Category: Tour of California 2008

March 1, 2008

A Whole New Peloton

BMC - (c) Ken Conley Slipstream - (c) Ken Conley

The thought that struck me the most during this year's Tour of California was how different the peloton is now, both in terms of racing as well as from the American fan perspective. As long as USPS/Discovery Channel was around, the landscape of pro American cycling was shaped by the presence, then void, of Lance Armstrong. Even CSC played second fiddle to Discovery Channel on American soil. Astana may share a strong lineage with Discovery Channel, but it is a very different squad, and the American Disco talent has been spread to CSC, Slipstream, High Road, and BMC. The consequence was a much more even Tour of California: seven different teams -- CSC, Rabobank, Quick Step, Toyota-United, Astana, Saunier-Duval, and High Road -- won stages in the Tour of California. CSC was the only team to win two.

In previous years crowds would flock to the Discovery Channel bus and leave the others relatively quiet. This year it seemed that nearly all the teams were popular attractions. As we look forward to the rest of the year, Americans will have a lot of teams to root for on the international stage: Hincapie on High Road, Leipheimer and Horner on Astana, Julich and McCartney on CSC, Zabriskie, Danielson, and Vande Velde on Slipstream, Cruz and Nydam on BMC, and so on (I'm leaving out riders as the list grows too long).

I'm most excited by Slipstream and BMC as the improvements they have made over previous years are amazing. Last year, Slipstream was going for all the secondary prizes it could muster and did quite well, but this year they landed the overall jersey for a stage, best team, and second/third place on the overall podium. BMC came out of seemingly nowhere and frequently had two riders on stage donning both the Most Aggressive and KOM jerseys; they were awarded the Most Aggressive so often that the final Most Aggressive award went to the entire team. Slipstream seems to me to be the new CSC and BMC the new Slipstream, though Slipstream is achieving its successes largely on the shoulders of it's world class TT talent. Now both Slipstream and BMC have scored invitations to the Criterium International, and Slipstream has its eyes on a Tour de France spot.

This isn't to say that I'm glad that Discovery Channel has disbanded, but I am excited by the new landscape for American cycling. It was the success of the USPS/Discovery program that helped put American cycling in this position and I'm happy to see it so strong, even if cycling as a whole is still battling larger problems.

February 29, 2008

Lineup

kwc.org - mjohnson_stage1_15.jpg

Photo by Mark Johnson/ironstring.com

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.

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 Cyclelicio.us 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

Deez-stache

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 LetLeviRide.com. 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.

Steephill.tv 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 http://kwc.org/cycling/photos/ shortly after each race finishes. Those of you with RSS readers can subscribe to http://kwc.org/cycling/photos/atom.xml. 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:

  • Steephill.tv will do a good job as always
  • Fritz of Cyclelicio.us 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.
Video:

Also, enjoy the photos.

Levi and Friends Photo Gallery

January 24, 2008

ToC Palo Alto Prologue needs $$$

The Palo Daily News is reporting that fundraising efforts in Palo Alto for the Tour of California are currently lagging: the local organizing committee has only raised half of the $195,000 needed to cover police and other costs. If they are unable to foot the bill, the shortfall will be split evenly between Palo Alto, AEG, and Stanford, but hopefully local businesses will step up to the plate as 50,000 people are expected to flood the streets of downtown Palo Alto during the kickoff.

Article

January 17, 2008

2008 Tour of California Prologue Time Trial Challenge

Tour of CaliforniaPalo Alto announced a 'Time Trial Challenge' to occur on the same day as the Prologue on Feburary 17th.

Time Trial Challenge:

  • Experience of a Lifetime
  • Rub Shoulders with athletes
  • Time yourself against the Mayor, your neighbors and pro athletes.
  • Challenge your friends, workmates and business competitors
  • Donations to Palo Alto Rec. Foundation (a nonprofit, publicly supported grant making foundation to support youth programs)
  • Celebrity Challenge between media personalities.
  • Minimum Bid of $500
  • Top 25 donors will have the opportunity to ride the official UCI route.
  • Check website for latest info: www.paloaltostanfordprologue.com

It's not often you get city streets closed off to just you and other bikes. I'd consider entering if I wasn't working the camera... and if I were a better rider ;).

Palo Alto Stanford Prologue

2008 Tour of California Teams

Tour of CaliforniaThe teams were announced today and the list should provide many storylines: polar opposites Slipstream and Rock Racing, Hincapie leading Team High Road against Leipheimer/Astana, Gerolsteiner in its final year, Health Net defending their NRC crown, Scott Moninger directing Toyota-United against his former team BMC, etc...

  • Astana (LUX)
  • Bissell Pro Cycling Team (USA)
  • BMC Racing Team (USA)
  • Bouygues Telecom (FRA)
  • Crédit Agricole (FRA)
  • Gerolsteiner (GER)
  • Health Net Presented by Maxxis (USA)
  • High Road Sports (GER)
  • Jelly Belly Cycling Team (USA)
  • Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast (USA)
  • Quick Step (BEL)
  • Rabobank Cycling Team (Netherlands)
  • Rock Racing (USA)
  • Saunier Duval-Scott (ESP)
  • Team CSC (DEN)
  • Team Slipstream Powered by Chipotle (USA)
  • Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team (USA)

Last year the Tour of California overall was been dominated by Discovery vs. CSC, but with the spread of Discovery's American talent to High Road and Slipstream, as well as the CSC's loss of Zabriskie and Vande Velde to Slipstream, this should be a more balanced competition. This could even be the year of Slipstream's ascension in American tours.

