Wednesday, May 18, 2011

2011 Amgen Tour - Stage 4


They've pushed the start time back from 10:15 to 11:45, and should therefore be starting under sunny skies and on dry-ish roads after a thorough soaking rain last night. Winds are from the W and SW at around 10mph today, and generally crosswinds for the long stretch heading south on Mines Rd and San Antonio Rd.

I covered the main climb on this stage in some detail here, so will not elaborate further, except to say Mt Hamilton is a bitch of a climb with horrible, asphalt washboard road that will have your Garmin reporting grades for 14,16 and up to 24% right at the top. Temps will be mid-50s at the top of Hamilton, and its eastern face will be sunny, protected from the wind, and fairly warm.

Expect to see a lot of clothing being stripped off on the long descent to the base of Hamilton from the junction of San Antonio Rd and Del Puerto Canyon Rd, which took the riders into Patterson last year after their climb up Mines Rd.

This is THE stage to sort out the overall standings in Northern California. Piety Monday's stage wasn't run in reverse, which would have made it an epic uphill battle, but yesterday's stage into a fierce headwind all day turned out to be a worthy test, so fatigue will be a factor today.

Great times for European sports fans, as I watched Dirk Nowitzki play the closest thing to a perfect basketball game I've seen in almost 30 years. Really, and truly a fantastic, perhaps once in a lifetime performance.

I kind of enjoyed the poor-man's live blogging from the comments section below yesterday, so think I'll get me a big cup of coffee and have another go at that in a few minutes.

Post Script: An emotional day for Andy Schleck, as his teammate  Wouter Weylandt  was laid to rest in Belgium today. 2,000 friends, family and fans paid their respects. Schleck was reportedly in tears at the start. A fitting tribute to  life cut tragically short. 

Congratulations to Chris Horner, and Levi Leipheimer, who now hold 1st and 2nd place in the general category. They worked their butts off, as did all of the RadioShack squad, so deserved it. Rumor was Lance Armstrong was in the crowd watching.. 

78 comments:

Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

Again, another great report.

Looks better with the dry and snow-free conditions.

Bet those legs are talking after the winds yesterday.

Grey Beard said...

Thank you, and good morning Robin. How is SC today? Hot again?

Grey Beard said...

A 10-man breakaway group has formed, in what is still flat terrain, and has 40 seconds on the pack.

Grey Beard said...

With Thor Hushovd in the breakaway, they are opening up a gap fast. Now up to 2:40. Don't have his telemetry, but at 180 lbs, and good climbing legs, he has the watts to blow open a big lead at the front of a 10-man breakaway.

Grey Beard said...

Besides Hushovd, the other 9 breakaway riders are Martin Pedersen (Leopard Trek), Lars Boom (Rabobank Cycling Team), Rubens Bertogliati (Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis), Will Routley (Team Spidertech Powered By C10), Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Cycling), Jeremy Vennell (Bissell Cycling), Alastair Loutit (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) and James Stemper (Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder)

Grey Beard said...

Results of the 1st KOM are
Lars Boom
Will Routley
Jesse Anthony
Rubens Bertogliati

Gap now 2:30-ish

Grey Beard said...

CyclingNews.com is reporting light rain and damp roads, but not soaking rain or the fierce winds of yesterday.

As Sac is about 60 miles east of the course today, as the crow flies, whatever weather they get, we'll be getting here in 6 hours or so.

If you like cherries look for them in a store near you. Mine are epic this year as I recently fertilized, and with the rain I'm sure the packing sheds around Lodi are working 100+ hour weeks to get those out to market before the rain spoils them.

Grey Beard said...

Rubens Bertogliati (Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis), one of the riders in the break, told Laura Weislo that he will be hanging out in the US to race the Philadelphia International Classic with his teammate Aldo Ino Ilesci in early June. The two loved Tahoe so much they're going to rent an apartment after the Tour of California and stay up there to get some altitude training in before heading to Philly.

Yeah, Tahoe is the bomb for training. I still prefer Minden, Nv, but both provide access to the greatest training routes in the world. There are at least a dozen good passes in the area, and 4-5 that are epic HCs.

Grey Beard said...

Very dissappointed, as it looks like the Shack Tracker won't start coverage until after the Mt Hamilton climb when starting at 1:55PM PDT.

Grey Beard said...

Radioshack is controlling the Peleton for Leipheimer, who is a favorite to win this climbing stage with the mtn top finish he's campaigned for several years in a row now.

