Not quite sure how I'm resisting the gravitational pull of the hotel bed behind me, but here goes with a few words and images from today's stage of the ATOC. Again full marks to the organizers for a good call in Tahoe, but I can't help feeling the riders blew a real opportunity yesterday to demonstrate they are ready to assume a leadership role in their own sport. With their input a good decision was made in the interest of rider safety, but what about Tahoe? Instead of disappearing immediately into the hotel and team buses I wish they'd grabbed warmer gear (it was needed) and spent an hour signing autographs, taking pictures with fans, showing off their bikes and maybe popping a wheelie or two.
It was cold, but Tahoe deserved a little more warmth from the peloton. Again I'll cite the NASCAR example. If they had to call off an event you can bet drivers would be signing autographs and t-shirts, doing donuts in the parking lot... and generally connecting with their fans.
And to the question of whether the ATOC should go back to Tahoe and risk the unpredictability of the Sierras next year; my answer is a resounding yes. This is what many of us asked for; a chance to take our race into our Mountains (capital M). We got unlucky this year, but other than the good folks of Tahoe no one really suffered. I say tee it up again, we're due for some better luck in the weather department. And if it keeps raining we have one more argument for the jackasses who still question climate change.
Two locations today. A short punchy climb just beyond the Nevada City start. The peloton went by en masse in 20 seconds or less. The finish circuit in Sacramento was a little better but my best stuff today were faces.
With still photographers relegated to a position well back from the line for TV's sake, I gambled on a position in the Rabobank VIP area courtesy of a Tour for Kika friend. I was half the distance to the line in a perfect spot for Mr. Swift's triumph but I didn't count on the bloody cell phones. Virtually every person stuck an arm out with a cell phone, playing havoc with AF, and forcing me to pick up the riders too late to get the key shot. Had it kept raining hard for that last circuit it would have worked. The cell phones ran for cover when the sprinkles got heavier.
Notes: Andrew Messick, Jim Birrell and Bob Roll all looked good today in Classic softshell's courtesy of Rapha. HTC had a full complement of their New Team Issue Venge bikes; Saxo had a couple of McLaren Venges in the mix (still my favorite).