24 May 2011

2011 Amgen Tour of California - Stage 8 Finish

Maybe I should pedal backwards 
Where do I begin after a super fun "slightly over-scheduled week," as my sister-in-law kindly described my constant motion as a fan at the ATOC last week. Every evening the logistical decisions were made, every day the scramble would begin, every evening the satisfaction would settle in. Being a fan at the Amgen Tour of California is a combination of slightly unknown directions, lots of surprises, funny moments, excitement, and a growing familiarity. 
When I see a Grand Tour or a stage race day after day, I begin to recognize people as if they were customers frequenting the same local coffee shop every day. Not only the riders, but the directeur sportifs, the mechanics, the crew, the officials, the cameramen, and even the fans that chase the race just like me. 
You'll see families out for the day, school kids who have skipped school, bike clubs, local racers, people on cruiser bikes, characters in crazy costumes, couples, groups of friends, people who have never seen a bike race before, and individuals like me that come solo because we like it that much. Whether for a day or a week, being at the race in person is a pleasurable mix of exhaustion and delight. It is totally worth the journey!
I think I will begin with the Finish. 
Sunday the 2011 Amgen Tour of California wrapped up in Thousand Oaks, CA, home to the biotechnology company Amgen, the primary sponsor of the race since it's inception in 2005. Every year the race has grown. Although I perceived there to be less people in Solvang this year than in 2009, Thousand Oaks made up for it with huge crowds. It was difficult to walk up and down the sidewalks, with limited ability to freely move around the course or area. The Lifestyle Village stretched for blocks, and the commercial aspect of the event was raging. It was big and crowded, and I hope worth all of the sponsors time and money. The fans appeared to be enjoying it very much.
Now it is picture time again. 
This time pictures from Stage 8, the final stage. My day began in the modern bedroom-community of Santa Clarita in a parking lot, and ended in Thousand Oaks where I stood along the barrier at the spot where the sprint started before the finish line. There was lots of Chris Horner time at Stage 8, he put as much effort into his PR as he did racing. I of course, preferred the stage start, but I tend to enjoy being at the Start Villages, or on the actual route, on race day. The Finish Villages are more about atmosphere. 
This year the race organizers planned a Tour route which allowed fans (in cars) to be at both the Start and the Finish on most (long) days. They also arranged multiple laps by the riders at the start or finish, which was thrilling to watch as a fan. I took advantage of the opportunity to see the start and finish on the same day since it can be less common at the Tour de France, and won't be possible at the new USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado this coming August 2011.

The End
STAGE FINISH in Thousand Oaks - pictures of Stage 8 Amgen Tour of California
At the Lifestyle Festival at the Finish area in Thousand Oaks waiting for the racers ...
The city is named after the numerous old oak trees
For anyone wondering, this is what Spider Tech is: pre-packaged kenisiology tape
Um, Barry Bonds was a fan at the race for the day (really).
Barry Bonds at ATOC, Photo by PedalDancer.com
And then they came. How the race went down ...
Chris Horner in the Gold Leader's Jersey (below)
Grischa Niermann, Oscar Freire
Heads down on the final Sprint

Who won? - Stage 8 results
1  Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad) 
2  Peter Sagan (Liquigas)
3  Greg Henderson (Sky)
And then the rest came rolling by ...
Maarten Tjallingii
George Hincapie on Andy Schleck's wheel
Svein Tuft, Canadian National Road Champion
Laurens Ten Dam
Coen Vermeltfoor
There were a LOT of people around the Radio Shack team bus (and many more behind me!)
It is important to keep looking around or someone like Matt Goss - the actual WINNER of Stage 8!! will slip right behind you when you are busy looking for Chris Horner (quick look behind you) ...
Pat McCarty (Spider Tech) - winner of the Mountains Jersey with a Police escort
Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo) third place GC
This was pretty much Chris Horner's life day after day at the Tour of California (we even heard him say "walk with me" and kept moving, as fan after fan came up to him for photos).
I will miss seeing these cars out on the highways of California (the Jelly Belly car, not the Highway Patrol car!)
George Hincapie and Taylor Phinney came out to say Hi to the fans after the race, (I really wanted to ask Taylor for one of those recovery Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars! All this time everyone was worried about what is in the refrigerators - it is just ice cream people).

Next, the beginning of the end, the start of Stage 8  

all Photos by PedalDancer.com

1  3 HORNER Christopher 00" RSH USA 23h46'41" USA19711023 
2  1 LEIPHEIMER Levi 38" RSH USA 23h47'19" USA19731024 
3  12 DANIELSON Tom 02'45" GRM USA 23h49'26" USA19780313 
4  18 VANDEVELDE Christian 03'18" GRM USA 23h49'59" USA19760522 
5  21 VAN GARDEREN Tejay 03'23" THR USA 23h50'04" USA19880812 
6  87 TEN DAM Laurens 03'26" RAB NED 23h50'07" NED19801113 
7  91 SUTHERLAND Rory 04'12" UHC AUS 23h50'53" AUS19820208 
8  51 SCHLECK Andy 04'33" LEO LUX 23h51'14" LUX19850610 
9  46 MORABITO Steve 04'50" BMC SUI 23h51'31" SUI19830130
10  13 HESJEDAL Ryder 06'16" GRM CAN 23h52'57" CAN19801209 

A full list of results at:  Final General Classificationamgentourofcalifornia

Mountains  Pat McCarty (United States) (SpiderTech-C10)
Youth  Tejay van Garderen (United States) (HTC-Highroad)
Sprints  Peter Sagan (Slovakia) (Liquigas-Cannondale)

Team Garmin-Cervélo