By Jim Freiberg. Photos, John E. Chico. Editor Jen Benepe. All rights reserved.
The first two days of America’s greatest bike race practically roasted the riders, and the crowds that came to watch them too.
Checking every thermometer in the area on Sunday, the temperature on the first day of the Amgen Tour of California was well past 95 by noon, later peaking at 107.
On day 2, Monday, published reports put the temps as high as 114, but it felt like 120.
Perhaps it was the temperatures on the first two days or there weren’t enough mad dogs and Englishmen willing to come out in the noon-day sun, but it appeared to me that the crowds were smaller than normal.
According to one local organizer, race officials said that they had expected 30,000 people for the first sprint of the eight-day tour, but maybe, maybe 3,000 people lined Main Street in Ramona where riders came to the end of stage one.
Did anyone think running the stage on Mother’s Day was a good idea?
A factor in the light turnout for the Stage Two finish might have been attributed to parking angst.
There was no public parking on the top of Mount Baldy, a mountain finish, and in addition to spectators, almost all VIPs and volunteers, and media were directed onto shuttle buses at the base of the mountain.
Unlike East Coast residents–and Europeans– who are accustomed to using mass transit, Californians are reluctant to get out of their cars, so many may have passed on the idea of sharing a ride to see the summit finish.
Fact was, those taking the air conditioned shuttles were far cooler than hikers and bikers attempting to climb the 1,880 feet from the base of the hill to the base of the famous Palm Springs Tram.
Race Brings Top Pros from U.S., Europe, South America
In spite of these impediments, the eighth annual ATOC has brought scores of top professionals to California for a race that will continue through Saturday.
Only such a young event could have an overwhelming number of top international racers but only one previous Tour of California winner (2010), Michael “Mick” Rogers who is a three-time world Time Trial champion racing on the Danish Saxo-Tinkoff team.
After Armstrong’s confession to Oprah, Jens Voigt, 41, from Germany and only one day older than Armstrong is here as the senior ambassador for cycling.
In January Voight supported Lance’s confession and said, “I think he feels that his life has changed now. For me it is important that he has made a clean sweep.”
But he also said that younger riders need to be able to ride without the ghost of drugs dogging them: “I hope we can move forward now,” he said in an interview with Sporten DK.
Voigt is a five-time winner of the Criterium International, several Tour de France stages, first in the 2008 Tour de Pologne, and second in the 2007 Tour of California.
This year Voigt is racing on the same team as Andy Schleck, 27, on the Luxembourg-based RadioShack – Leopard – Trek team.
The younger Schleck (of two brothers, the other is Frank,) was the overall winner of the 2010 Tour de France, being awarded it retroactively in February 2012 after Alberto Contador‘s hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel who is a specialist at breaking away, is here racing for Omega Pharma – Quick Step.
Garmin – Sharp – Barracuda’s team features three more of cycling’s superstars, two Americans among the very few pros to win stages at each of the three Grand Tours; Italy, Spain, and the Tour de France.
Those are Tyler Farrar and Dave Zabriskie . Zabriskie has not only won stages, but holds the record for the fastest Tour de France Time Trial (against the clock) ever.
It’s “DZ” who is the four-time runner-up at the Amgen Tour of California.
The powerful Garmin squad also includes Belgian pro, Johan van Summeren, the 2011 winner of the world’s toughest one-day race, Paris-Roubaix; as well as two Aussies and two more American pros.
They’ve received the California tour’s “best team” prize three times; as well earning those honors at the Tour de France, and the Giro d’Italia!
The Action on Sunday, May 12—Mother’s Day
It is perhaps ironic that the team sponsored by Vacansoleil, (and DCM) loosely meaning ‘sunny vacations,’ would get the week’s first victory.
It wasn’t the two men from the team considered the favorites, designated team leader Thomas De Gendt, who has won stages at Paris-Nice, the 2011 Tour de Suisse, and the 2012 Giro d’Italia, nor the more experienced Juan Antonio Flecha.
Instead, it was their Netherland’s teammate Lieuwe Westra who won Sunday’s suffer fest, finishing just ahead of Spain’s Francisco Mancebo (5-Hour Energy) and Slovakian superstar Peter Sagan (Cannondale).
“It was a good surprise,” Westra said of the win. As for what that will mean for his team for the rest of the race, “We won a stage, and we have a strong team. We will see.”
Bissell Pro Cycling’s Carter Jones (Boulder, Colo.) claimed the first Nissan King of the Mountain Jersey on Sunday. “The heat was brutal. Definitely the hardest part of the day. We haven’t done anything like this all year,” said Jones.
The Belgian team was one of the first to lose a rider due to heat exhaustion on Sunday after climbing over 11,000 feet.
Also, former Japanese National Champion Fumiyuki Beppu and Michael Hepburn of Australia, struggled across the line Sunday, over the time limit, meaning two lost riders for the Australian Orica-Greenedge team.
The 2013 Amgen Tour of California will run south to north for the first time, covering nearly 750 miles of California’s highways, roadways and coastlines over eight days, concluding in Santa Rosa, Calif., May 19.
With one of the most difficult courses yet ahead of them, the 123 elite cyclists (the race began with 127, with four eliminated due to time cuts ton Sunday) will compete through 12 Host Cities and 60,000 feet of climbing, a record for the race, including a first-time summit finish at Mt. Diablo in the Bay Area.
2013 AmgenTour of California Stage 1 Results
|15.||81||AHO19840215||DE MAAR, Marc||UHC||04:31:39||00:00:06|
|17.||31||USA19880812||VAN GARDEREN, Tejay||BMC||04:31:39||00:00:06|
|20.||103||ESP19890506||DE LA CRUZ, David||TNE||04:31:39||00:00:06|
|35.||73||ESP19770917||FLECHA, Juan Antonio||VCD||04:31:39||00:00:06|
|51.||16||AUS19920102||MORTON, Lachlan David||GRS||04:31:39||00:00:06|
|57.||137||CUB19790407||ROMERO AMARAN, Luis||JSH||04:40:44||00:09:11|
|62.||106||POR19850424||PIMENTA, Jose Joao||TNE||04:41:51||00:10:18|
|64.||55||ARG19830418||HAEDO, Lucas Sebastian||CAN||04:41:51||00:10:18|
|65.||22||BEL19820527||DE WEERT, Kevin||OPQ||04:41:51||00:10:18|
|72.||98||HKG19840605||WU, Kin San||CSS||04:41:51||00:10:18|
|90.||26||BEL19910214||VAN KEIRSBULCK, Guillaume||OPQ||04:42:17||00:10:44|
|91.||54||ITA19810408||DA DALTO, Mauro||CAN||04:42:17||00:10:44|
|93.||64||DEN19860420||JORGENSEN, Jonas Aaen||TST||04:42:17||00:10:44|
|95.||77||NED19880118||VAN POPPEL, Boy||VCD||04:42:17||00:10:44|
|98.||94||TPE19881102||FENG, Chun Kai||CSS||04:42:17||00:10:44|
|104.||71||BEL19861106||DE GENDT, Thomas||VCD||04:50:13||00:18:40|
|113.||84||SLO19840901||ILESIC, Aldo Ino||UHC||04:51:23||00:19:50|
|114.||133||ARG19810126||HAEDO, Juan José||JSH||04:51:23||00:19:50|
|115.||136||ARG19870109||PALMA, Guido Emanuel||JSH||04:51:23||00:19:50|
|122.||18||BEL19810204||VAN SUMMEREN, Johan||GRS||04:51:23||00:19:50|
|902.||45||AUS19910817||HEPBURN, Michael||OGE||05:08:32||Time Limit|
|902.||42||JPN19830410||BEPPU, Fumiyuki||OGE||05:08:32||Time Limit|
|902.||155||USA19870331||SHELDON, Taylor||5HR||05:08:32||Time Limit|
|905.||27||BEL19840425||VANDENBERGH, Stijn||OPQ||Did Not Finish|