Tour of California Wrap-Up

Let’s talk Tour of California. 

First, I was SO excited for this race. It was so cool too see all these big riders and teams talking about coming to the US and California. I was reeeally sad that I wasn’t able to go to Cali to have a chance to see some of the riders I love so much. 

It was crazy weird to see the peloton racing on American streets- I’m so used to watching them navigate small European roads, with roundabouts and weird road furniture. But I LOVED seeing the domestic teams and riders racing! Jeremy Powers, Jamey Driscoll, Ben Jacques-Maynes, Mike Creed, Mike Friedman, Bissel, UnitedHealthcare, Kelly Benefits Strategies- guys and teams I followed on twitter and read about in news were racing ON MY TV! So cool. And man, did they work their butts off. They were in all the breaks and worked hard in the bunch. I would’ve loved to see one of the domestic teams take a stage win or see a domestic rider in the top 5, but no luck. 

The race did not get a lot of love at the beginning. What with the first stage being cancelled for weather and the second stage being shortened, the start of the race missed a lot of the fabulous scenery that is standard for bike races. The majority of the shortened second stage was raced through suburbs, so there wasn’t too much to see. Many watchers were not impressed. There were lots of complaints about strip malls, parking lots, etc. I don’t know if I was especially sensitive because it was a race in my home country, or if people were being extra mean, but all the hate was pretty upsetting! I mean, yeah, it’s not super exciting and scenery isn’t awesome, but don’t a lot of bike races have this? Strip malls, parking lots, malls- the US isn’t the only country to have those! And the race has only just started! Give it time! But as the race went on, and as it moved into the more mountainous and more scenery-laden stage, it definitely improved. 

However, once Chris Horner soloed to the win on stage 4, I kinda lost interest. His lead was so big that it was clear no one was going to be able to catch him. All the riders I supporting were really far down on the GC, with no chance of even breaking into the top 3. Andy Schleck, my top favorite, barely seemed to be riding! And, I don’t really care for Horner. Or Levi. They both seem like a nice guys, but they just doesn’t do it for me. In addition, while it was cool to see RadioShack lead the race so decisively, I also don’t really like RadioShack. Of all the American teams, it’s the one I care for the least. So, after stage 4, I watched, but wasn’t invested. BUT, it was still fun to watch, I loved seeing my American cyclists ride their hearts out, and seeing the top 5 spots occupied by Americans was pretty awesome! I’ll watch again next year, hopefully from the sidelines.

OH, let’s talk about the Shack Tour Tracker! Now, I don’t like RadioShack much, but they had an awesome set up that allowed people to stream on the web AND on their smartphones/tablets. It was a great way to share the race and allow those without access to Versus a way to watch. I hope more races follow their lead!

Photo:  Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America

Tour of California Stage 8: Goss sprints to win, Horner takes overall

The writers over at US Pro Cycling News (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California.

On the last day of the Tour of California, during a stage that was destined to end in a bunch sprint, Chris Horner’s top podium spot was in no danger, but his team did not just sit back- they worked on the front for much of race. Their work contributed to the break being pulled back and the inevitable bunch sprint. While Sky started out the perfect lead out for their sprinter, Greg Henderson, Leigh Howard of HTC-Highroad was able to start his lead out for Matt Goss in front of them, and slow them down enough to allow Goss an uncontested sprint to the line. Check out Fitzalan’s recap!

Top 5 Stage results

  1. Matt Goss AUS (HTC-Highroad)
  2. Peter Sagan SVK (Liquigas-Cannondale)
  3. Greg Henderson NZL (Sky)
  4. Oscar Freire SPA (Rabobank)
  5. Kevin Lacombe CAN (Team Spidertech)
Top 5 Final GC
  1. Chris Horner USA (RadioShack)
  2. Levi Leipheimer USA (RadioShack) at 38 sec
  3. Tom Danielson USA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 2:45
  4. Christian Vande Velde USA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 3:18
  5. Tejay Van Garderen USA (HTC-Highroad) at 3:23
Top 5 Final Points Classification (Sprint jersey)
  1. Peter Sagan
  2. Greg Henderson NZL (Sky)
  3. Ben Swift GBR (Sky)
  4. Matt Goss AUS (HTC-Highroad)
  5. Juan Jose Haedo ARG (Saxo Bank Sungard)
Top 5 Mountains Classification (King of the Mountain jersey)
  1. Pat McCarty USA (Spidertech)
  2. Levi Leipheimer USA (RadioShack)
  3. Chris Horner USA (RadioShack)
  4. Tom Danielson USA (Garmin-Cervelo)
  5. Andy Schleck LUX (Leopard Trek)
Top 5 Final Best Young Rider
  1. Tejay Van Garderen USA (HTC-Highroad)
  2. Andrew Talansky USA (Garmin-Cervelo)
  3. Rafal Majka POL (Saxo Bank Sungard)
  4. Peter Sagan
  5. Timothy Roe AUS (BMC)
Top 5 Final Best Teams
  1. Garmin-Cervelo
  2. RadioShack
  3. BMC
  4. Rabobank
  5. UnitedHealthcare

Photo: Cyclingweekly.co.uk/Will Swetnam

Tour of California Stage 7: Mt. Baldy delivers pain

The writers over at US Pro Cycling News (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California.

