By Luke Ramseth
We rolled out of the SF State dorms at 6 this morning and we were welcomed by some more rain. The race started at 8:30 instead of the customary late morning due to logistics of getting the peleton across the Golden Gate Bridge.
The goal of the day was to get Nate in a team car (preferably Bissell) so that we could get some in-race footage. The Bissell crew said no go they were full, and we got rejected by the Mavic cars and a few other teams. We’re still banking on maybe the time trial in Solvang for that opportunity.
The good news: I was able to get some up close shots of some of the biggest names in cycling at the sign-in. Being an avid cyclist and cycling fan I’m still in awe of seeing so many of the those guys I’ve only read about, and from only feet away. It’s fun to see some of their regular personalities when not racing. Some guys like Chris Horner were busy socializing. Garmin’s Tom Danielson isolated himself at the back and seemed to be visualizing the race ahead.
We left Sausalito and drove back into the city toward Santa Cruz. Damn that $6 toll on the Golden Gate-twice. Luckily though, parking and tolls have been our main expenses. We college kids are trying to keep it cheap.
We knew the decisive climb of the day was going to be Bonny Dune road, just outside Santa Cruz. But we chose to just go straight to the finish line in downtown Santa Cruz instead. Good choice. Santa Cruz is basically Nate’s hometown, and he was fired up (as I was) to see how many people had packed into downtown to see the race. The announcers were comparing it to a Tour de France crowd.
Bonny Dune ended up turning the race upside down. Levi surprised everybody by just riding away from the field, and bridging up to a break which included Ben Jaques-Maynes, Garmin’s Tom Peterson, and Saxo Bank’s Jason McCartney. Ben was looking for the hometown win in Santa Cruz, but Levi was too strong and rode all but Peterson off his wheel. Peterson ended up getting the easy win, and the rest of the field came through in tatters, small groups of 10-15 kept coming through even after the awards ceremony was over. Tough day in the saddle.
Our first press conference experience of the tour came right after the finish. Winner Tom Peterson was an absolute goofball, and had the room in stitches. Hometown boy Jaques-Maynes (who won the most courageous rider jersey) was a mix of emotion because his brother Andy had dropped out after he apparently crashed into a parked car. And Francisco Mancebo, who lost his lead today to Leipheimer, answered all his questions through a S
panish interpreter. All in all, my first ever press conference was a kick. And the free press food after wasn’t bad either.
On to Nate’s place in Watsonville to get some rest.
Highlights of the day: The huge crowds in Santa Cruz: check out my photos. The first full day we were truly able to take advantage of those press passes. Tom Peterson is a guber. Levi’s response to the question: what was it like riding in that rainy/windy weather? “Imagine turning your shower on as cold as it can go, then just sit in there for four hours.”