ToCA’07 St. 1: Brownie Out Of The Carnage
Mega carnage, mega controversy. 50 guys go down in a heap in the closing miles…but Levi Leipheimer retains the lead. The furious finish can’t dull an otherwise bright NorCal day, as the riders wind their way up the California coast from Sausalito to Santa Rosa.
What happens when a third of the field in a race is taken out in a closing-laps crash? Stage One of the Tour of California saw dozens of riders hit the pavement when one of the T-Mobile leaders hit a “Bott’s Dot” in the middle of the street in Santa Rosa on the second of three laps around the town center. The judges ruled that everyone in the crash should get the same time as winner Graeme Brown of the Rabobank squad.
But the big story…Leipheimer, the hometown boy, is the real winner of this hometown call. In spite of wiping out in the big brouhaha, this Santa Rosa resident is still the leader after two days of the Tour of California. Some of the Europeans are crying foul!…but the race is in the books, and the ruling stands.
It was a calm start to a controversial day. Early this morning, cyclists gathered at Cafй Trieste in Sausalito, the traditional hangout for Bay Area roadies.
Here’s a bit of advice…always try to hang with the Italians when you watch a bike race…they know the best places for morning espresso, witty banter and big-time bike talk. Today at Caffй Trieste, it was an interesting mix of locals and foreigners, with one thing on their minds…race day in Sausalito.
Big George Hincapie is sporting the stars and stripes of the US road champ as part of his special Discovery Team kit. The Disco team orders are starting to become more and more clear, as Hincapie, Ivan Basso and Tom Danielson are all riding to support Leipheimer.
Before the Stage One start, Predictor-Lotto’s Chris Horner talked to Pez about how he thought the race would unfold. His predictions were all correct, but he hadn’t counted on a mass-crash in the closing laps. “All in all, unless one of the teams is really ready to drive it into the finishing circuit, it’s gonna come together as a field sprint. But they’re gonna have to drive it all the way up the climbs and all the way to the finish.” Chris and the boys tried to drive Fast Freddie Rodriguez to the stage win, but Fred ended up fifth today.
“Vive il sogno”…that’s Italian for “Live the dream.” Slipstream’s Steven Cozza is living his dream this week. He was born and raised in this area, and after graduating to a series of races in Europe, Cozza is back in the states racing on the same roads that he’s trained on for years and years. Only this time, his partners are guys like Bettini and Basso. Hmmm…I wonder if Steven waved his arm tattoo at the Italians today?
Wouldn’t you want to be a fly on the wall for this conversation between world champ Paolo Bettini and T-Mobile leader Michael Rogers? Chances are that they’re not discussing the weather or where they’re going for dinner tonight…you can bet that the Euro teams are working on strategies to counter the moves of the American boys on their home turf.
We recognize the face, but where is the mullet? After years of domestique duty for the Disco/Postal boys, Viatcheslav Ekimov is off the bike and in the driver’s seat this year, piloting the team wagon and learning on-course tactics from master strategist Johan Bruyneel.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better start city, or better fans, or more perfect weather than what we had today in Sausalito. The crowds are even bigger than last year’s inaugural TofC, and the race officials did had their own way of saying thanks.
The Discovery boys did a fair share pacesetting today, as the course wound it’s way up the California coast. Ivan Basso admitted that he’s using this race to help him round into shape for an assault on the Tour de France in July. So today, Basso was content to play the role of dutiful teammate, knowing that his work this week will be repaid when the team crosses the Atlantic in the summer.
Here’s a look at one of the real stars of cycling. No, not the Navigators rider, or the girl with the whip. Check out the guy between ’em. That’s legendary sports photographer Cor Vos. He’s here this week to capture his world-class images of this world-class field. We thought you’d like to see the man behind the lens of many of the great photos that we’ve posted on Pez over the years.
Look for more great coverage from the entire PEZ team all week. Up next…Santa Rosa to Sacramento for Stage Two of the ’07 TofC.
The Stage 1 podium: Brownie with the win, Henderson in 2nd, and Allan Davis in 3rd for Discovery.
Oops moment of the day: Immediately following the race, Greg Henderson thought he had the win…in fact he was convinced…and then he found out otherwise.
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