Overheard this same conversation twice today:
"Man, seeing the group go by is amazing. All the colors...the fluidity...they're so close and moving so fast!"
"Yeah. Do you know if they go by more than once?"
"I think they come by three or four times."
"Good. I was hoping I wasn't going to stand here all this time just to see them once!"
In both Sausalito (today's Stage 1 start) and Santa Rosa (the finish), the riders did a few circuits around a short course within the city limits. From what I've heard, the French handle the waiting with wine and cheese. The start featured a neutral start, where the riders just kind of warm up the legs and show off for the crowd:
Paolo Bettini brought up the rear, though when you're a world champ, the pack will wait (or you'll catch up...either one):
Sausalito was a beautiful little town, a mix of seaside European and New England port. It's the perfect treasure at the end of the drive up from Palo Alto, along Redwood Highway, then over the Golden Gate Bridge. My regret at not being able to follow the riders on their course is alleviated by the thrill of finding my own way in a place I've never explored.
The route into Napa to Santa Rosa bared evidence of how much fun the drive would be when the vineyards were in full bloom.
And so it was again that the peloton put on a show for the crowd, this time proving that they could indeed reel in the breakaway of the day (Jackson Stewart of BMC). They arrived in town en masse:
Three laps around a circuit was exciting enough. Then George Hincapie and Tom Boonen tap wheels less than 300 meters from the finish and Hincapie goes down:
After catching his breath, he got back on his horse and finished, the crowd loving every minute of the American's resolve.
Tomorrow's forecast calls for rain, with a chance of more thrills and spills. Meanwhile, CSC is showing as early favorites. On to the capitol!