Nevada City Classic 2009: Pro Men (aka Lance Fest)

Lance Armstrong Wins - (c) Ken Conley
Lance Armstrong Post-Race - (c) Ken Conley
Lance Armstrong Attacks - (c) Ken Conley Lance Armstrong Attacks - (c) Ken Conley
Ben Jacques-Maynes - (c) Ken Conley Levi Pre-Race - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

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The Nevada City Classic can add another awesome event to its storied book. I don't know how a tiny little historic town like Nevada City does it, but they had no trouble absorbing the throngs of Lance Armstrong worshippers that transformed the 1.1 mile cycling stadium. I've never heard a crowd at a cycling race as loud as I heard when Armstrong came across the finish line solo and it may be long before I witness something that awesome again. Michael Hernandez compared it to a football stadium -- which is about right, but imagine that on a city street instead. Sorry Tour of California, but I think the little town has you beat for premier California race of 2009.

The circuit is an excellent course that starts the riders going downhill before quickly turning back uphill, winding through the historic district, out over the rolling hills of the surrounding neighborhood, and then plunging back downhill into the historic district. It's a course that will break your legs and puts teams at the disadvantage. Even Astana's big three -- Armstrong, Leipheimer, Horner -- couldn't figure out what to do with Bissell's Ben Jacques-Maynes. They shed the rest of the field and pressed their advantage again and again, but it took a final assault from Mr. Seven-Time to put in a gap. Any day that you go up against two of the best time-trialists in the world and come away second is a victory.

Armstrong is looking in pretty good shape for the Tour de France. He looked 'fat' at the Tour of California, at least in a relative sense, but I didn't get that impression watching him this weekend. I still don't think he stands a chance in hell of winning, but he's in good enough shape that I think the Astana team dynamics with Contador won't be so healthy. As for Horner, he had trouble keeping pace and I wonder if he's healed-up enough from his recent crashes to make the Tour cut.

As for my own preparedness for dealing with LanceFest, I scored poorly. At the end of the womens' race I managed to sprain my quad while standing up (yes, that simple). I went from having the opportunity to shoot from moto to hobbling around on the sidelines. My injured quad meant that I could really only shoot from two points out on the course, but thankfully it's a pretty course. Lesson learned: always stretch, even for taking pictures.

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Comments (1)


The overhead shot is fantastic.

(Also digging the "STOP", but for entirely different reasons . . .)

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