. It's being trumped by an event that will fulfill a childhood dream -- vomiting in zero gravity -- so my sadness is short-lived. I was looking forward to shooting the race for the first time, meeting up with James again (and the other bloggy crew), etc... but there's always Interbike.

August 13, 2008

Get Your Kristin Armstrong Fix: Nature Valley Grand Prix to Re-Air

Kristin wins Stillwater.jpgNot satisfied with watching Kristin Armstrong tear up the Great Wall circuit? The 2008 Nature Valley Grand Prix is going to re-air on Versus on August 16th at 2:30pm and on August 19th at 4pm. You can watch as Kristin Armstrong battles the entire field with only a single teammate at her side. You can gaze in road-rash-horror at the torrential opening stage where Armstrong laps the field, but it doesn't count. You know you want to see that (again).

You can also watch as HealthNet and Bissell duke it out in the men's race: Jacques-Mayniacs vs. Roarin' Sutherland.

Relive the coverage like it's happening live by heading over to Podium In Sight and readin' the page in reverse ;).

Photo courtesy Nature Valley Grand Prix

Cancellara: Golden World Champion

Thumbnail image for BeijingOlympics.jpgCancellara vs. Contador, CSC vs. Astana, CSC vs. CSC, Astana vs. Astana. It was an up and down time trial that constantly redrew the lines of battle. The riders went off in three groups, with Canadian Svein Tuft the best of the first two groups, but it was the third group that really brought the fireworks.

Early on it was Contador scaling the Great Wall uphill, Cancellara tearing down that wall on the descents. Contador set the fastest time at the first time check on the uphill climb; Cancellara took back the lead at the second time check after the descent. Woe to any rider caught anywhere near the two as the passing of 90-second riders was fast and furious. Cancellara even got post-Tour-de-France revenge on Schumacher, who got to watch Cancellara power past at the start of the second lap.

Cancellara and Contador may have been eating up the time checks, but the man who was setting top times before them wasn't fading. Cancellara's CSC teammate Gustav Larsson had set the best times at the first and second checks before Cancellara and Contador rolled through. At first it looked like a battle between Larsson and Leipheimer, but Leipheimer slowly drifted further and further behind. CSC 1, Astana 0.

Big hopes were on Contador as he started his second lap. The uphill climb, which favored him so heavily the first lap, instead seemed to weigh heavily on his legs the second time around. Larsson, on the other hand, only improved on his position: this time when he set the fastest time at the third check, it stuck. CSC 2, Astana 0. Even Cancellara had to bow to Larsson's time.

With Leipheimer and Contador defeated, teammate was now turned against teammate. Contador now as battling Leipheimer for podium and It was up to Cancellara to prove his World Champion stripes by hunting Larsson down for gold.

It wasn't a fair battle. The time trial course was identical to the road race course. That final stretch into the finish is the same stretch that Cancellara screamed across to bridge two gaps and take bronze. They should rename that stretch in his honor because he tore it up again, taking the gold medal by almost half a minute. Larsson took silver and in the battle for bronze, Leipheimer held off both Contador and a late charge from Cadel Evans. On top of Kristin Armstrong's gold medal, USA cycling can be very proud.

As expected, the uphill course didn't suit Zabriskie's style and he wasn't able to best Svein Tuft's early best time. It seemed the course didn't really suit anyone, in fact. Plenty of riders in both the men's and women's time trial immediately dismounted and laid out on the ground just pass the finish. Even Cancellara had to take a seat and pour water of his head repeatedly., now with more race

tour_of_utah.jpgMy eventual plan is to set loose on as many different races as I can (especially the North American scene), but hastily written code at 4am during the Tour de France doesn't exactly grow well.

I've taken at my first step towards this grand goal. In addition to covering the Olympics, there is now a separate page for the Tour of Utah. There's some good content rolling in for the race already, so I hope this little experiment goes well.

August 12, 2008

Kristin Armstrong Gold!

Thumbnail image for BeijingOlympics.jpgShe's unbeatable on US soil and now she's crushed the field in China as well. Idaho powerhouse Kristin Armstrong, who took commanding victories at Cascades, the Nature Valley Grand Prix, and the Exeter TT, can now add a decisive gold medal to her tally as she won by nearly a half minute over the UK's Emma Pooley and Switzerland's Karin Thurig.

Emma Pooley seemed to set an unbeatable mark early in the day that others were minutes behind. Even Armstrong, who was busy passing Spain's Marta Vilajosana, couldn't best Pooley's time at the first split, but the race started to turn as towards the end of the opening climb. Armstrong was four seconds ahead at the top and powered on the descent to catch yet another rider in the sprint to the finish. Armstrong thanked many for her victory, including Cervelo for helping keep her equipment light for the climb, I suspect the legs have something to do with passing two riders on course and dominating the field.

France's 49-year-old cycling Queen Jeannie Longo was impressive in fourth, just two seconds off the podium. American (and Palo Alto native) Christine Thorburn also put in a good time to finish fifth another two seconds back. Both held close at the first time check, but the uphill finish seemed to just keep them out of contention.

Defending World Time Trial Champion Hanka Kupfernagel was distraught at the finish. The hot and humid Beijing conditions seemed a bit too much for her as she finished in 12th.

