As some of you were aware, the Amgen Tour of California rode through the state last week and John and I were lucky to be a part of it for two days! This was the fourth year of the race and John has been lucky to go every year. I missed the race two years ago when I couldn't take time off from my new job. Last year I was lucky because it rained...and due to the rain the riders were over an hour later than expected...which meant they arrived after 5pm...after I got off work. Sweet!
One very disappointing thing about the race this year was that it was not stopping in San Luis, but it was stopping in Paso Robles instead! I know!!! The horror! All I have to say is that it's a good thing that Lance came back, because that definitely made the trip up north worth it.
The riders were expected to arrive into town around 3pm but John was able to get off work and we got into town around noon. Our early arrival was awesome for many reasons. One - we got an AWESOME parking spot, which is key when you are a gimp like myself. Two - we got to have a nice relaxing lunch at The Crooked Kilt which was tasty. Three - we had time to scout out where we wanted to watch the race.
Next to the main road was a small brick wall that we claimed. It was perfect because I was able sit and rest my foot until the racers showed up. The other reason it was perfect was because we were able to stand up on the wall for a better view.
Here was a HUGE map of the different routes on the race: (click to enlarge)Interesting how there is no action north of Santa Rosa. What does that tell you?
Here is John waiting with his 'Let Levi Ride' shirt...with the finish line behind him. (Last year Levi Leipheimer was not allowed to ride in the Tour de France because team Astana, whom he did not ride for at the time, was banned from the '08 season for doping. Even though they fired the entire old team, and hired a new team director and riders the team was unable to compete. There was a website where people could sign up to petition the UCI, the governing body of the tour, where this shirt was for sale. John sent the site out to everyone, and one of our friends bought him the shirt. He loves it!)
Here I am sitting on our brick wall with my Lance Fan.
John went to cruise some of the booths and came back with these sweet Columbia-Highroad bikers hats for us to wear. John totally reminds me of Wesley Snipes in the 90's.
We only had to wait 2 hours for the riders to show up which wasn't that bad at all...considering they rode by us in 3 seconds! It was a sprint finish, but John captured this awesome photo of the two riders battling it out for first place.
Mark Cavendish, in yellow and team Columbia Highroad, won. Yaroslav Popovych got second. (John likes Popo because he's from Luxembourg). Unfortunately we did not get to see Lance, because the bikers rode by us so fast.
After the race we tried to make it over to the awards stage but there were SO many people it was impossible. As we were walking to get to the other side of it we decided to stop directly behind the stage and a volunteer told us that the winners walk right through this area. We also found out that they did their post race interviews as well. Here is Levi. (Even though he didn't win this stage he was still in first overall.)
While John was taking photos, I took a video of the race. You might need to watch it more than once as they go by so fast.