February 28, 2007
McQuaid: Paris-Nice teams "will be heavily penalized"
L'Equipe reports that UCI president Pat McQuaid is threatening punishments against any ProTour team that shows up for Paris-Nice March 11th.
McQuaid reportedly sent a letter to four French teams — AG2R, Bouyges Telecom, Cofidis, and Française des Jeux — saying, in part, "if you decide, against the rules, to take part in Paris-Nice, you will be heavily penalized."
Bouyges Telecom, Cofidis, and FdJeux were linked with Rabobank, T-Mobile, and Gerolsteiner Friday in a Reuters story that claimed those 6 teams would defy the UCI and start the race. Gerolsteiner, T-Mobile and Rabobank later denied the report, with Rabobank's Erik Breukink declaring the team “100 percent behind the UCI,” while T-Mobile was more conciliatory.
Paris-Nice, the biggest of the early-season tours, is organized by ASO, which also organizes the Tour de France. ASO and the other Grand Tour organizers are locked in a power struggle with the UCi.
The organization of teams is scheduled to meet March 2nd, and Paris-Nice will be a major topic of discussion.
Liggett on Landis: "I believe he will win his appeal"
Appearing in Colorado, voice of the Tour (in English) Phil Liggett said Monday he thinks Floyd Landis will be cleared of the doping charges he faces.
Liggett said he had spoken with Landis during the Tour of California:
“I ran into Floyd and we had a very quiet one-on-one around the dinner table ... He's so angry. During the week he announced his defense policies. There have been mistakes made on the testing and I believe he will win his appeal.”
Liggett was appearing at an expansion of Wheat Ridge Cyclery, co-owned by former 7-11 pro rider Ron Kiefel.
Landis, of course, faces disciplinary hearings after a urine sample from last year's Tour came back with an elevated epitestosterone-to-testosterone ratio. For mindboggling detail on what's going on in the case, check in with Trust But Verify.
February 27, 2007
Tour de Georgia still seeking title sponsor; may have to scale back
So with a very successful Tour of California complete, the next big weeklong tour in the US is April's Tour of Georgia. Or it probably is; Tour organizers still haven't found a replacement for title sponsor Ford.
The local business paper has a story about the hunt for a new title sponsor, and the $800,000 one would bring, linked over at TdGblog, my Tour de Georgia weblog. In short, if they can't find a sponsor by March 2nd, organizers may have to scale back the race.
To keep up with developments with the Tour de Georgia, subscribe to TdGblog's feed.
February 26, 2007
Ullrich hangs up cleats without license or contract
Jan Ullrich, who won the 1997 Tour and was 2nd four times, announced his retirement from pro cycling today, amid continuing problems stemming from his alleged involvement in Operación Puerto.
Ullrich was among the riders excluded from the 2006 Tour the day before the prologue. He was dropped by T-Mobile as a result, and is under investigation by both the German and Swiss cycling federations.
“All these wrong allegations really put me down,” the 33- year-old German said today at a press conference in Hamburg broadcast by n-tv. “My career as an active cyclist is definitely over.”
Ullrich said he has taken a job as consultant and representative to Austria's Volksbank team.
In his career, Ullrich never finished the Tour de France lower than 4th place. In 2005, his most recent Tour, he was 3rd behind Lance Armstrong and Ivan Basso, another rider implicated in Operación Puerto, but who is now racing for Discovery Channel after being cleared by the Italian cycling federation.
“I never once cheated as a cyclist ... I still don't understand why I was not allowed to compete in the Tour last year.”
Also lists his full palmares, including a Vuelta win in 1999, two world time-trial championships, an Olympic road gold, and two overall victories in the Tour of Switzerland.
February 25, 2007
Dominguez takes Stage 7, Leipheimer the overall at ToC
So far, the Tour of California has been the Discovery Channel/CSC Variety Hour, with guest stars Paolo Bettini and Graeme Brown. CSC has 3 wins, 2 by Juan José Haedo and one by Jen Voigt, while Discovery Channel has two by Leipheimer in the race's two time trials.
So it's understandable the US squads were on the attack today on the circuit race in Long Beach.
Danny Pate of Slipstream and Tim Johnson of HealthNet kicked off the day's big break, joined by Johnson teammate Karl Menzies, Pate teammate Steven Cozza, Toyota-United's Sean Sullivan, Priority Health's Ben Jacques-Maynes, and T-Mobile's Adam Hansen. At one point, Pate was yellow jersey on the road, but Discovery had plenty of help today from teams looking for a sprint stage win, including BMC, Credit Agricole, and Rabobank.
Menzies was the final survivor with around 2 miles to ride. Pate would take the overall most-aggressive rider's jersey for his active role all week.
From there, the ProTour teams worked to place their sprint specialists. CSC got on the front, with Rabobank trying to set up Graeme Brown and Gerolsteiner working for Robert Förster. At the line, the win went to Toyota-United's Ivan Dominguez, who found and attacked from Brown's wheel.
