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Most aggro dude: GQ George Hincapie. He spent more time off the front and in more stages than anybody else. He went long on the climbs; he went long on the flats and even had enough gas left in the tank to go long on the final day as well.

 

Little Engine that Could Team: BMC Racing is one of the young up and coming teams looking for some love in the peloton. First with Jackson Stewart on Stage 1, then Scott Nydam on Stage 2, then with Taylor Tolleson on Stage 7, these boys showed that they came to play.

 

Hard Luck Kid: Health Net Maxxis' Roman Kilun was in that huge breakaway on the abysmal Highway 1 day and must have had jello for legs for the next day's time trial. Unfortunately, he flatted at the most inopportune moment on the course and could not get a new wheel for almost 2 miles. He missed the day's

time cut by only a minute and was out of the race. Sometimes lady luck just doesn't have a heart.

 

Not so Lantern Rouge: Michael Creed is the consummate journeyman pro, having spent time on all the major U.S. pro squads. Now on Rock Racing, he was having difficulty finding his form all week long which found him languishing at the bottom of the standings (the venerable lantern rouge). But Creed found some legs on the last day, initiated the major breakaway and even tried to launch himself over the massive Mill Creak Summit first.

 

Mr. Belgian: yes, there are real Belgians like Tom Boonen at the race. However, Australian, Henk Vogels, on the Toyota United team looks and acts (that's supposed to be a compliment) like the prototypical Belgian Hardman. Always ready for battle and seemingly with an endless ear-to-ear grin, I don't think the rain affected Henk one bit.

 

Classiest Rider: hey, all the guys who rode the AToC are classy, but one guy seemed to stand out. Paolo Bettini just knows how to look good on and off the bike and his engaging smile just seems to say, "bike racing is cool." I hope Il Grillo can win the final stage.

 

Bogus Move: the officials for DQing Mark Cavendish's stage win in Santa Clarita. Cavendish's move to use the team cars to pace him back into the pack after a late-race crash is something commonly done in Europe, but for some reason, not appreciated here in the U.S. Cavendish was just doing what any good sprinter would have done and he should have been given the win.

 

Best Ride of the race: Levi was expected to do well in the TT, as was David Millar, but Christian Vandevelde's third place was a very pleasant surprise. This will be Christian's third straight top-10 finish overall in this race

and his first time on the podium. Honorable mention to Levi for thoroughly schooling the field and holding onto the jersey.

 

Best Finish: Dominique Rollin in San Luis Obispo. It was sooooo bad out there for so long that everyone wanted the riders to bring it home and get warm. Nice to see one of the U.S. pro teams win one from the Pro Tour boys.

 

Crowd Favorite: Super Mario Cipollini. He's told me several times that this is his second career on the bike so it's like playing with the house's money, but that hasn't kept him from dicing it up at the finish. This man has rock star persona written all over him and the crowds mob him to prove it.

 

Peloton Heartthrob: Tom Boonen is one of the most recognizable faces in the pro peloton and for good reason. The heir apparent to Super Mario, Tom also has that rock star aura that whips his fans into a frenzy.

 

Hardest Working Man on Two Wheels: Che Chu Rubiera was on the front for Team Astana virtually the entire race. And he was on the front when it mattered most: over Mount Hamilton and Sierra Road. This guy does his job like no other and always has a smile and kind word while doing it.

 

Well, that's it for now. If you have some of your own awards to hand out, feel free to post up.

 

Bruce

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