stage race on a European scale! Great teams from all over the world,
competing in our own back yard. This is an event not to be missed,
hopefully the first of many. Towards the bottom of this page we have
some details on watching the best part of the race in Northern
California, Wednesday's stage up Sierra Grade out of San Jose!
February 18th-25th, coming to a road near you!
Things got really interesting on Wednesday, as they
encountered the toughest hill in the race, San Jose's infamous Sierra Road.
In the photo you can see Levi (yellow jersey in front) looking like he's got
the situation in hand, Jason McCartney with his tongue hanging out, Chris
Horner behind him (in the Lotto jersey), Jens Voight (who won the stage) on Levi's left, and Robert
Gesink behind him. Another very large crowd at the top of Sierra Road,
despite threatening skies and pretty darned cold temps.
You've seen them on TV,
now see them in-person. European-style racing, with top teams, in
Discovery/TREK (the team formerly known as US
Postal) is sending their "A" team-
1 Ivan Basso (Ita)
2 Antonio Cruz (USA)
3 Tom Danielson (USA)
4 George Hincapie (USA)
5 Levi Leipheimer (USA)
6 Jason McCartney (USA)
7 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu)
8 Brian Vandborg (Den)
the action switches to the open road, with an 80 mile race from
Sausalito to Santa Rosa.
Tuesday sees the riders heading from Santa Rose to a symbolic
finish at the steps of the state capital in Sacramento!
Wednesday will be the gnarliest stage, with an exceptionally-challenging ride
from Stockton to San Jose, including both Patterson Pass and the grueling 3-mile, 10% climb
up Sierra Grade! This is where you want to watch, but you'll have to
ride to get there, as there's no place whatsoever to park a car on
Thursday the race leaves the Bay Area from Seaside on its way
down the coast to San Luis Obispo.
Towards the end of
Stage 2 is where the action is!The map below, showing the KOM
(King of the Mountain) spot on Sierra Road (which I always knew as
"Sierra Grade Road" back when I raced) is the place to be. It's
mean. It's nasty. It's steeeeeeeep. And the only way to get there is
Assume no parking
anywhere near the climb, even at the base (which, according to a
newsgroup posting, might not be the safest place to leave a car
anyway). But no biggie, just do a ride from Newark (which you could
take BART to if you wish) or Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, San Jose...
whatever. CalTrain does allow bikes, so that's a definite option.
Will it be practical to see the race on Sierra Grade and then race
down to watch the finish? In a word, no. Below are the estimated
arrival times at various parts of the course.
They're estimating just
40 minutes between the time the leaders hit the top of Sierra Grade
and finish the race.
Looking at the profile of the finishing stretch, you'll see that
it's all downhill (for the racers) from there,
and they probably won't let you cross Piedmont, which you'll have to
do if you want to get to the finish.
But that's OK; the finish line area is going to be too crowded, and
no way will you get to see the pain & suffering that you'll see on
the big climb.
If you need more convincing of why you want to watch the race on
our website has an article that explains things in a bit more
detail. True, you won't have the "Caravan" like they do in the
Tour de France, nor all the helicopters, but you will see
guys flying up the hill in superhuman fashion, along with others who
look, well, mortal.
After Wednesday's stage they head down the coast towards
Los Angeles. I'd be putting up more information on that section if I
had the time and, frankly, if that was where our two shops were
located. But we're not. We're solidly entrenched in Northern
California. We enjoy Disneyland, we hate the Dodgers (although
nobody ever told me why), and we laugh at the fact that Los Angeles
can't support a Pro Football team. Never mind that, right now,
neither the 49ers nor Raiders qualify in that regard! --Mike--
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