“For me it is better if I find my own way in a sprint,” said Dominguez. “With four laps to go I found Graeme Brown's wheel and I stayed there. When we started the sprint he just took me all the way to the finish.”
Dominguez was brought over to Toyota-United partly to fill the gap left by Juan José Haedo, now riding for CSC, who took the points jersey for the overall tour.
Levi Leipheimer wraps a wire-to-wire overall win in front of the home crowd. It's going to be very interesting to see how his season develops; this could either be his payoff for working for Basso at the Grand Tours, or the beginning of the big season he's worked for.
Best young rider goes to Rabobank's Robert Gesink, :41 ahead of Matthew Lloyd of Predictor-Lotto. CSC took the team classification, 2:19 up on Discovery Channel. Said Stuart O'Grady:
“We came here with the objective of going for the overall. But getting three stage wins plus second, fourth, fifth, sixth, the overall team classification and the sprinters jersey was a superb week. We've come from a really hard training camp and it was hard. But the hard days are paying off and we've come away from this with way more than expected and we are all very happy.”
Christophe Laurent took the King of the Mountains overall.
February 24, 2007
Haedo doubles up at ToC Stage 6
But CSC, the world's top-rated squad, wasn't ready to concede. They pushed the pace all day, trying to spring Jens Voigt, and eventually getting Stuart O'Grady, 5th overall 1:20 behind Leipheimer, into a break with 8 others, including Slipstream's Danny Pate, T-Mobile's Michael Rogers, and Quick Step's Bram Tankink.
The gap rose to more than 3 minutes, and Discovery put all hands into the chase, including George Hincapie, who didn't yet realize he had broken his wrist early in the stage in an accident with teammate Tony Cruz. The news is bad for Hincapie, the US road champion: He's expected to miss the spring classics, a group of races in which he's traditionally excelled.
As the break approached the finishing laps of Santa Clarita, O'Grady took monster pulls, but couldn't hold off the peloton, which made the catch with less than 5 kilometers to ride, apparently locking up Leipheimer's overall win. It was a titanic battle between CSC and Discovery Channel.
Gerolsteiner made a move to set up Robert Förster in the last kilometer, but left him on his own too soon. The sprinters enveloped Förster, with Freddie Rodriguez getting tangled with the Gerolsteiner rider. Meanwhile, Juan José Haedo puled an almost McEwen-like act, appearing right against the storm fencing and just outkicking the likes of Thor Hushovd, Greg Henderson, Paolo Bettini, and Luca Paolini. T-Mobile's Henderson was 2nd, with Bettini 3rd.
The win was the 4th for Haedo over the race's 2 years.
Credit Agricole's Christophe Laurent locked up the overall king of the mountains title, despite the efforts of Quick Step's Jurgen Van De Walle, who outscored Laurent at 3 of 4 KoM primes on the day.
Haedo is strongly placed for the points classification, and Levi Leipheimer looks to have sewn up the overall, with just 77.5 kilometers left to race on Sunday.
1) Juan José Haedo, Argentina, CSC, in 3:56:04
2) Greg Henderson, New Zealand, T-Mobile, same time
3) Paolo Bettini, Italy, Quick Step-Innergetic, s.t.
4) Thor Hushovd, Norway, Crédit Agricole, s.t.
5) Fred Rodriguez, USA, Predictor-Lotto, s.t.
6) Robert Förster, Germany, Gerolsteiner, s.t.
7) Luca Paolini, Italy, Liquigas-Bianchi, s.t.
8) Alex Candelario, USA, Jelly Belly, s.t.
9) Alejandro Acton, Argentina, Colavita-Sutter Home, s.t.
10) Russell Downing, Great Britain, Health Net-Maxxis, s.t.
1) Levi Leipheimer, USA, Discovery Channel, 22:17:56
2) Jens Voigt, Germany, CSC, at :21
3) Jason McCartney, USA, Discovery Channel, at :54
4) Bobby Julich, USA, CSC, at 1:06
5) Stuart O'Grady, Australia, CSC, at 1:16
6) Christian Vandevelde, USA, CSC, at 1:24
7) Michael Rogers, Australia, T-Mobile, at 1:32
8) Ben Day, Australia, Navigators, at 1:38
9) Franco Pellizotti, Italy, Liquigas-Bianchi, at 1:41
10) Ryder Hesjedal, Canada, Health Net-Maxxis, at 1:57
February 23, 2007
Leipheimer dominates Cali TT
Discovery Channel and Team CSC dominated the day, taking 9 of the top 10 places. The sole interloper was Priority Health's Ben Jacques-Maynes, who was 3rd in the race's prologue on Sunday.
World time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara could manage only 4th on the day.
