Tuesday, May 17, 2011

2011 Amgen Tour - Stage 3

Well, they're off, under cloudy skies in a spitting rain. This would normally be a very fast course, but they are headed right into the teeth of steady 15-18mph winds, gusting to 30mph. They'll be coming within 10 miles of Carmichael in an hour or so, and the winds here are in the 15-18mph range here at 11:00AM. It's not raining here, but the roads are wet from intermittent rain overnight.

This will likely be the first day of real racing, as the riders are anxious to put some time into the Peleton after two frustrating days. There's already a 7-rider breakaway group off the front, and the SRAM neutral support cars just went ahead of the Peleton. With the wind, they'll have to work well together, or get swallowed up again by the Peleton.

The wind is supposed to shift from SSE to SSW until about Sacramento, and then will be due south heading into Modesto. The course is roughly due south, and after Sacramento, in pretty exposed flat country. The E part of the SSE here in California comes from the giant Pacific storm's swirls being pushed east as they rub up against the Sierra mountains coming up from Southern California. The course, being at the feet of those mountains, is going to bear the brunt of those winds.

The scenery should be spectacular, especially around Camanche Reservoir where the route will be familiar with anyone who's ridden the Sacramento Bike Hiker's annual Party Pardee 100k ride. Before this storm system rolled in, we had 246% of our normal annual rainfall here in Northern California, so lush and green doesn't even begin to cover it.

Enjoy the coverage on The Shack Tracker  starting at 1:15.

PS: I'm doing a poor-man's live blog via the comments, as they are time-stamped. Enjoy!

66 comments:

Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

Love your intro to the race. PLEASE tell me you are going to see them come through. ;)

Grey Beard said...

They're already past me! :-O

Right at the moment, (12:06) they're storming over my favorite course of rollers heading into Rancho Murieta from White Rock Road.

Grey Beard said...

They're about to hit Twin Cities Rd, heading towards Ione, a city that would have dried up and blown away by now except for 2 large prisons. The quaint little mining city that hosts Party Pardee every year.

Twin Cities Rd cuts like an arrow through grassy range with very long rollers, having peaks 2-3 miles apart. Good road crown, so they could really fly there.

Grey Beard said...

Time for a cup of coffee here, but just wanted to say, after the sprint through Ione they will hit hwy88. After hwy88 they have a few miles and then they start into some hilly terrain with some decent climbs.

Grey Beard said...

Back. Looks like they are eating right before the 'climbing' begins. Must be nice to be 155lbs and be able to crank out 400 watts for an hour or more. The lakes will be full, I'm sure, as we're closing in on 3 yrs worth of rain this winter.

Grey Beard said...

The Shack Tracker just confirmed my suspicions about the effect of the fierce headwinds. They are now behind the slowest course projections, and the Peleton is going a whole 13mph through the feed zone. I'm guessing they are spending a lot of time in the drops today.

The breakaway group is now over 7 minutes ahead as they seemed to keep the power down through the feed zone.

Grey Beard said...

The break is into the hills now, so the Peleton has closed the gap down to 6 minutes. That will open up again when the break hits the flats on the other side, while the Peleton finishes there hills.

Grey Beard said...

As most riders know, wind is the hill the never ends. The big teams are all taking turns pushing the pace now at the front of the Peleton, I assume in an attempt to crack the Peleton into fragments later in the race.

The drop in speed from ~23 to ~13 going through the feed station is a good indicator of how much work it's taking to push through this wind. There could be some very tired riders in Modesto after a long, long, stage race.

Grey Beard said...

The gap has been hanging between 5:00 and 4:45 since the Peleton left the hills, and they have stretched the group out to a single-file line, so the strong-men are really pushing the pace at the front.

Both the Peleton and breakaway are in flat terrain now, so a good, clean breakaway time.

Looks like Driscoll is still in no-man's land trying to bridge up?

Grey Beard said...

Gerdemann and Busche both crashed, but are both back up. Very soft landings in those ditches this year as they are soggy and lush with tall grass.

The Shack Tracker just came up with live coverage, and given the 'slow' pace, there's lots of free coverage on tap. Always love to hear Phil's voice.

Jesus, rider 111, just went down hard on a concrete bridge. Ouch! Concrete is so unforgiving. 3+ minutes and still not up and riding again.

Grey Beard said...

Phillip Gaimon has fallen off the back of the breakaway group, with the gap now down to 3:50.

Jesus DelNero, 111, still not up and riding.

Grey Beard said...

Driscoll appears to have been part of the breakaway group all along. My bad.

Grey Beard said...

Those 'scab lands' you see off to the side now on the Shack Tracker are the result of hydraulic mining during the California Gold Rush.

Grey Beard said...

DelNero is hanging onto the side of the team car, having a doctor bandage his hand while riding alongside. Good to see him up.

Baden Cooke working his way back to the front after a front flat.

Grey Beard said...

A lot of riders riding in the drops, with fingers wrapped around their brakes.

Grey Beard said...

Gaimon's trying to bridge up to rejoin the breakaway pack, and is in no-man's land.

Grey Beard said...

Looks like the road is dry, and rain gone, at least for the moment.

Grey Beard said...

DelNero has rejoined the Peleton, but has a nasty foot or more of road-rash below and over his left knee.

Grey Beard said...

Riders riding sans their jackets now, and peeling off shoe covers and such.

