Tour of California in for Some Belgian Sunshine

It's raining in the Bay Area

The rains have come to Northern California on the eve of this year's Tour of California. Riders hoping for the temperate weather this state is famous for should have been here a month ago. Monday, a cold wind blew steadily from the North West, and gray clouds began a threatening line of march down both sides of Silicon Valley. The sky looked particularly dark over the Eastern foothills where Sierra Road will test the peloton early in next Tuesday's Stage 3. Here's the ominous forecast through Stage 6.

Prologue – Saturday 14th, Sacramento
Forecast: Showers 60%, high 52 deg.
Stage 1 – Sunday 15th, Davis to Santa Rosa
Forecast: Showers 60%, high 52 deg.
Stage 2 – Monday 16th, Sausalito to Santa Cruz
Forecast: Rain 70%, high 53 deg.

I may drive up to Sacramento for Saturday's prologue and the chance to shoot the full field without the access and logistic limitations of a regular road stage. I'm still considering my coverage options for Stage 2 and they're not particularly good. Catching the peloton at multiple locations on this coastal stage is almost impossible. Quite a departure from the intimate access we had for the Rapha Continental pre-ride over the very same roads.

Traffic, unpredictable rolling road closures and the fact the Pacific Coast Highway hangs on the very edge of the continent will probably yield one on-course location. It will have to be good. At least the weather may provide dramatic skies if the ceiling isn't ten feet off the deck. I'm going to shoot the pre-race background in Sausalito because at least I'll get a 60-90 minute window. From there it won't be possible to catch the riders on the Golden Gate, (Sports Illustrated will have that dialed with an epic shot from one of the towers, weather permitting. If they don't I'll be shocked).

Stage 3 – Tuesday 17th, San Jose to Modesto
Forecast: Showers 60%, high 55 deg.
Stage 4 – Wednesday 18th, Merced to Clovis
Forecast: Showers 40%, high 57 deg.
Stage 5 – Thursday 19th, Visalia to Pasa Robles
Forecast: Cloudy, high 57 deg.
Stage 6 – Friday 20th, Solvang Time Trial
Forecast: Cloudy, high 65 deg.

In other race related news, Lance Armstrong announced today that Ramsus Damsgaard, who runs the Astana testing program, will be administering his testing program and not Don Catlin. This actually doesn't come as a surprise to me. By all accounts Mr. Catlin is highly competent, and I know from speaking directly with him following Armstrong's interbike press conference he's a nice man, but my first reaction to his appearance on the podium was "he's too old for this" I'll admit I'm not comfortable with that prejudice. I just couldn't see how he could possibly keep up with the Livestrong whirlwind of training, racing, and speaking worldwide to secure the kind of access he needed for his program. It will be interesting to see if this has the conspiracists' tongues wagging. It shouldn't. This makes sense.

Back to the weather. Had it not been raining so hard during this afternoon's commute home that I feared to expose the G9 to the elements, I'd have photographed an Indian gentleman riding his bike with a fully deployed umbrella. This might have been quaint in the right setting but making a left turn through a busy intersection was patently dangerous. One gust of wind and that bumbershoot would have been upside down with the rider in it. Would have been a great picture though.

Stage 7 – Saturday 21st, Santa Clarita to Pasadena
Forecast: Showers 60%, high 61 deg.
Stage 8 – Sunday 22nd, Rancho Bernardo to Escondido
Forecast: Showers 60%, high 65 deg.

While I'm really looking forward to the race I'm going to miss a great Rapha ride Monday. Slate, Carey and the usual suspects will be riding from Palo Alto Bicycles (good luck Tim) to the Stage 2 finish in Santa Cruz while Brendan and I stalk the other peloton.

10 Responses to Tour of California in for Some Belgian Sunshine

  1. Nico says:

    I’d call it a wash for riding with an umbrella and shaving while riding. Both potentially lethal if not done properly :-)

  2. Definitely. I couldn’t tell for sure but the umbrella rider might have been in need of a shave. I want to see someone try that combination.

  3. Tim Cox says:

    “riding, racing, suffering and glory”

    Yes, I’m really looking forward to the Rapha Rides the Redwoods (see Mostly the glory bit of it, at least.

    Hmm… your Monday chart says ‘cloud plus 3 drops’ which, to a Brit like me, suggests ‘changeable’.

    Have a great time shooting the Tour. I’ll check back in with a ride report next week.


  4. Georges says:

    Michael, do you know if King’s mountain road is going to be open? I was thinking about riding to the top and catch a glimpse as they come up Tunitas Creek.

    • I didn’t see anything in the press kit about a road closure of King’s Mountain, provided you ride early. Car’s are another story. Not sure when CHP would hold traffic back, but I expect an hour before the peloton arrives cars will either be blocked or cautioned about options.

  5. I love that the nasty weather at the TOC produces some super epic moments and gives a different picture of “soft” California.
    Good luck with your coverage – I feel like the entire world of pro cycling is holding its breath for this one.

  6. willy in pacifica says:


    My plan is to drive to HMB from Pacifica and then ride from HMB to Tunitus Creek. Ride up the hill a ways to watch as they head up then after they pass try to ride back to Hwy 1 and south to Hwy 84 to watch as they head back south on Hwy 1.

    willy in pacifica

  7. chris says:

    Wouldn’t be a bike race without a little ‘Belgian Sunshine’!

  8. Scott says:

    From 100+deg days in South Australia straight to the weather predictions in your blog. Awesome.

    Dark Horses: Fly V Australia. They will want to be in everything, because they don’t have an A1 sprinter and they have some good break-away riders. Plus have you seen their team bikes for this year? Parlee Z4! No bias of course…