Leipheimer, who had a very disappointing time trial in last year's Tour de France, partially credited the win to a change in his position discovered during an off-season wind tunnel session.
The results were enough to bump Rabobank's Robert Gesink ahead of Predictor-Lotto's Matthew Lloyd in the young rider's competition. All four race jerseys (overall, mountains, points, and young rider) are still in play, with the climber's jersey to be decided on Saturday.
Top 10 on the day:
1) Levi Leipheimer, USA, Discovery Channel, in 29:40.44
2) Jens Voigt, Germany, Team CSC, at 18.07
3) Jason McCartney, USA, Discovery Channel, at 24.70
4) Fabian Cancellara, Switzerland, Team CSC, at 37.47
5) George Hincapie, USA, Discovery Channel, at 40.10
6) Bobby Julich, USA, Team CSC, at 41.86
7) Christian Vandevelde, USA, Team CSC, at 56.66
8) Stuart O'Grady, Australia, Team CSC, at 59.95
9) Ivan Basso, Italy, Discovery Channel, at 1:02.66
10) Ben Jacques-Maynes, USA, Priority Health, at 1:14.17
1) Levi Leipheimer, USA, Discovery Channel, in 18:21:52
2) Jens Voigt, Germany, CSC, at :21
3) Jason McCartney, USA, Discovery Channel, at :54
4) Bobby Julich, USA, CSC, at 1:06
5) Stuart O'Grady, Australia, CSC, at 1:20
6) Christian Vande Velde, USA, CSC, at 1:24
7) Michael Rogers, Australia, T-Mobile, at 1:34
8) Ben Day, Australia, Navigators, at 1:38
9) Franco Pellizotti, Italy, Liquigas, at 1:41
10) Ryder Hesjedal, Canada, Health Net, at 1:57
Posted by Frank Steele on February 23, 2007 in Christian Vande Velde, Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rogers, Top Stories, Tour of California, Tour of California 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)
February 22, 2007
California Cricket: Bettini takes ToC Stage 4
On Thursday, Paolo Bettini got his first-ever win in the United States. He narrowly outsprinted world under-23 champion Gerald Ciolek of T-Mobile, with CSC's Juan José Haedo third.
Christophe Laurent of Credit Agricole joined a host of US continental riders for the day's primary breakaway, and therefore Laurent took over the lead in the king of the mountains competition. Also on board were Kirk O'Bee, Alejandro Acton, Aaron Olson Lucas Euser, Hilton Clarke, and Sean Sullivan. The peloton was content to let this group get away, and only Discovery Channel worked until very late in the stage, when Liquigas and Rabobank joined in to try and give their sprinters a chance. Finally, with 5 kilometers to ride and CSC driving the field, the break was captured.
Ciolek was first around the day's last corner, with Bettini on his wheel, but there was no denying the rainbow jersey, who took a photo finish that had the top three spread over about a wheel's width.
Bettini complimented T-Mobile's young German:
It was very hard for me to close that gap and the sprint was close by only a few centimeters. I was fortunate to have the power to come back to him today. He is very young and very fast and with experience he is going to be a very big rider."
Levi Leipheimer maintained the race lead, although Jens Voigt threatened to gap the field while setting up Haedo for the sprint.
February 21, 2007
Stage 3 to the old master: Jens Voigt leads the way
A large break went away early, featuring CSC's Jens Voigt, Discovery Channel's Jason McCartney, three riders each from Liquigas and HealthNet-Maxxis, Steven Cozza and Will Frischkorn from Team Slipstream, Jelly Belly's Nick Reistad, QuickStep's Jurgen Van De Walle, and seven others. They got 5 minutes advantage on the field, and Discovery burned a lot of matches chasing.
Finally, Rabobank joined in, and the gap started to come down. Then came Sierra Road. The breakaway fell apart on the 10-kilometer climb, and Ivan Basso was the only Discovery Channel rider who could help team leader Levi Leipheimer, with Hincapie and Danielson falling off from the chase effort. Even Basso fell away shortly up the climb, leaving Leipheimer, Chris Horner, and Rabobank's Robert Gesink the strongest of the main field.
Voigt and McCartney were best of the break, but Leipheimer's group was sweeping through the break's remnants, closing fast. The five joined up a few kilometers from the summit.
Over the top, with 22 kilometers down into San Jose, Leipheimer led Voigt, Horner, Gesink, and McCartney. Fifteen riders were about a minute back, but Leipheimer and McCartney went all out to put some time into the field, and Voigt knew just how to play it.
Voigt saved himself for the last kilometers, and when the time came, he delivered. With Quick Step and Paolo Bettini reeling in the leaders, Voigt led Leipheimer, then Chris Horner over the line.
Voigt's bonus time moves him into 2nd overall, 3 seconds behind Leipheimer. Health Net's Rory Sutherland sits 3rd, at 15 seconds with Chris Horner 4th at 16 seconds back.
The day's Top 10:
1) Jens Voigt, Germany, Team CSC, 3:43:44
2) Levi Leipheimer, US, Discovery Channel, same time
3) Christopher Horner, US, Predictor-Lotto, s.t.
4) Robert Gesink, Netherlands, Rabobank, at :04
5) Paolo Bettini, Italy, Quick Step, s.t.
6) Stuart O'Grady, Australia, CSC, s.t.
7) Enrico Gasparotto, Italy, Liquigas, s.t.
8) Dimitri Fofonov, Kazakhstan, Credit Agricole, s.t.
9) Bram De Groot, Netherlands, Rabobank, s.t.
10) Sergey Lagutin, Uzbekistan, Navigators Insurance, s.t.
1) Levi Leipheimer, US, Discovery Channel, 12:46:25
2) Jens Voigt, Germany, CSC, at :03
3) Rory Sutherland, Australia, Health Net-Maxxis, at :15
4) Chris Horner, USA, Predictor-Lotto, at :16
5) Mauricio Ardila Cano, Colombia, Rabobank, at :17
6) Ben Day, Australia, Navigators Insurance, at :18
7) Ryder Hesjedal, Canada, Health Net-Maxxis, at :19
8) Michael Rogers, Australia, T-Mobile, s.t.
9) Sergey Lagutin, Uzbekistan, Navigators Insurance, at :20
10) Stuart O'Grady, Australia, CSC, s.t.
Posted by Frank Steele on February 21, 2007 in Chris Horner, Ivan Basso, Jens Voigt, Levi Leipheimer, Paolo Bettini, Stuart O'Grady, Top Stories, Tour of California, Tour of California 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)
Adobe's California Tour Tracker: Amazing
I've been trying to follow the Tour of California through the race's official website, and its very pretty Tour Tracker, but I've been unable to get into it during the race most days. I've been making do with the usual race diet of text updates from CyclingNews.com and VeloNews, and meaning to get back in to check out the Tour Tracker.
I've gotten in before and after stages, and thought I therefore had an idea what the Tracker does, but I was woefully mistaken. I thought it was just another GPS and map interactive tracker, but with nicer graphics. It is so much more than that.
In fact, the Adobe Flex and Flash-based application also includes streaming live video, which, by default, displays at the full size of your browser window, with the translucent panels overlaid over the video but still active. Mark Shimahara of BikeZen.com is adding photos during stages, and including Flickr in the distribution. In the right sidebar, there's a scroll of the VeloNews live ticker.
It's not perfect: It seems likely that the app's load time and its unavailability during stages are related. There are reports of browser incompatibilities, and some of the information could be handled better: I would rather they use the “Tour Standings” panel for intermediate sprints and KoM points, especially since they're not keeping that updated (tonight it's still showing standings from before today's stage).
But that's complaining about pigeons on the Statue of Liberty: When it's working, this app combines the best of Cycling.TV, VeloNews, excellent cycling photography, and real-time race tracking all on one page. We should be so lucky during the Tour.
RIAPedia, a site tracking Flash and Flex-based rich internet applications, calls it the “absolute coolest, sexiest Flex application. Ever.”
Slipstream's Frischkorn blogging Tour of California
Over at Missing Saddle, Will Frischkorn is blogging his Tour of California, checking in with a long recap of yesterday's stage.
His Team Slipstream, which had an amazing US Pro Championship ride as TIAA-CREF, has brought that momentum forward into 2007, and ride today with Jason Donald, 2nd in the General Classification, king of the mountains leader Thomas Peterson, and Taylor Tolleson and Peterson the top two in the young rider's competition.
February 20, 2007
California Stage 2 photo galleries
Haedo takes first CSC win at California Stage 2
It sure helps to have Jens Voigt and Stuart O'Grady setting up your sprint. Juan José Haedo, newly signed by Team CSC, found that out today as he took the Sacramento sprint finish by a very healthy margin in front of Luca Paolini of Liquigas and Thor Hushovd of Credit Agricole.
Haedo, the Argentinian sprinter who won two Tour of California stages for Toyota-United last year, notched his first victory for Team CSC with a beautiful burst to pull clear of a premium field of sprinters.
A three-man break of Credit Agricole's Christophe Laurent, Colavita's Irish national champion David McCann, and Priority Health's Omer Kem got a five minute gap and absorbed many of the day's bonuses, but they were ultimately captured before the pack reached Sacramento.
Danny Pate jumped across and tried to solo in as the pack approached McCann and Laurent, but he later admitted it was a mistake:
"It was way too windy for one guy," Pate said at the finish. "I hadn't done that run in before, and I was hoping for some trees, or something, some kind of windbreak, but it didn't happen ... It was just an opportunity that I decided to take that didn't work out."
