By Luke Ramseth
Solvang is a Danish-themed town in the hills outside Santa Barbara. Its claim to fame, other than its wannabe-european culture, are the professional cyclists that descend on its roads each year.
Today was big for a few reasons. The Solvang Time Trial was likely going to be the deciding day in the race to see whether Levi Leipheimer would take the overall win. And it was HSU-TV’s (Nate Abaurrea and myself) chance to get in a chase car and get some in-race material for the documentary we’re putting together.
Riding in the team chase car
Nate was smart, and had been emailing the Columbia-Highroad director to see if he could squeeze in a car to get some footage. Sure enough, the director called this morning and told him he was in. I had done no such planning ahead, but lucked out when Colavita Sutter-Home team manager Ed Beamon told me I could ride along.
Ed and I followed Tyler Wren, only the second rider to leave the start house. I pictured Ed getting on the radio, telling Tyler to push, push, push, as we drove behind, but Ed let him do his thing. It was a fascinating experience to see how a team like Colavita works from the inside. Some photos from the experience:
I learned about the inner workings of a cycling team, and about Colavita’s individual riders like sprinter Sebastian Haedo (3 top tens this week). I learned about how a small team like Colavita is put together; the team has a few Americans but also keeps a loyal Hispanic following with its Argentinean and Cuban riders. I also got to hear Ed’s take on the doping controversy.
Interview with Team Type 1’s Chris Jones
Chris is from my hometown of Auburn, Calif. I wanted to see how he was doing at least once during the week, and today was the perfect opportunity. So far he’s been surviving, but his team is on its last legs with just three riders still in the race. Look for Chris to make some noise on Sunday in a breakaway.
Q: Saw you were in a breakaway two days ago. Are you planning on going for that again?
A: We’re down to three riders, and we lost our GC rider, so we’re looking for breaks. The other day I was in one with Hincapie, Vande Velde, Rory Sutherland, Chechu Rubiera. I thought, this is cool, but Rock Racing chased it back for the KOM points. We’re gonna keep trying.
Q: Why do you have three guys left? I saw a few crashed, but what’s going on?
A: Darren Lill had tendinitis, Ian Macregor crashed descending Sierra Grade when he went off the road and hit a truck. Our two diabetic riders both got sick. The wet and cold has been rough. It’s been a tough race.
Q: Are you feeling good coming off your cyclocross season? How’s your training early on?
A: For cross, I didn’t train, just raced with the form I had. I started really training for this race around Thanksgiving. I feel OK but not stellar. Normally I could climb front group with these guys, but not right now. And that’s why we’re searching for breakaways.
Q: What brought you to Auburn?
A: My wife works in Roseville, she’s a pediatrician. We hadn’t even been to Auburn, just picked it off a map and searched the internet. There’s good riding and it’s the endurance capital of the world. We live right by the stagecoach trail, so I go mountain biking quite a bit there.
Q: How did today (the time trial) go?
A: It was just about getting in under the time cut, and saving the energy for this weekend.
Q: How’s the field? Is this the biggest race you’ve done?
Yeah, I’ve done international small tours, but this is the best field I’ve ridden in. Someone said there was 20 Tour de France stage winners here, and that’s incredible.
Highlights of the day: The Colavita team car was a blast, and I learned a lot (thanks Ed). Crowds were once again massive, and it was great to talk to my hometown guy Chris Jones. Look for an article in the Auburn Journal on him soon.
Some video clips from the day in Solvang: