30 May 2010

Pictures from 2010 Tour of California, Part Trois

Stage 8 Tour of California, Final stage in Westlake Village, CA

We had received VIP passes to stage 8 of the Tour of California, thanks to Dr Kaplan, a friend of my Dad's who has contributed greatly to my nephew's triathlon career by providing his time trial bike, his road bike, and arranging time with swim coaches. On this day, Dr Kaplan was giving Kenny two free passes to the Rabobank VIP tent in Westlake Village for the final stage of the 2010 Tour of California, and he invited me, his Aunt to go with him. We were both so excited, we were legitimately going to have a VIP experience (as opposed to jumping the barriers as we usually do), and it would be free!

Kenny decided to start the morning by riding his bike from the back side of Camarillo where my parents live to Westlake Village, CA over Protrero Rd to the Finish Village. He took off ....
He arrived 1hr 20 mins later into Westlake, and quickly decided to ride to the Start area. I walked around the Finish area before we picked up our VIP passes with excitement. The first sign that this would be an excellent day was the perfect weather, the second sign was the layout of Westlake. The folks of Westlake Village did an excellent job in planning for the Tour to visit their small town. This day was meant for the spectators. Our previous day in Los Angeles was not at all meant for spectators, it was designed primarily for rider safety, and then for VIP access. VIP access frustratingly limited the movement of the fans at Stage 7 in Los Angeles. That was not true about Stage 8 in Westlake Village. Everyone had fun.
Our VIP experience was fantastic however. Free food, open bar, enthusiastic friendly fans, shade, yummy cheesecake, and live TV and Tour Tracker. Kenny was surprised to find a fellow Berkeley Triathlete friend Sebastian at the race. I think together these two ate 20 tacos.
A tale of our day at Stage 8 of the ATOC:

We were located at the Finish line area.
Because the Final Stage 8 was a circuit race, we had plenty of time in between to eat, drink, meet people and walk around. We saw this actor guy walk by (Patrick Dempsey)...
We cheered as the riders took their second lap
Fabian Cancellara came by
We walked down to the feed zone ...  we saw Mark Renshaw ride up. He casually stood by watching the race, non of the spectators bothered him. I was happy with these two to my right.
and Kenny to my left.
This was the relaxed feeling of the day, Mark Renshaw and Mark Cavendish (who had ridden the course earlier in the morning) hung around nearby talking with friends and fans as the race was going on in the street in front of us. The thing about California, is no one realizes who these riders are. I think the riders especially enjoy California because the weather is good, the hotels are fine, the transfers aren't too long, and the fans are not claustrophobic.
The break on the 3rd lap ...
In our shaded VIP tent we watched the attacks on the final lap Live on TV.
We ran to the barriers to see the final sprint across the finish line (Kenny is standing behind Hennie Kuiper who also happened to be in our Rabobank VIP tent area, and is also sitting in front of Kenny in the photo above).
We watched as Ryder Hesjedal took the win of Stage 8.
We cheered for Andy Schleck coming across the line.
After the race, the riders who needed to collect their awards at the stage area, rode or walked by ... Peter Sagan (sprint jersey winner) passed by.
This is where the story really gets good. Kenny and I entered onto the road at our VIP area, and walked inside the barriers, down to the VIP area. We stood directly behind the camera men.
We stood and watched the awards. We were so close we had to step back repeatedly every time they opened the champagne. These are my favorite shots and favorite memories of the day. This is the fun part of pro cycling, the celebration at the end of eight days of racing.
and then they went home ...
What a great day at the Tour of California!