Your Top 11 (in deference to Freddie Rodriguez)
1) Juan José Haedo, Argentina, Team CSC, 4:40:39
2) Luca Paolini, Italy, Liquigas, same time
3) Thor Hushovd, Norway, Credit Agricole, s.t.
4) Allan Davis, Australia, Discovery Channel, s.t.
5) Gerald Ciolek, Germany, T-Mobile, s.t.
6) Graeme Brown, Australia, Rabobank, s.t.
7) Greg Henderson, New Zealand, T-Mobile, s.t.
8) Ivan Dominguez, Cuba, Toyota United Pro, s.t.
9) Hilton Clarke, Australia, Navigators Insurance, s.t.
10) Paolo Bettini, Italy, Quick Step, s.t.
11) Fred Rodriguez, US, Predictor-Lotto, s.t.
I'm going to skip the GC, since almost 30 riders sit within 15 seconds of Levi Leipheimer, who still leads the overall by more than a second over Slipstream's Jason Donald and 5 seconds over Ben Jacques-Maynes of Priority Health.
The neutral that wasn't
So race officials at the Tour of California made a decision yesterday to neutralize the finishing circuits of Santa Rosa after a big crash caused a massive pileup, isolating a number of highly placed riders, including race leader Levi Leipheimer of Discovery Channel, and 2nd-placed Jason Donald of Team Slipstream. Ken Conley at Spare Cycles found himself right on top of the crash, and got some great pictures of the pileup and the finish.
Over the last decade or so, the UCI has established a neutral zone at the end of races. Initially, this was set at 1 kilometer to ride, specifically targeting the sport's fairly common final-sprint crashes. Each time a big crash has affected a race a little bit outside the current neutral zone distance, the sport has expanded it, first to 2 kilometers, then to 3 km, where it stands now. But yesterday's crash didn't happen at 3.2 kilometers to ride -- it was at nearly 10 kilometers, when some Bott's dots relocated a rider's wheel, causing a chain reaction in the field.
Chris at Podium Cafe offered up a satirical news story, calling it a “military-style assault” by Discovery Channel and adding by way of commentary:
Seriously. Neutralizing the race from 9km. It's just February, but this is not cool.
CyclingNews talked to the Chief Commissaire, Fabrizio Darnellio, who Kirsten Robbins reports initiated discussion of extending the neutral zone:
"Due to the size of the crash and the large number of riders that went down in the crash, our panel of commissaries made a decision to award all the riders with the time of the winner," Jim Birrell, race director said. "I think it was a fair decision and the right decision."
PodiumCafe reports that Allan Davis, Leipheimer's Discovery Channel teammate, would have assumed the race lead, barring the judge's decision, but at least one story at VeloNews suggested that Ben Jacques-Maynes had made the break and would have assumed race leadership, and the CyclingNews story confirms that. Jacques-Maynes and his DS at Priority Health took a fairly high road. Here's the rider:
"Thinking that I was going to be in the leader's jersey is an honour and a dream but that is counting chickens before the eggs hatch," Jacques Maynes said. "The commissaries ruling is sticking and we just have to live with that. We have a lot more racing and my team is motivated to keep going and to race our hearts out. I'm trying not to pay attention to all these details and get on with the job at hand."
Jacques Maynes adds, "I'm not in a position to question the commissaries and I just gave to live with it keep racing my bike. I'm paid to pedal and they are paid to make those decisions. It is hard to swallow that but that is what we have to do."
CN also reports that no protest was lodged. David Zabriskie's crash was apparently out on the road, before the race entered Santa Rosa. Head and wrist injuries forced him out of the race, but X-rays came up clear.
For me, I think the decision is counter to the traditions of bike racing. I've always been a fan of Leipheimer's, but it rubbed me the wrong way to hear him, in a post-race interview, talking about how he had come out and “defended the leader's jersey” in his hometown. I hope Discovery Channel didn't pull any strings to manipulate the finish.
Update: The New York Times weighs in, with quotes from Erik Breukink and Bjarne Riis. Also Leipheimer, who “said he did not hear complaints from fellow riders.”
February 19, 2007
Graeme Brown takes Cali Stage 1
Rabobank's Graeme Brown led a down-under charge into Santa Rosa today, outsprinting New Zealand's Greg Henderson of T-Mobile and fellow Australian Allan Davis of Discovery Channel.
A crash in the field with about 6 miles to ride led to chaos in the lead group. Santa Rosa resident Levi Leipheimer, the race leader, and Team Slipstream's Jason Donald both were involved in the crash during a downtown circuit of Santa Rosa.
Leipheimer initially finished 35 seconds back of the stage winners, but judges decided to neutralize the finishing laps of Santa Rosa, and therefore the crash, which leaves him in the race lead.
Other team leaders may have been caught out behind the crash. CyclingNews reports that Dave Zabriskie was involved in the crash, and sent to the hospital; he apparently didn't finish the stage.