The queen stage of the Tour of California happened today, and boy, did it deliver. Once the race reached Mt. Baldy, a high pace and attacks from the field shattered the peloton and attacks in the front shattered the breakaway. Ultimately, Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer were the only breakaway riders able to maintain a pace up the mountain and crossed the line together. With this stage, Horner solidified and secured his lead, with Danielson now over 2 minutes behind him. Check out Fitzalan’s recap!

Top 5 Stage results

  1. Levi Leipheimer USA (RadioShack)
  2. Chris Horner USA (RadioShack)
  3. Laurens Ten Dam NED (Rabobank) at 43 sec
  4. Tom Danielson USA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 1:01
  5. Steve Morabito SWI (BMC) at 1:21
Top 5 GC
  1. Chris Horner
  2. Levi Leipheimer at 38 sec
  3. Tom Danielson at 2:45
  4. Christian Vande Velde USA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 3:18
  5. Tejay Van Garderen USA (HTC-Highroad) at 3:23

Photo: CyclingFans.com/Pensinger

Tour of California Stage 6: Dave Z, Americans with strong TT showing

The writers over at US Pro Cycling News (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California.

Today’s stage was an Individual Time Trial in Solvange. While Taylor Phinney put up an impressive 2nd place, the riders after him were consistently good, pushing Taylor down to 21st by the end of the stage. In the end, Garmin-Cervelo’s TT specialist, Dave Zabriskie killed the competition and won the stage.  Check out Fitzalan’s recap!

Top 5 Stage results

  1. Dave Zabriskie USA (Garmin-Cervelo)
  2. Levi Leipheimer USA (RadioShack) at 14sec
  3. Tejay Van Garderen USA (HTC-Highroad) at 40sec
  4. Peter Velits SVK (HTC-Highroad) at 48sec
  5. Maarten Tjallingii NED (Rabobank) at 49sec
Top 5 GC
  1. Chris Horner
  2. Levi Leipheimer at 38sec
  3. Rory Sutherland at 1:38
  4. Christian Vande Velde at 1:39
  5. Tom Danielson at 1:44

Photo: Casey B. Gibson/VeloNews.com

Tour of California Stage 5: Sagan and the sprint

This is a reprint of an article I wrote for US Pro Cycling News. The writers over there (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California.

Stage 5 of the Tour of California offered up some more climbing. While it was nothing like yesterday’s climb, which allowed Chris Horner to attack and win the stage and the yellow jersey, there were still 4 categorized climbs. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) got into the break early and hung until the very end. Hoping to score a stage win for Rabobank, which was sponsoring the stage, he was denied 100 meters from the line, and the stage ended in a bunch sprint, with Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) handily taking the stage.

The Break

About 25km into the stage, a four man break got away, consisting of Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Chris Froome (Sky), Daniel Martin (Garmin-Cervelo) and Chris Baldwin (Bissell Cycling). However, soon after the first KOM, an attack from the bunch allowed Martin Velits (HTC-Highroad), Maarten Tjallingi (Rabobank), Pat McCarty (Team Spidertech Powered By C10), and Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) to join the leaders. McCarty was the leader in the KOM jersey, and clearly was looking to stay there. However, he’d have to battle Anthony for maximum points , as he was only a few points behind. As they reached the 2nd KOM, the aggressive racing continued, with Jeffry Louder (BMC Racing Team), Stefan Denifl (Leopard Trek), and Brad White (UnitedHealthcare) attacking from the peloton and making across the gap to the leaders. This group of 11 was the break of the day, and their largest gap was 3’30″.

Again, RadioShack worked at the front of the peloton to keep the break in check. Tjallingi tried an attack on the break but only managed 20sec before he was brought back. By the time the break had reached the last KOM, riders had started to fall off of the break. When McCarty took maximum points over the top of the climb, Denifl and Freire took off and left the rest of the breakaway riders in their dust. The two worked together for awhile, but when Denifl got a flat, Freire took off. At 7km to go, he had 1 minute, but try as he might, a solo break win was not to be and he was swept up with 2.5km to go.

All together now

Once everyone was back together, a couple of attacks happened, notably George Hincapie (BMC). Jeremy Vannell (Bissell) also tried, but neither were successful. The pace in the run to the line was so high, the peloton was strung out and fractured.

