Stage 2 Journal

Today started off a bit early as I was desperate to get out of my less-than-stellar, Hotwire-booked hotel room. This gave me plenty of time to admire the downtown architecture of Statesboro, which is so quaint that it lies at the intersection of not one, but two Main Streets. I caught the rider rollout through this intersection as well as a friendy Nydam/Leipheimer greeting and some Zabriskie mustache twirling. The highlight of the morning was Freedom, the young bald eagle. Freedom is so cool that he has his own Bald Eagle mascot.

Statesboro Start - (c) Ken Conley Honor Guard - (c) Ken Conley Dave Zabriskie - (c) Ken Conley Leipheimer and Nydam - (c) Ken Conley Bald Eagle - (c) Ken Conley Bald Eagle - (c) Ken Conley

The rest of the day Rocked, as in, I teamed up with the staff of Rock Racing. Mario, a Rock fashion photographer converted over to cycling hitched a ride with me along the stage. I'm glad I don't do fashion, as he told me how other photographers will screw with your gear if you let it out of your sight. We were reminded later that US cycling photography is much more friendly.

Despite overshooting our destination twice, we managed to catch the riders at Millen and the finish. I was caught a bit off guard in Millen as we were told that the Marco Polo rider was 2 minutes ahead. Instead, we were greeted to the sight of the Marco Polo rider being enveloped by a Tyler-Farrar-led sprint. I squeezed off a panning shot of Farrar taking the sprint and a series of slow-shutter shots of the riders zooming past Millen's stately building, hoping to get something usable. Intermediate sprints often don't have as much race story in them, so you're much more free to screw around as a photographer.

Millen Sprint - (c) Ken Conley Millen Sprint - (c) Ken Conley

After an accidental detour into South Carolina, we made it to Augusta. Mario noticed that there was a balcony overlooking the finish and came up with the idea of handing off our second cameras to the PR folks. He gave his to Sean Weide and I gave mine to Katrina Florence, who did a stellar job. Mario and I caught some shots of riders hopping the RR tracks and he was probably happy to get some shots of Sevilla jumping off the front with one lap to go.

I did the normal finish line shot from the photographer scrum. It was fairly easy to pick out JJ Haedo screaming up the middle, though I missed the victory salute because I flubbed my focus onto Farrar. I didn't realize until I checked my camera that the sprint was really, really close -- Henderson's wheel was maybe a quarter wheel behind Haedo's.

Peloton - (c) Ken Conley Peloton - (c) Ken Conley

JJ Haedo Sprints to Victory - (c) Ken Conley JJ Haedo Sprints to Victory - (c) Ken Conley JJ Haedo Sprints to Victory - (c) Ken Conley Dominguez Congratulates Haedo - (c) Ken Conley JJ Haedo - (c) Ken Conley JJ Haedo - (c) Ken Conley

Katrina Florence's photos:

Start of the First Lap in Augusta - (c) Ken Conley Sprint Finish - (c) Ken Conley

The podium presentation was interesting. They had grabbed Tyler Farrar for the Best Young Rider jersey, but after later realized that the tie-breaking rules actually kept the jersey with Sanderson. They brought Dominguez on stage instead to give him the sprint jersey, but the Lt. Governor accidentally grabbed the blue jersey with the Slipstream logo on it. Dominguez jokingly pushed it away, saying that he would get fired if he put that on.

Ivan Dominguez - (c) Ken Conley

Sanderson was fetched from his hotel, but the Best Young Rider had a Slipstream logo on it. In the first of three attempts, they brought Sanderson on stage and gave him flowers, but no jersey. Off stage they then stuck Sanderson in a green jersey and attempted to peel the Jelly Belly logo off of it. With the announcer already bringing the festivities to a close, they snuck Sanderson on stage with the green jersey. They still needed to show off the blue jersey, so finally brought all the jersey holders on stage and somehow managed to get Dominguez a blue jersey with a Toyota-United logo on it. Make sense?

I pretend not to understand these things -- for example, I have no idea why Sanderson was awarded the green jersey at yesterday's podium ceremony, when it was actually Dominguez who won it. I am also puzzled as to why Justin England didn't get the Most Aggressive Award today. Actually, not puzzled -- it's probably because Dominguez had yellow and green -- but I like Justin England and wish I got to shoot him on the podium, instead of in front of the broom wagon, tired from his hard work.

Nicholas Sanderson - (c) Ken Conley Nicholas Sanderson - (c) Ken Conley Nicholas Sanderson - (c) Ken Conley Jerseys - (c) Ken Conley Ivan Dominguez - (c) Ken Conley Justin England - (c) Ken Conley

related articles: Tour de Georgia 2008
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