Sunday, February 15, 2009

Amgen Tour - Stage 1 Predictions

The Prologue yesterday was a rock concert. Total madness. Reports are that 100,000 people showed up. You get a sense of the size of the crowd from this great pic posted by Jeffery, one of the organizers here in Sacramento.

The weather is extremely windy today, and the rain is soft to driving, but there is a silver lining no one seems to be talking about - its a tailwind!!! The wind is from the SSE or SE and at 20-30 gusting to 50mph. On long, flat stretches these guys are going to be flying. I just checked the winds on for Lake Berryessa, and they are forecast to be 26mph from the SE. That is a long, flat, open stretch, and should be super fast. Expect speeds of 35-40mph on the flats and a blistering pace throughout. Even on the climbs they will get a nice boost. The cold, thick air makes those lungs very efficient, and keeps the body temps under control too, so with fresh legs and near hurricane upslope winds anticipate some amazing climb numbers.

I expect a lot of riders to break out of the Peleton and try to get up front. High tailwinds will make it much easier to maintain a good gap over the field as riding in the Peleton will dull the effect of such strong winds. Riding solo today is not the fool's game it usually is. My hunch is the riders will finish the race pretty fresh and that should make for some high drama at the finish line and lots of gleeful riders doing interviews after. A blistering fast day for the riders will give each of them new confidence and enthusiasm. The 2009 Amgen Tour of California is shaping up to be a smashing sucess.

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