Grey Beard said...

Gap now down to the 1:35 range.

Grey Beard said...

Hard to tell exactly from the TourTracker, but it looks like they are getting close to the junction, and will start heading downhill to the base of Mt Hamilton soon.

Grey Beard said...

On the fast descent of San Antonio Rd the breakaway is being reeled in and the gap is under a minute now. RadioShack will want their team leading up and over the approach climb to Mt Hamilton for Leipheimer.

Grey Beard said...

Sounds like they are not yet at the junction - marked by the only sign of human habitation - a small bar and grill that anchors the 2nd rest stop on the Canyon Classic, and hosts the lunch stop for the recent Devil Mountain Double Century.

After the junction, the road is straight and fast and slightly downhill for about 5 miles iirc. Normally a carpet of wildflowers until the 1st of May.

Grey Beard said...

LOL, yeah, about that downhill feed zone, too fast for some riders to catch their feed bag, and not much time for the domestics to fetch them one. Hope they have some high-GI fuel on them or they aren't going to be competitive on Hamilton.

Grey Beard said...

The Peleton is FLYING down that shallow downgrade of San Antonio Rd. The kind of shallow grade that invites you to put down some power and fly, not the kind that heats up your brakes. I'm guessing 30+ mph.

Grey Beard said...

There are some VERY rough, steep, twisting, descending turns at the end of that straight, so expect some crashes.

Grey Beard said...

Humm, it looks like the summit of the approach climb to Hamilton is itself a KOM. All the more necessary for RadioShack to be up front, ensuring Leipheimer's rotation at the front gets him a KOM with the break swallowed fully up.

Grey Beard said...

I think Thor Hushovd should contest RadioShack's plan, and hammer the approach climb. He'll have time to recover somewhat on the descent to the base of the main Hamilton climb, and being a good climber, his best shot at controlling the climb.

Grey Beard said...

10 minutes till the Shack Tour Tracker starts coverage. They'll be on Hamilton by then, but not over it. Yeah!!!

Grey Beard said...

I think CyclingNews has Thor's strategy wrong. I think he went with the break to push the pace. A big, strong, high-wattage climber should press his power advantage in the 'flats' visa-vie the kites by pushing the pace all the way to the climb. With a 10-man break, he's not exactly going it alone. Smart move Thor!

Grey Beard said...

Results of the 2nd KOM are..

Will Routley
Jesse Anthony
Lars Boom
Rubens Bertogliati

Grey Beard said...

The gap is back up to 1:10 as they are at the steep, twisty descent now. Let's hope there are no crashes.

Grey Beard said...

They should be seeing the 2 small lakes that mark the bottom of the descent right about NOW. 5KM to the approach climb, and 7KM to the main climb. Time to hit the G-A-S guys!!!

Grey Beard said...

Tour Tracker is coming up ....

Grey Beard said...

Mt Hamilton was omitted last year, and has been somewhat controversial as it pretty much decided the entire race on the 3rd stage back in 2009.

Grey Beard said...

TT up... RadioShack all together at the front

Grey Beard said...

Chopper's right down in the trees. Looks like a scene from Apocalypse Now! Green, green, green. WOW. What beauty!

Grey Beard said...

They're on the approach climb now!

Grey Beard said...

Thor's up front of RadioShack and the Peleton! Go big guy!

Grey Beard said...

Looks like they are on the main climb now. WOW these guys are strong/fast. Oh to be 20-something again.

Grey Beard said...

http://shacktracker.amgentourofcalifornia.com/


hope you're watching

Grey Beard said...

13mph up Hamilton. I didn't average 5 on the Canyon Classic.

Grey Beard said...

Rubens Bertogliati just barely holding a lead over RadioShack at the head of the Peleton.

Grey Beard said...

As expected, all of the foul wx gear is gone, and jerseys are all zipped down in front.

Grey Beard said...

Jens Voight and Ryder Heyjadal right behind RadioShack, who are really pushing the pace. This road is so steep it's just barely hanging onto the mountain. The surface is very poor, and the descent can be very treacherous and unforgiving.

Grey Beard said...

1 lone break rider is only 30 meters ahead of RadioShack.

Somebody hand Phil a map. He doesn't seem to realize they are already ON Mt Hamilton.

Grey Beard said...

They've just passed thru the large hair-pin turn. The immediate aftermath is flatish, but morphs into the 2nd steepest grade of the climb in about 300 yards.

