There are always more stories surrounding a bike race than just the stuff making he headlines. Here are some stories and accompanying photos.
Usually, each rider has his name on his bike so the mecahnics can tel them apart. For the Amgen Tour of California (AToC) the riders on Team Radio Shack have the name of a cancer survivor on their bikes. Here is a photo of the bike of three-time defending champion Levi Leipheimer. He is riding for Nate Wagner, a 3-year old cancer survivor from Santa Rosa. Nate has a lot of energy, unfortunately he prefers golf to riding bikes.
Several of the members of Team Bissell are having a goatee growing contest during the race. While the judging of such a contest is highly subjective, the consensus is Ben Jacques-Maynes (pictured below) is the early leader.
Paul Mach is a PhD candidate in Mathematics at University of California-Davis. He is a former All American 800m runner who switched to the bike about five years ago. He is also participating in the Bissell goatee contest. He is pictured here wearing the King of the Mountains jersey which he won on Stage 1.
Even though it was raining fairly hard for Stage 2, that didn't dampen the spirit of the fans in Levi Leipheimer's home town of Santa Rosa.
Stage 3 took the riders from San Francisco to Santa Cruz also known as Surf City, USA.
A few weeks ago I reported about what I felt was an unusually high number of serious crashes in the both the European and domestic pro pelotons. I have been in touch with a number of the crashees and just wanted to pass along some info on what some of the riders are up to.
Jelly Belly's Bernard Van Ulden, who broke his collarbone on stage 6 of the Tour of California(ToC) is back on the bike and recently placed third overall at the prestigious Joe Martin stage race in Arkansas.
Vladimir Gusev of Team Astana who also crashed on stage 6 of the ToC is currently racing the Giro d'Italia where he is riding in support of race leader Alberto Contador and is in 51st place overall.
Bissel Professional Cycling Team rider Tom Zirbel who went down on the final stage of the Tour of Gila while wearing the race leader's jersey is back on the bike and is scheduled to return to the fight at the Nature Valley Grand Prix in mid-June.
Tim Duggan of Slipstream/Chipotle crashed hard in stage 3 of the Tour of Georgia and suffered a serious head injury. Unfortunately, while Tim is on the road to recovery he will most likely miss the rest of the season to allow his head injuries to fully heal.
Dave Zabriskie who, after helping his Slipstream/Chipotle teammate Christian Vandevelde take the pink jersey by providing horsepower in the opening team time trial, crashed out on stage 2 and broke his L1 vertebrae. Dave is back in the states recuperating, but his participation in both the Tour de France and Beijing Olympics is in uncertain. On the bright side his wife, Randi, is about to give birth to the couple's first child so if Dave is sidelined he will be able to be present at a very important time in his family's life.
Brad McGee of Team CSC is back home in Monaco after crashing out of the Giro on stage 3 and breaking his collarbone. Brad had an operation to fix the break and is back training on the bike. The multiple Olympic medalist is still on track, so to speak, to represent Australia in the pursuit and team pursuit in Beijing.
Unfortunately, Fausto Munoz, the Mexican Team Tecos rider who was paralyzed from the waist down after crashing in the final stage of the Tour of Gila will most likely not recover. Props to the Toyota United Team for donating their prize money to help pay Munoz's hospital bills. Also, props to Beverly Harper of the Webcor Builder's womens team for donating her prize money and all the other riders who did the same.
Here's a get well soon to all those who have gone down.