Press Release

January 10, 2008

BMC @ Pasta? tonight

I probably won't be able to make this one:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BMC Cycling Team at Local Restaurant

Palo Alto, CA -- Thursday January 10, PASTA? Restaurant located at 326 University Avenue in Palo Alto will be hosting the entire BMC Cycling Team and their entourage for dinner at 8pm. PASTA? is located along the official Palo Alto – Stanford Prologue route.

The Swiss based BMC Professional team will finish their week long training session for the Prologue today. After a grueling day cycling Mount Hamilton, the 16 person team will have the opportunity to enjoy a hearty family style Italian meal with the entire team and entourage.

This week’s training session has been the first time the entire team has tested the new BMC bicycles on local roads together. Of the 16 member team, 11 are American, one is from South Africa and four are Swiss. Only 8 riders will compete in the 2008 Amgen Tour of California.

Official Team Announcements will be made the week of January 14, for the 2008 Amgen Tour of California and details of individual members will be announced shortly thereafter. Teams from around the world will be coming to California for the largest, international professional cycling race in the United States.

The 2008 Amgen Tour of California is an eight-day US cycling event starting in Palo Alto on Sunday February 17, 2008. World class cyclists will kick off at 1 p.m. with a short, intense, individual time trial of about two miles. The Palo Alto – Stanford University Prologue is fast, flat, short and promises to be most exciting. Volunteer opportunities for this event are available at http://www.amgentourofcalifornia.com/Tour/volunteer.html Further information at www.paloaltostanfordprologue.com or email ladyalibug@gmail.com

January 9, 2008

BMC @ Hobees

BMC Dinner

Fritz/Cyclelicious alerted me to the BMC team dinner at Hobees in Palo Alto. The team is in town previewing the Tour of California route. I went on over to find out what the team had planned for the rest of their training camp. You can catch them on Mount Hamilton on Friday (1:30-ish) or along the Sausalito/Santa Rosa route on Monday (depart Mill Valley 10am). I took some photos while I was there, though I restrained myself given the Hobees setting.

BMC Dinner Photo Gallery

November 13, 2007

Tour of California 2008 Route

toc.logo.gifThe 2008 Amgen Tour of California Route has been announced. Some interesting details:

  • Prologue: The short prologue trades SF's Telegraph Hill for the Stanford Oval. The Oval should provide better viewing for spectators, but less challenging for the riders.
  • Stage 1/2: Pretty much the same?
  • Stage 3: Mt Hamilton has been added to the course, so the riders will now have to contend with both the Hamilton and Sierra Rd climb in a 26 mile stretch, before the long 18-mile run-in to the finish. Voigt, Leipheimer, and Horner managed to succeed in a break with just Sierra Road in the mix. The addition of Hamilton adds a much desired climb and new strategic element to the race.
  • Stage 4/5/6: Pretty much the same?
  • Stage 7: The final stage gets a bit of retooling: a 60-mile course from Santa Clarita to Pasadena, including the highest elevation of any ToC route (Millcreek Summit), followed by 6 five-mile laps around the Rose Bowl.

Now I'm off to head to route announcement ceremony at Palo Alto.

July 25, 2007

Tour of California Palo Alto Announcement

Representatives from local cycling clubs look on at the Palo Alto Prologue announcement

LeviPeninsula cyclists will be excited that Palo Alto and Stanford is hosting the Prologue for the 2008 Tour of California. Palo Alto was approached to bid this year and was able to wrest the start of the up-and-coming event from San Francisco.

Palo Alto Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto rode in on her well-ridden red bicycle to play emcee for this event that featured several speakers, including President of USA Cycling, Jim Orchowicz, and San Jose City Council Member Sam Liccardo. Local bike clubs were also well-represented with an array of local club representatives lined up behind the stage and Ted Huang of Webcor giving a brief speech. Speakers emphasized Palo Alto's bicycling community -- it was the first to pioneer the idea of a bike boulevard -- as well as its cycling terrain as factors in this year's selection.

The prologue announcement was sparse on the most important detail -- the actual route -- but it was described as a short route that would cross from the Palo Alto City Hall onto the Stanford campus along Palm Drive. The overall route this year is very similar to last year, except for the move of the Prologue to Palo Alto and the finishing stage now from Santa Clarita to Pasadena. The San Jose stage start was also changed to Modesto.

Mayor Kishimoto looks on during Ochowicz's speech SJ City Council Member Liccardo hoists the ToC jersey Jim Ochowicz, President of USA Cycling, talks about the Palo Alto Prologue IMG_8476

Cyclists present naturally wished that the route this year could have included some of the classic climbs in the area like King's or Highway 9, but logistical issues like road closures and TV coverage (most climbs in this area have tree overhangs) ruled those out for this year.

Amgen Tour of California Press Release: Host Cities Announced for 2008 Amgen Tour of California

More Photos

July 24, 2007

Tour of California rumor mill: Palo Alto announcement Wednesday

Al tells me that there's going to be a Tour of California announcement Wednesday (tomorrow) at 10:30AM. Should be the rumored Palo Alto Prologue course for next year's ToC. Go Peninsula!

June 23, 2007

Tour of California may start in Palo Alto

The ToC prologue may be moving down the peninsula to Palo Alto. AEG invited Palo Alto and Stanford to host the course and the Palo Alto City Council has approved. Riders would do a short 3-mile trek from Palo Alto City Hall to the Stanford Campus.

I'm definitely excited. I love the Coit Tower Prologue in San Francisco, but us peninsula people have been dying to see the ToC run through our backyard. I don't know what the impact will be on Stage 1 -- may we'll get to see Kings Mountain/Skyline/etc... in the mix.

Palo Alto Online Article