As the finish line loomed, Leigh Howard (HTC-Highroad) started the sprint, followed closely by Ben Swift (Sky), but Sagan took them both coming around the outside to get to the line just before Howard, who had left a little too early.

It must be said that Bissell has been the star American team here in Cali. They’ve had men in the break every day and are racing to win (even though they haven’t yet!). For myself, I would love to see a domestic team get at least one stage win, but with only three days left, chances are running out. Today’s stage had no impact on the GC, or the time gaps, and Horner keeps his yellow jersey. Tomorrow is the individual time trial, which will hopefully see Taylor Phinney kicking some heiny!

Top 5 Stage results

  1. Peter sagan SVK (Liquigas-Cannondale)
  2. Leigh Howard AUS (HTC-Highroad)
  3. Ben Swift GBR (Sky)
  4. Paul Martens GER (Rabobank)
  5. Alexander Candelario USA (Kelly Benefit Stratgies)
Top 5 GC
  1. Chris Horner USA (RadioShack)
  2. Levi Leipheimer USA (RadioShack) at 1:15
  3. Tom Danielson USA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 1:22
  4. Christian Vande Velde USA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 1:29
  5. Rory Sutherland AUS (UnitedHealthCare) at 1:30

Photo: AP

Tour of California Stage 3: Team Sky, Take 2

The writers over at US Pro Cycling News (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California.

Stage 5 of the Tour of California offered up some more climbing. While it was nothing like yesterday’s climb, which allowed Chris Horner to attack and win the stage and the yellow jersey, there were still 4 categorized climbs. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) got into the break early and hung until the very end. Hoping to score a stage win for Rabobank, which was sponsoring the stage, he was denied 100 meters from the line, and the stage ended in a bunch sprint, with Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) handily taking the stage.

The Break

About 25km into the stage, a four man break got away, consisting of Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Chris Froome (Sky), Daniel Martin (Garmin-Cervelo) and Chris Baldwin (Bissell Cycling). However, soon after the first KOM, an attack from the bunch allowed Martin Velits (HTC-Highroad), Maarten Tjallingi (Rabobank), Pat McCarty (Team Spidertech Powered By C10), and Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) to join the leaders. McCarty was the leader in the KOM jersey, and clearly was looking to stay there. However, he’d have to battle Anthony for maximum points , as he was only a few points behind. As they reached the 2nd KOM, the aggressive racing continued, with Jeffry Louder (BMC Racing Team), Stefan Denifl (Leopard Trek), and Brad White (UnitedHealthcare) attacking from the peloton and making across the gap to the leaders. This group of 11 was the break of the day, and their largest gap was 3’30″.

Again, RadioShack worked at the front of the peloton to keep the break in check. Tjallingi tried an attack on the break but only managed 20sec before he was brought back. By the time the break had reached the last KOM, riders had started to fall off of the break. When McCarty took maximum points over the top of the climb, Denifl and Freire took off and left the rest of the breakaway riders in their dust. The two worked together for awhile, but when Denifl got a flat, Freire took off. At 7km to go, he had 1 minute, but try as he might, a solo break win was not to be and he was swept up with 2.5km to go.

All together now

Once everyone was back together, a couple of attacks happened, notably George Hincapie (BMC). Jeremy Vannell (Bissell) also tried, but neither were successful. The pace in the run to the line was so high, the peloton was strung out and fractured.

As the finish line loomed, Leigh Howard (HTC-Highroad) started the sprint, followed closely by Ben Swift (Sky), but Sagan took them both coming around the outside to get to the line just before Howard, who had left a little too early.

It must be said that Bissell has been the star American team here in Cali. They’ve had men in the break every day and are racing to win (even though they haven’t yet!). For myself, I would love to see a domestic team get at least one stage win, but with only three days left, chances are running out. Today’s stage had no impact on the GC, or the time gaps, and Horner keeps his yellow jersey. Tomorrow is the individual time trial, which will hopefully see Taylor Phinney kicking some heiny!

Photo: AP

Tour of California Stage 4: Horner crushes on the first climbs

The writers over at US Pro Cycling News (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California.

Yesterday’s stage of the Tour of California featured the first of the real climbing. Chris Horner smashed the competition on Mt. Hamilton, and rode his way into the yellow jersey. Check out Fitzalan’s recap!

Top 5 Stage results

  1. Chris Horner USA (RadioShack)
  2. Andy Schleck LUX (Leopard Trek) at 1:15
  3. Rory Sutherland AUS (UnitedHealthCare) at 1:15
  4. Levi Leipheimer USA (RadioShack) at 1:15
  5. Tom Danielson USA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 1:22
Top 5 GC
  1. Chris Horner
  2. Levi Leipheimer at 1:15
  3. Tom Danielson at 1:22
  4. Christian Vande Velde USA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 1:29
  5. Rory Sutherland at 1:30

Photo: Casey B. Gibson/VeloNews.com

Tour of California Stage 3: Team Sky, Take 2

The writers over at US Pro Cycling News (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California. Also, be sure to check out Fitzalan’s take on the stage from the ground!

