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.
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).
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.
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.