More as it comes in. Looks like the perfect place to plug the Vs. coverage at 10 Eastern.
Tour of California Stage 1 underway
The usual sources have live coverage:
February 18, 2007
Flickr'ing the ToC prologue
Ken Conley checks in, with my favorites, I think, being this shot of Leipheimer passing a shreiking bright banner. and this one of Stuart O'Grady, suffering up Telegraph Hill.
Update Monday a.m.:
More from Flickr: Great shot of Hincapie showing the colors by 1115; Saul Raisin working the crowd, by on2wheelz (who has dozens of good shots); and just look at all of Ken Conley's pics (warmup set/race set): I especially love Jason Donald with the big burrito, the Angel, and this shot of Chris Baldwin.
Leipheimer ekes out ToC prologue win
Jason Donald of Team Slipstream (formerly TIAA-CREF) shocked the field with a 4:50.497 on the course up to Coit Tower.
Donald was 7th to start the prologue, and as the riders got more and more established, nobody could top his early time. Discovery Channel's George Hincapie rode a 4:57 and change, US time trial champion Dave Zabriskie finished in 4:59.169, and even current world time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara could manage only 4:55.098.
The last man to go was Levi Leipheimer, who won the inaugural Tour of California prologue last year, but in 4:53. Riding this year as the leader of Discovery Channel's squad, Leipheimer streaked through the course in 4:49.050, to take the first leader's jersey of the race. He'll wear it into his hometown, Santa Rosa, during tomorrow's stage.
1) Levi Leipheimer, US, Discovery Channel, 4:49.050
2) Jason Donald, US, Slipstream-Chipotle, + 1.447
3) Ben Jacques-Maynes, US, Priority Health-Bissel, +5.176
4) Rory Sutherland, Australia, Health Net-Maxxis, +5.649
5) Fabian Cancellara, Switzerland, Team CSC, +6.048
6) Adam Hansen, Australia, T-Mobile, +6.55
7) Mauricio Ardila, Colombia, Rabobank, +7.86
8) Hilton Clarke, Australia, Navigators, +7.91
9) George Hincapie, US, Discovery Channel, +8.19
10) Ben Day, Australia, Navigators, +8.25
Jason Donald, 2nd on the day, is a climbing specialist out of Colorado, and had Phil Liggett doubting the race timekeepers during the broadcast. His 2 previous wins were a stage at the Tour of the Gila and the Colorado state criterium championship.
Priority Health-Bissel's Ben Jacques-Maynes rounds out the podium.
Posted by Frank Steele on February 18, 2007 in Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Cancellara, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Top Stories, Tour of California, Tour of California 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Photographing a bike race
Ken over at kwc.org wrote a terrific how-to on shooting bike races, and there's no arguing with results: He got some awesome shots from last year's Tour of California, and from the Sea Otter Classic. With the Tour of California underway, I thought I would expand on Ken's guide.
Ken nails down a lot of the technical questions you've got to address, many of which are similar to any high-speed sports shooting: Use the fastest glass (lens with a low numerical f-stop) you can afford, use manual focus when the camera's autofocus can't keep up, and mind your depth of field.
I've also been trying to figure this out. The pictures I got at the 2005 Tour de Georgia were, as a group, a big disappointment. At that point, I was using two point-and-shoots, a Casio Exilim EX-Z30 and a Nikon Coolpix 880. The worst thing of all was the shutter lag. I got into what I thought were great positions for a lot of shots, but I only got a handful of good shots, and plenty like this.
That was enough to drive me into the arms of the Nikon D70 (since replaced by the Nikon D80, and very similar to the less expensive Nikon D40). The DSLR has made a huge difference in the technical quality of my photos, and I know, given more money, what I can do to improve that quality even more. A big advantage of the digital SLRs over most of the point-and-shoots is their ability to shoot continuously at 2, 3 or up to 8 shots per second. If you're using this mode, keep in mind that you'll get faster repeats if you're using “JPEG Fine” than if you're shooting in RAW mode, since the camera can write the smaller JPEG files faster. If you're stuck using a point and shoot, try to shoot pictures of the riders before and after the race, or shoot to limit the speed of the action (from in front of the field instead of beside, for instance).
Beside the technical consideration, there are a lot of logistical issues to consider about shooting a bike race.
For instance, there's only one point in the whole length of a bike race where you're guaranteed to get a good picture that tells a story, and that's the finish line. The quintessential cycling shot awaits, of the triumphant rider, arms raised, with a buzzing, colorful peloton just behind. The downside: dozens of other people will get that same shot, including pros set up with tripods just past the finish line. You, on the other hand, will probably have to hand-hold or use a monopod in the heavy crowds around the finish. Pedco's UltraPod is another option, providing a Velcro strap that can be cinched around crowd barriers or street signs to provide a steady mount.