Grey Beard said...

Barbed wire fencing uncomfortably close to the road right through here. Let's put the 'no crash' rule in effect!

Grey Beard said...

The California Highway Patrol is out in force, with cars enforcing road closures. Skies are threatening sunshine.

Peleton is no longer stretched out, but fairly bunched up. Two on the break of 6 are tail-gunning now, tiring I'd imagine.

Gaimon is still trying to bridge up. Phil's salivating over all the Angus cattle off in the adjacent pastures. Good, Scottish breed and all. ;)

Grey Beard said...

Andy Schleck flatted. Replacement wheel NOT a slippery 60mm wheel. Looks like an OpenPro training wheel. Ouch! In this wind, and the finish sprint coming up, that could hurt.

Grey Beard said...

Terrain morphing from rolling grasslands into pan-flat farm land. Lots of hay in windrows drying in the wind, but in the rain - not so much.

Grey Beard said...

Course jogging due West here, and the echelon formed instantly at the front of the Peleton.

Grey Beard said...

In the cross-winds now. Expect the strongmen in the Peleton to push hard to arrange a breakaway to crack the Peleton when they turn back full into the wind.

Grey Beard said...

Passing Woodward Reservoir. Very full as expected - water right up to the road.

Grey Beard said...

Gap at 2:20 now, as the Peleton passes by a lake full of whitecaps.

Grey Beard said...

LOL, 4 thoroughbreds are racing the Peleton in an adjacent pasture. Beautiful sight. I think the horses won the 'Pasture Sprint'!

Grey Beard said...

Gap down to 1:40, and except for a very bendy patch of road, in sight of the Peleton.

Grey Beard said...

Race finding its fans again as the Peleton closes in on Modesto. Rows and rows of fruit trees offering some protection from the wind as Daniel Oss fixes a front flat.

Grey Beard said...

Wind in Modesto listed as 10-12mph SSW on The Weather Channel.

Grey Beard said...

Phil's calling the doom of the breakaway, as the rider's body language is signalling their fatigue.

Grey Beard said...

1km to go to the Oakdale sprint. 5 pts in the offing.

Grey Beard said...

Barta leading the sprint, with Maynes right on his wheel. Barta getting some advantage from his aero wheels.

Grey Beard said...

Jacques Maynes now pulling Barta to form a 2-man breakaway. They appear to have dropped the back 4.

Grey Beard said...

The Peleton is a solid block with a short spike up front. Everybody wants to be behind someone else.

Grey Beard said...

Peleton is being quickly shuffled as they turn crosswind.

Grey Beard said...

Somebody please hand Phil a gift certificate to Stuart Anderson's Black Angus restaurant. The beef, taking a queue from thoroughbreds earlier, racing the Peleton, and Phil's salivating on queue as well. :D

Grey Beard said...

Only Jacques-Mayne and Barta are off the front now, as the rest of the break has been absorbed.

Grey Beard said...

Road is now pan flat. How flat is that? Well, in the San Joaquin valley the rule for flood irrigation is less than 4" of grade change PER MILE!

Grey Beard said...

Crosswind break in the making. Big teams battling like hell at the front. Vicious attacks at the front.

Grey Beard said...

Break down to 50 seconds. Hincapie moving to the front. Go BIG George. Sky in control at the front.

Grey Beard said...

Peleton is shattered. 3 pieces now.

Grey Beard said...

Barta alone in front now. Hanging on for dear life.

Grey Beard said...

Barta has just been run over by the Peleton.

Grey Beard said...

Andy Schleck got caught out and is well behind the front of the Pelleton.

Grey Beard said...

Jens Voight pulling Schleck back to the front, likely cranking out 600 watts right at the moment.

Grey Beard said...

Schleck and Thor Hushvold both back to the front of the Peleton.

Grey Beard said...

Headwind turn to crosswind - again. The Peleton has just now reformed. Look for another shattering.

Grey Beard said...

10 miles to go. Horner changed bikes.

Grey Beard said...

Horner has rejoined the pack. Apparently had a simultaneous flat with a teammate.

Grey Beard said...

Dangerous turn coming up coming off of a short stretch with full tailwind.

Grey Beard said...

Streets of Modesto are clean, dry and wide. Sprinters dry dream.

Grey Beard said...

3 riders down crossing the paint of a crosswalk marking.

Grey Beard said...

Raised reflectors in the road making for some dicey turns.

Grey Beard said...

Haedo being led out.

Grey Beard said...

Sky up front, and in control. Ben Swift being led out, but a bit ragged.

Grey Beard said...

Rabo and HTC coming up now.

Grey Beard said...

Baden Cooke crashed. Mathews crashed too.

Grey Beard said...

Henderson leads out - himself as it turned out - and gets the win!

Grey Beard said...

Henderson, Haeto, Hushovd are 1, 2, 3.

Grey Beard said...

Henderson, Swift, Haedo, Sagan on the overall.

Grey Beard said...

Henderson gets the leader's jersey and two excellent kisses.

Grey Beard said...

oops, Sagan, Haedo on the overall.

Grey Beard said...

Hushovd takes 5th in the overall.

Grey Beard said...

Quite a race today. The wind made it a much better test for the riders.

Tomorrow's stage will likely decide the race until the queen stage in the San Gabriel Mountains on stage #7.