August 9, 2008

Sanchez is Gold

BeijingOlympics.jpgSpain got a well-earned gold as Samuel Sanchez took the sprint over Davide Rebellin and Fabian Cancellara. Spain played a good set of cards, first sending Carlos Sastre in an early break of 25+ riders that panicked teams like USA. USA was forced to burn Zabriskie and then McCartney early on in order to keep the gap on that break under control. When the peloton came back together, Sastre was then able to form the head of a top-class Spanish train: Sastre, Contador, Sanchez, and Valverde. Or as they now refer to themselves: le Tour, Giro-le Tour, Gold, and Spain.

The attrition was high under the assault of the Spanish Armada and even Contador had to pull the cord early, but it was Luxembourg's Andy Schleck that finally broke the race open. A group of twenty-or-so riders went off the front and Schleck attacked to whittle it down to Rebellin, Sanchez, Kolobnev, and Rogers. With some more digs it then became a select group of Schleck, Rebellin, and Sanchez, which looked like it could be the medal podium for the day.

But that was spoiled by the superhero move of the day, which goes to Fabian Cancellara. Michael Rogers and Alexandr Kolobnev were in a chase group behind, but as the kilometers ticked down -- 7km to go, 6km to go, 5km to go -- it just seemed that they would stay out of reach. With 2km to go the chase camera behind Rogers and Kolobnev suddenly panned back: Fabian Freakin' Cancellara, screaming across the gap! The TT champ's horsepower shot them across the gap to catch the leaders with 1km to go. It made for a tighter sprint and in the end it was Schleck who lost out as Cancellara rocketed to a podium position (sorry Luxembourg).

Leipheimer and Vande Velde were Team USA's best shots at a podium position. They both made the group of twenty that went away at the end, but neither could bridge up to the attack of Schleck. Leipheimer worked hard to bridge back to Vande Velde after being dropped, but the chase group lacked proper motivation with the likes of Alejandro Valverde, Cadel Evans and Paolo Bettini hanging on.

August 7, 2008 for the Olympics


Sorry folks, I was a bit busy, but is now up and running for the Olympics

Zabriskie Shaves

Proof here

August 6, 2008

Storck Absolutist 0.9 Photos


You may have noticed the Storck Absolutist 0.9 photos appearing in my Flickr photostream. I got a bit corny with the photo above going for the visual pun, "The Storck Takes Flight," aka the E.T. shot. I was looking to take a different shot as I despise catalog-y shots, so I raised the bike up and shot upwards. You'll also find a flash-fade experiment -- shooting faster than flash sync speed so you see the light wave -- in the set as well. Thien keeps telling me ever since I shot the Look Mondrian bike that I have a "Ken Conley" shot, so I try to defy him however I can.

I'm wrapping up the test riding and will start writing up the review for RoadbikeReview soon. You'll have to wait for that to get the official word, but I will say that I shattered some PRs on the bike.

I also shot the new Look 2009 line: 566, 576, 596, and 966. They are some beautiful bikes and I can't help envisioning myself pulling up to the line on a 596. That bike can split a hair. I was never much a fan of the 496, which seemed oddly chunky for a TT bike, but the 596, that's aerodynamic sculpture art. I hope to share those sometime soon.

August 4, 2008

Tour of Missouri Teams Announced, No Astana

Disco Posse - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley
Last year the Tour of Missouri was Discovery's last hurrah on American soil and they went out with a bang as George Hincapie took the overall and Levi Leipheimer hammered the time trial. Johan Bruyneel gave a tearful hand wave to the crowd as the 7-Eleven, Motorola, USPS, Discovery Channel lineage was honored at the St. Louis finale. It's going to be a different story this year as George Hincapie will be back, but Discovery, in the form of Astana, will not. Just like the Tour de France, there will be no Contador or Levi, but I imagine this is for very different reasons.

Similarly, Luciano Pagliarini won't be able to add to his ToM stage wins as the team formerly known as Saunier-Duval-Scott won't be making an appearance. Instead, Rabobank and Liquigas will be there to help maintain the high ranking of the event.

Danny Pate - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley
Garmin-Chipotle will of course be there. They've gotten a lot of mileage out of Danny Pate's winning salute in his stage-5 solo victory and this time around the fans will be out to honor their Tour de France performance.

The 2008 Tour of Missouri teams:

  • Garmin-Chipotle
  • Columbia
  • Liquigas
  • Rabobank
  • Symmetrics
  • BMC
  • Sparkasse
  • Tecos
  • Health Net presented by MAXXIS
  • Toyota-United
  • Rock Racing
  • Colavita Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light
  • Bissell
  • Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast
  • Jelly Belly

August 2, 2008

Bikes at Work

Bikes at work

I counted 20+ bikes at work today. We have less than 40 people in our company, though quite a few of them are car-less interns. Nevertheless, that seems like a pretty good ratio -- you can also throw in 4 carpoolers, one electric vehicle, one biodiesel, and one pedestrian.

We finally reached a critical point that we've had a bike rack installed outside to handle the overflow. There are 4 bikes that our company provides as communal bikes for riding into downtown Palo Alto or elsewhere during the day and they are also being co-opted for commuting to and from work.

There's also now enough roadies at work that we're starting to do weekly rides up Old la Honda and back for lunch.