At the end of the day, as cycling fans, we appreciate the savage power of the Blue Train (Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team) that toppled San Marcos Pass six members strong to lead the effort for George Hincapie down the stretch toward the Santa Barbara boardwalk finish line. George catapulted off a strong lead-out at 300 meters to finish the deal and win his second stage of the Amgen Tour of California and rip the Sprinters Jersey (again) off the back of JJ Haedo (Toyota-United).
What we don’t see as cycling fans is what drives the pro teams behind-the-scenes.
Stage 5 showcased the strawberry fields through the agricultural epicenter of California.
The peloton had a blistering 30 mph start through the working fields that comprise the agricultural epicenter of California, home to some of the hardest workers in the State save the cycling team support crews. Strawberry fields seemed to go on forever with teams of workers planting and picking the crops that fill the local farmer’s markets as the peloton flew through. Similarly, each cycling team has a hard working support staff that orchestrates all the daily details for their 8-man squads.
Every team rushes to the feed zone to hand up the musettes to their team’s domistiques.
Sonja Jiminez is one of the soigneur’s for the Jelly Belly Pro Cycling Team, a position shes enjoyed for 8 years. Day in and day out Jiminez is up before her team preparing for the day, then hustling to the feed zone to refuel her team, then speeding to the finish line to direct her team to the hotel for massage and meals before staying up late to organize everything all over again for the next day.
During the race David Kohli from Phonak is already prepping Stage 6 bikes by running cables.
Before Floyd Landis arrived in Santa Barbara today to retain his overall race leader position, David Kohli, the Phonak Pro Cycling Team mechanic, was already in the parking lot at race headquarters running new cables through a Phonak team bike for tomorrow’s stage.
Floyd has good reason to smile during the post-race press conference.
Landis is escorted through a myriad of post-race commitments by race officials while his support team is grabbing bikes from teammates, rushing them back to the team truck for daily maintenance. Kohli gets the water hose out and sprays down the bikes and the team car while Floyd is answering questions at the press conference. As Floyd gives justified accolades to his team for their performance in front of the peloton today, the soigneurs are busy massaging the rest of his teammates, getting rid of the lactic acid in their system to be fresh tomorrow.
George Hincapie scored his second stage win of the Tour.
The big difference between the field workers and the cycling support teams is passion, of course. To follow and work for a professional cycling team is nothing short of a labor of love. Both teams, in the fields and for the cyclists, work darn hard.
Whether it’s JJ Haedo, George Hincapie or Floyd Landis and each of their powerful teams, none of it would be possible without a cast of characters that rarely receive the credit they deserve.
Results Tour of California Stage 5
1 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel 3.52.02
2 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner
3 Christopher Horner (USA) Davitamon-Lotto
4 Josep Jufre Pou (Spa) Davitamon-Lotto
5 Riccardo Ricco (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir
6 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner
7 Hayden Roulston (NZl) Health Net p/b Maxxis
8 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Navigators Insurance
9 Scott Davis (Aus) T-Mobile Team
10 Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Kodakgallery.Com-Sierra Nevada
GC After Stage 5
1 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems 16.29.40
2 David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC 0.29
3 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC 0.34
4 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel 0.45
5 Nathan O’Neill (Aus) Health Net p/b Maxxis 1.08
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 1.10
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 1.29
8 Thomas Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 1.49
9 Christian Vandevelde (USA) Team CSC 1.55
10 Jason McCartney (USA) Discovery Channel 1.58