So it's key to think about where you want to set up. One thing that's awesome about bike racing is the accessibility of riders. Rider warmups before time trial stages are typically wide open to the public, with riders set up next to the team RV, and riders will often work an autograph line on the way to or from the rider sign-in before each day's stage. After the stage, the day's winners and the race overall leaders have to hang around for the award presentation, and you can frequently shoot portraits and shots of riders with the fans. Typically, organizers will set up a cordoned-off area for the pros at the actual presentation, but with a 200mm zoom you usually can shoot the podium from outside the velvet rope.
Time trials are fabulous, since each rider will come by in turn. One tip I've used a couple of times: Riders start out from an elevated start house, ride down a ramp into a fenced-off chute, then usually turn as they exit the fenced-off area. It's often hard to get a good spot around the starthouse and storm fencing, but usually a lot more open as the riders exit the chute. That's where I got this shot of Lance Armstrong at the 2005 Tour de Georgia (still with the point-and-shoot). You'll have a couple of hours of riders coming through every 2 minutes or so, which gives you a great chance to get your settings dialed in. Since the race is on public roads, you can usually get there early, with a load of gear, and set up a tripod and a cooler. It can become almost mechanical, but there are still surprises. At the 2006 Tour de Georgia time trial over Lookout Mountain, I got a good spot on one of the day's toughest hills, and was set up on the left side of the road as riders came through. For some reason, though, the strongest riders -- Zabriskie, Danielson, and Landis -- were among a small minority of riders riding in the center or right-hand side of the road, so my shots of those three key riders were neither as tight nor as sharp as of riders before and after them.
Frequently, road races finish with a loop around a downtown area, so you get multiple cracks at the action. Corners are nice, since the riders are leaned over and you can get a lot of different angles by positioning yourself inside or outside the corner.
A stage takes as much as 6 or 7 hours to ride, so you can often get more than one look at the riders, bumping up your chance of catching an important breakaway, an interesting backdrop, or a great fan shot. Make sure you've got maps of the area, and plan out how you will get from shooting location A to shooting location B. Generally, stage races provide a “race log” that estimates when the riders will reach each intersection at different average speeds. These also help you estimate what's going on in the peloton: If they come in behind schedule, the group is taking it easy. On the other hand, you can easily find your way from Point A to Point B blocked by a breakaway that closes the road, keeping you from making a planned rendezvous with the riders.
If you find yourself chasing the racing on a regular basis, you might consider a portable radio scanner. With one, you can listen in to race radio as race organizers track breakaway riders, road closures, and unexpected problems.
I've only gone to one mountaintop finish, when Floyd Landis shadowed Tom Danielson to the top of Brasstown Bald last year. My wife and I went to the top with hours to spare, picked out a spot right along the course, and by the time the leaders showed up, the crowd was so thick that I couldn't get a shot of the showdown, and had to settle for action shots of lower-placed riders and the leaders at the presentation. And keep your eyes and ears open: That woman with the umbrellas and the shawl could be your race leader's mother.
A bike race is a great opportunity to try out a new lens (or body). In most cities, there are companies that rent out pro-level photography equipment by the day, week, or month. Day rates typically range from 2 to 5 percent of the purchase price, or $10-$100 per day, with discounts for weekly or monthly rental typically available. Here in Atlanta, for instance, we've got Professional Photo Resources. The reason the pros use multiple bodies is to keep from having to change lenses under fire; they can have a supertelezoom on one body and a wide angle on another.
The cool kids at Flickr say “closer is better”, preferring stuff like this and this, but follow your bliss. I like this shot from last year's Stage 6 better than its tack-sharp equivalent, and this pedestrian peloton shot because it may be the last time I ever see Floyd Landis race competitively.
February 14, 2007
Tour of California rosters released
I am going to hate missing the Tour of California. With the obvious exception of Floyd Landis, fans will get to see pretty much every American racing in the ProTour, and many of the world's best riders will be racing in the US for the first time.
The race, kicking off Sunday, will feature the winners of 4 stages and the prologue of the 2006 Tour de France: Thor Hushovd, who took the prologue and Stage 21, CSC's Jens Voigt, Stage 13, Michael (Spider) Rasmussen, who dominated the Alpine climbs and won Stage 16 and the king of the mountains, and Matteo Tosatto, who won Stage 18.
You want Americans? They got 'em: George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Tom Danielson, and Jason McCartney from Discovery Channel; Dave Zabriskie, Bobby Julich, and Christian Vandevelde from Team CSC; Freddie Rodriguez and Chris Horner from Predictor-Lotto; Aaron Olson, now with T-Mobile; and of course the US-based Pro Continental and Continental teams, mostly populated by US riders.
You want ProTour royalty? They got 'em: World champion Paolo Bettini, world time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara, reigning Giro champion Ivan Basso, and former world TT champion Michael Rogers.