Grey Beard said...

The Peleton is TOTALLY shattered. Just a long string of sub-groups. SaxoBank has fallen off the back.

Grey Beard said...

Chris Horner is at the front, sudding it up big-time.

Grey Beard said...

They're done with the climb... cresting now.. really flying

Grey Beard said...

Lead group is ~ 30 riders. Descent is very technical, and speeds over 50mph for the bricks.

Grey Beard said...

Descending through fog now. RadioShack still controlling the race.

Grey Beard said...

This is a very long 4,000 ft descent. About 20 miles worth.

Grey Beard said...

A nice, and rare, longish straight stretch just now on the descent.

Grey Beard said...

Ryder Hesjedal (Team Garmin-Cervelo) launches an attack on a small climb that interrupts the descent. A good bit of road for a Cross rider.

Schleck is trying to address a flatting tire, and has been waiting for a team car for some time now.

Flatting tire on a technical descent... uuugh. Good luck Andy.

Grey Beard said...

Martens and Hesjedal on a small 2-man break.

Grey Beard said...

Hesjedal is leaving Martens behind, as well as RadioShack. Martens looks out of control at times, while Hesjedal seems to be nailing every turn, diving into the apex of each turn. Risky descent though at Hesjedal's speeds.

Grey Beard said...

RadioShack firmly in control at the front of the Peleton. Hesjedal and Martens off the front, though Hesjedal is 800 yards ahead of Martens.

Grey Beard said...

A slight uphill in the course right now, and Hesjedal has waited for Martens to join his effort off the front.

Schleck seems to have only needed a couple of water bottles, so is on the back of the Peleton.

Grey Beard said...

Don't know if it's offered, but it would be worth $50 to get a ride up to the top of Hamilton just to do this roller-coaster descent. What a blast!!!

Grey Beard said...

Wow, Hesjedal is within inches of the white line at the edge of the road on what is increasingly a course of long, gently bending descents.

Grey Beard said...

Martens is off the course!

Grey Beard said...

Hesjedal tried to wait, but Martens is off, safely, on a small bit of gravel road.

This is the one and ONLY part of the race where I'd beat the entire pack. At 5'9", a 29" inseam, riding a 54cm and 190 lbs I go downhill like greased lightening, often passing kites pedaling furiously in 53-11 gears. I'd be the guy with a bad case of perma-grin as I passed Hesjedal! :D

Oh, Martens has rejoined Hesjedal now.

Grey Beard said...

Peleton's speed ~ 36mph.

Grey Beard said...

Someone tell Hesjedal to move his seat forward 25mm. He's way off the front of the seat.

Grey Beard said...

Crowds 3-4 deep on both sides of the road as we start up Sierra Rd.

Grey Beard said...

Hesjedal has dropped Martens like a greased turd.

Grey Beard said...

Schleck is right behind Leipheimer, who's in 3rd position at the front of the Peleton.

Grey Beard said...

RadioShack at the front of the Peleton totally controlling the pace.

Grey Beard said...

Peleton just swallowed up Martens

Grey Beard said...

BIG George is moving up through the Peleton

Grey Beard said...

Horner and Leiphimer putting the hammer down, dropping the Peleton, still 30 seconds to Hesjedal.

Grey Beard said...

15 seconds now

Grey Beard said...

Ryder is caught! Hushovd moving up.

Grey Beard said...

Horner dropping Leipheimer!

Grey Beard said...

TJ VanGarderen leading a small chase group

Grey Beard said...

Horner dancing on the pedals now, still opening the gap as he climbs away.

Grey Beard said...

Hesjedal is hanging with Leipheimer, and their being joined by Rory Sutherland

Grey Beard said...

Horner opens gap to over a minute

Grey Beard said...

I wonder if Leipheimer missed his feed bag???

Grey Beard said...

Horner is less than 800 meters from the finish

Grey Beard said...

500 meter marker passed

Grey Beard said...

200 meter marker passed. Horner has a big smile for the crowd

Grey Beard said...

Horner's finished!

Grey Beard said...

Schleck is trying to break away from Leipheimer and Southerland

Grey Beard said...

Horner up by 1:15 on the chase group

Grey Beard said...

Horner wins the stage, and the overall, and will be wearing the yellow jersey tomorrow.

at 1:15+

Schleck
Sutherland
Leipheimer