The first road stage of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California(AToC) is underway and it is pretty clear that Mother Nature is the #137 rider in the peloton. Leaden skies poured buckets of rain on the racers and spectators as they rolled out of Davis for a 107-mile test on their way to Santa Rosa. The conditions rivaled the now legendary stage to San Luis Obispo. Rain is almost acceptable; cold is tolerable, but cold, rain is just not all that much fun. All whining aside, these guys are pros and darn good ones so they all "manned up" and headed out. Here are some photos from the mornings festivities, so to speak.
Here is a shot of the boys rolling out. Race leader Fabian Cancellara is in the middle with the the orange Oakley Radar frames. On the far right is Saxobank's Stuart O'Grady. In the Liquigas green is Ivan Basso. Jens Voigt is leading the pack and on Jen's right(photo left) is Chris Horner and Tyler Hamilton. The gold helmet just over Horner's right shoulder belongs to Lance Armstrong. If they look like they are having fun to you, you must be wearing the racing equivilent of 'beer googles.'
Have you ever wondered how those great TV pictures come to you everyday on Versus TV? Here's the reason why. Greg Peterson has been doing live TV camera work since the Coors Classic, Tour DuPont and now Tour of California. On a rainy, cold day like today it's tough work for Greg. He lamented that, even if the pictures can't be beamed up to the airplane which transfers the signal to the TV trucks, he still has to shoot. So, some of his most difficult work never gets seen.
The money man behind the Garmnin-Slipstream team is Doug Ells. Not only has he been a major reason why Jonathan Vaughter's squad has quickly risen to the ProTour ranks. Doug is also a passionate cyclist and was planning to ride the entire Stage 1, but the weather forced a change in plans.
With the economic downturn the team sponsored by Rock and Republic jeans, Rock Racing, was rumoured to be disbanding. Here is a message from the side of the team bus for all the Rock Racing fans and doubters.
And just to put an exclamation point on the message team member Francisco Mancebo has been off the front since the beginning of the stage.
If you are a reader of European and US cycling magazines, you have undoubtedly seen photos by Cor Vos. He no longer rides on a photo-moto, but here he is enjoying some fine Norther European weather.
AtoC Race Director, Jim Birrell, appropriately retired, but wondering when the sun will finally start to poke through.