Tour of California, Stage Two: A Hot Time on the Slopes...
So, you have already likely read that it was hot in the desert today; my computer read 110º F, and that I am sure, more than anything contributed to the devastation those of us standing at the roadside, witnessed on Tramway at the end of Stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California. By this point in the day the peloton had exploded. There were two groups of about twenty riders each - the lead group and one further back being led by Radioshack. Everyone else came up the road in small groups. Or alone. Did I mention it was hot? It was hot enough that racers shoved ice packs down their jerseys during the day in an attempt to keep cool, it was so hot most racers were unable to collapse in wrecked heaps upon the frying pan pavement once they crossed the line, when they came back down that final hill to where the team buses awaited they made beelines and quickly disappeared inside. I couldn't see into those dark, air-conditioned depths, but imagine bodies were splayed about everywhere, trying to lower their temperatures. Except Jens Voigt, that is. He noticed someone among the bystanders, turned around, and had a talk. What's a little heat amongst friends, after all?
Three of the riders I picked to figure prominently during the race did so today - Javier Acevedo, Tejay van Garderen, and Philip Deignan - in first, second, and third spots respectively at the top end of the climb. While those in the front group were racing to the end, most everyone else coming up the road were clearly in survival mode, begging their legs to continue turning the cranks for another 4.5 km. I had the impression riders were trying to conserve as much as they could given the circumstances. I didn't notice the grim reaper anywhere in sight, but even the bus was pretty grim. All except Matt Brammeier that is; the Irish National Road Champion, racing for Champion Systems, casually inquired as to whether I had managed any good photos. Heat waves rising off the asphalt were playing havoc with my camera, distorting most of the images I took looking down the road, and the best ones seem to be those I took as the racers got right up next to me, so I got a few, Mr. B, I got a few.
not the race yet. i use this photo to show the rise of the road
the lead group from which Janier Acevedo
would emerge victorious and earn the Yellow Jersey
Francisco Mancebo snuck past before i knew it
World Champion, Philippe Gilbert in the company
of the morning's Yellow Jersey wearer, Lieuwe Westra
Andy Schleck looked comfortable
Juan Antonio Flecha
James Stemper in the White Jersey
Jens Voigt at the head of the next large group
Peter Sagan was surrounded by teammates
hot and tired, but Tom Zirbel can still give a thumbs up
Irish National Champion, Matt Brammeier
A selection of, I think, 80 photos from the climb to the finish can be found here.