A stage that was destined to end up in a sprint surely did. The riders started in crap weather conditions, with rain, wind, and 52 degree weather. Thankfully, the rain let up as the stage went on, but the wind and the cold did not. Despite a strong crosswind near the end, the wind did not end up being much of deciding factor in this stage, and the bunch was together at the end when Greg Henderson, of Team Sky, took the stage win.

Domestic riders in the break

Like yesterday, a passel of Domestic riders got into the breakaway within the first few kilometers. Seven riders made up the eventual break: Christian Meier (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling), Jan Barta (Team NetApp), Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Cycling, and the brother of yesterday’s breakaway rider, Ben Jacques-Maynes), William Dickeson (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Phillip Gaimon (Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling p/b Geargrinder), Mike Creed (Kelly Benefits Strategy) and Jamey Driscoll (Jamis-Sutter Home), who was in the break yesterday and took home the Most Courageous Rider’s jersey. Their lead settled in at around 6:40 until the reached the halfway point, when the peloton started to pick up the pace behind them. However, this increase in pace did not mean a quick scoop up of the break- it continued to toil away until it reached Modesto. Gaimon was the first to drop from the back, with 73km to go.

By 30km to go, Jacques-Maines and Barta were alone at the front, while the peloton behind them coped with crosswinds. The field was split up something fierce, with many favorites caught out the back, but soon another road change direction helped bring the peloton back together.

Soon Barta was by himself at the front, but that was short lived, as they came into Modesto. Once the peloton came into Modesto for two laps of a 4.5 circuit, he was swept up.

Crashes in Modesto

As the peloton came into the first circuit, Spidertech took control and lead for the whole circuit. It was during these laps that crashes started to happen. First it was Jens Voigt (Leopard Trek), Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad), and Will Dugan (Team Type 1). Then it was Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank-Sungard) and Micheal Matthews (Rabobank). Everyone got up from their crashes and finished the race on their bikes. Into the last lap Saxo Bank-Sungard came to the front for JJ Haedo and with 3km to go, Sky came forward for their sprinter, and yellow jersey wearer, Ben Swift. As Sky, and the peloton, came out of the last corner, Greg Henderson motored away, intending to be the leadout man for Ben Swift. However, Swift had been caught in the field and as Henderson quickly gapped the field, he realized Swift was not coming around him and handily took the win in front of Haedo, Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), and Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo).

Henderson said after the stage that the plan had been to go for Swift, but in the chaos of the run to the line, Swift lost his wheel and when Henderson opened up his lead out, Swift was not there, so he went for the line himself.

Henderson’s win put him tied with Swift for first place, time-wise, but has taken over the yellow jersey. With the climbs starting tomorrow, Henderson said Sky holds no illusions about keeping the jersey for another day.

Top 5 Stage finishers

  1. Greg Henderson NZL (Sky)
  2. Juan Jose Haedo ARG (Saxo Bank-Sungard)
  3. Thor Hushovd NOR (Garmin-Cervelo)
  4. Peter Sagan SVK (Liquigas-Cannondale)
  5. Leigh Howard AUS (HTC-Highroad)
Top 5 GC
  1. Henderson
  2. Ben Swift GBR (Sky) at same time
  3. Sagan at 4 sec
  4. Haedo at 4 sec
  5. Hushovd at 6 sec

Photo: AP/Getty Images

Tour of California Stage 2: Race day

The writers over at US Pro Cycling News (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California.

The racing finally got started in California yesterday with a modified, shorted stage to accommodate for the closure of Donner Pass (good thing, too. Would have for the riders to be stranded and have to start eating each other. Teehee.) that ended with three laps around Sacramento. It was a rather boring stage, but it ended with a great sprint, with Ben Swift (Team Sky) taking his 5th win of the season. Here’s Fitzalan’s report from the ground, and Peter’s recap of the stage!

Top 5 finishers/GC

  1. Ben Swift GRB (Sky)
  2. Peter Sagan SVK (Liquigas-Cannondale)
  3. Matt Goss AUS (HTC-Highroad)
  4. Kevin Lacombe CAN (Spidertech)
  5. Juan Jose Heado ARG (Saxo Bank-Sungard)


Photo: Casey B. Gibson/VeloNews

Tour of California Stage 1: Snow day

The writer’s over at US Pro Cycling News (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California.

Unfortunately, the first day the Tour of California was cancelled due to crappy road conditions near Lake Tahoe and over a portion of the roads they were supposed to race. However, Fitzalan Gorman is in California now, and gave an eyewitness account to all the weather issues going on. She will be in Cali for the next few days and will be writing reports about her adventures there.

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