2006 Sea Otter (Saturday): Elite Pro Male Circuit Race

The men's pro race had a big surprise entry: Levi Leipheimer, who raced without a team. I've seen Dave Zabriskie shatter a North American field without the benefit of a team, so I'm sure the rest of the riders were more than a little worried about Levi. Levi was back in California to train for the Tour de France and decided to put in some miles on the Laguna Seca track. It's difficult to say whether or not Levi gave it his full effort after finishing in 8th place. I mean, the guy is smiling going up the Rahal Straight, which was the main climb on the course that they had to do 31 times:

Levi feels no pain-1

He does look a bit more determined at the end:

Sea Otter-Levi Leipheimer

The Laguna Seca track is wonderful for spectating. From the top of the Rahal Straight you can look down and see riders come around the Andretti Hairpin and into the final straightway for the finish (course map). You can also go down to turn 10 and see the Hairpin and finishline as well.

The road race was won by Jelly Belly rider Matty Rice, who attacked on the final lap and was able to hold off a chasing group that contained surprise entry Levi Leipheimer. I was confused at first because my photos from Rainey Curve (just below The Corkscrew) showed Jelly Belly rider Caleb Manion in the lead on the final lap. Manion had attacked on the final climb and was being chased by Levi Leipheimer and HealthNet's Karl Menzies. ota and I ran down from Rainey Curve to turn 10 so that we could watch the finish of the race from a distance. What we saw was a Jelly Belly rider easily holding off a pack of seven chasers. I assumed it was Caleb Manion, but it turns out that Leipheimer and Menzies caught Manion, but were then counter-attacked by Matty Rice. Rice and Manion are from the town in Tasmania -- Launceston -- so it's rather fitting that those two teammates would putting in a good one-two attack for the win. In fact, the top three finishers of the race -- Rice, Menzies, and Manion, are all from the same town in Tasmania. That town must be shaped like the Laguna Seca track, because that's just weird.

Race-winner Matty Rice descending Matty Rice-1 Caleb Manion attacks on the final lap Levi Charges-1 Gord Fraser and Ben Jacques-Maynes-1

I have plenty more photos on Flickr, including photos from other events at Sea Otter.

related articles: Sea Otter Classic

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