Saturday, February 14, 2009

Amgen Tour of California Prologue

The first day of the Tour of California was blessed. It rained for several days leading up to the race and rain and winds were predicted today. But by noon, the threatening clouds parted and blue sky and the sun appeared. It was cool and breezy and the conditions were good for a great day of bike racing. The crowds were enormous and jazzed! Predictions of 75,000 to 100,000 were probably achieved. Downtown Sac was rockin'!!

I positioned myself at the first 180 degree turn at the corner of 4th St. and Capitol Mall, a prime spot as evidenced by a bevy of professional photographers, including Graham Watson, who were positioned here.

Looking down the Mall toward the start house was the gleaming white State Capitol Building and behind me was the golden steel trusses of the Tower Bridge. The racers had to slow down to make the 180 degree turn so this was the perfect spot to see the racers go by fairly slowly instead of a blurr.

Capitol Mall was transformed into the Champs-Ellysees with cycle-crazy fans standing 3-10 deep. This was a testament to the growing popularity of America's premier road race and the quality of this years field. The world's big guns were here and they put on a grand show!

For one short day in February, I felt like I was standing in Paris. . .

Note: To view enlarged photo, click on pic

The giant yellow jersey playing tourist at the State Capitol

TV's A-Team was also here. Phil Leggett (middle) and Paul Sherwin (right)

Where's Bobke?!!

When the chopper flies over it means the race is ready to start

Chick fan #1

Racers warming up and riding toward the Tower Bridge

Chick fan #2

Warm up time

Motorcycle parade . . . getting close to start time

Chick fan #3

More riders warming up

Chick fan #4

Time trail begins with motorcycle leading the rider and support vehicle behind.
Click on pic for enlarged view

Chick fan #5

World -class cycling photographer -- Graham Watson

Graham's equipment - he's a Nikon man

Carlos Alcala, (R) Bee reporter hiding behind Graham

Tom Boonen sequence (next 2 pics)

George Hincapie (next pic)

Go George!!

Tyler Hamilton (above and below)

Lance sequence (next 3 pics)

Fans going nutso!!

Christain Vandevelde (above and below)

Fabian Cancellara (winner of todays' Prologue)

Floyd Landis sequence (next 3 pics)

Levi Liepheimer (above and next 2 pics), defending champ came in 2nd today

The Pink Doggies - Yvonne and Larry

Gilbert, recovering from a neck injury

Eric, dwarfed by Levi