There are also lots of old faces on new teams, as with Michael Barry, Greg Henderson and Jakob Piil, all now with T-Mobile, Juan-José Haedo, dominant in US sprints last year, and now racing for CSC, and Henk Vogels, now racing for the Continental Toyota-United squad.
Also, injured Credit Agricole rider Saul Raisin, whose recovery continues, plans to ride each stage noncompetitively and visit with fans at the start and finish. He's also promoting a ride March 31st in Dalton, Ga. called Raisin Hope.
Should be a heck of a race.
Posted by Frank Steele on February 14, 2007 in Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Cancellara, Fred Rodriguez, George Hincapie, Igor Astarloa, Jean-Patrick Nazon, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Paolo Bettini, Saul Raisin, Stuart O'Grady, Thor Hushovd, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Tour of California, Tour of California 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)
February 12, 2007
Vs. will offer same-day Tour of California coverage
Versus, formerly Outdoor Life Network, will be offering same-day coverage of the Amgen Tour of California, kicking off this Sunday.
The network will typically air stage coverage at 10 or 11 p.m. Weekend stages will run for two hours, from 5-7 p.m., with an hour-long rerun at midnight Eastern.
Coverage will feature the network's usual cycling commentators, Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen, and Bob Roll.
Giro organizers move further from UCI with '07 team selections
I guess the Grand Tour organizers really mean it; RCS today announced the Giro's team lineup, and they've left out ProTour team 19, Unibet.com.
RCS also initiated a new system, where three ProTour teams (Caisse d'Epargne, Gerolsteiner, and Rabobank) have the option to race or not race in the Giro and Milan-San Remo.
All 18 pre-Unibet.com ProTour teams are invited. If all three option teams choose not to race, then RCS will choose 7 wild-card teams from these eight teams on February 16:
Acqua & Sapone
Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia expialidocious
If the three option teams choose to race, the RCS will name only 4 wild-card teams to the final race field.
For Milan-San Remo, the same rules apply, but RCS will select six to nine wild-cards (depending on ProTour commitments) from the above list plus Ireland's Tenax-Salmilano, for 24 total teams.
The Grand Tour organizers and the UCI have been feuding over the ProTour, which required all teams to race in every event, and required race organizers to set aside 18, and now 19, places for ProTour teams. RCS, ASO, and Unipublic prefer more wild cards.
Landis book expected before '07 Tour
Associated Press reports that 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis will publish a book before the Tour kicks off this July.
Landis, facing possible disqualification for a high testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio, is expected to publish Positively False: The Real Story of How I Won the Tour de France in late June, addressing his childhood as a Mennonite, his racing career, and his efforts to clear his name and return to racing.
Last week, Landis agreed not to race in France this year, and he faces a May hearing in front of the US Anti-Doping Agency and June proceedings from AFLD, the French equivalent. He's also 4.5 months into recovery from hip replacement surgery.
The book's available for preorder at Amazon; linked at right.
DP handicaps Giro wild cards
Later today, Giro d'Italia organizers should announce the four wildcard teams for this year's race.
DailyPeloton.com offers their analysis of the 7 squads vying for those 4 spots: Astaña, Tinkoff, Serramenti PVC, Panaria Navigare, Acqua & Sapone, Unibet.com, and Barloworld. That's the order the DP staff puts the teams' chances.
I'm going to go out on a limb, and pick Unibet.com to make the Giro alongside three favorites Astaña, Tinkoff, and Serramenti. That would be a gesture of goodwill by the GT organizers and could kickstart discussions between the UCI and the tour promoters. Then again, I thought American voters would see through the Bush administration in '04, so what do I know?
SF Chron offers in-depth Leipheimer profile
Dorsey Kindler offers up a terrific profile of Levi Leipheimer with a week until the Tour of California kicks off in San Francisco.
The article spends a lot of time on Leipheimer's support system, wife and former pro rider Odessa Gunn.
It seems like a make-or-break year for Leipheimer, at 33. He won the Dauphiné Libéré last year, and was, in my opinion, the strongest man at the US national championships in Greenville. He rode instead for teammate-to-be George Hincapie, with an eye toward Hincapie paying him back this season, only to see the team sign defending Giro champion Ivan Basso in November. He's got a string of Top 10s at the Tour de France, without ever making it onto the podium. If he's going to win a GT, this needs to be the year.
Other Tour of California content:
February 11, 2007
IOC "censures" Dick Pound for Armstrong comments
The L.A. Times reports that the International Olympic Committee chided World Anti-Doping Agency head Dick Pound on Friday for comments he made suggesting that Lance Armstrong used EPO during the 1999 Tour.
In 2005, when L'Equipe claimed to have cross-matched rider urine samples from the 1999 Tour against an experimental study reportedly performed to calibrate the EPO test, Pound jumped on the results to claim that Armstrong had used EPO during that Tour.
He did so despite the fact that the samples were provided to WADA on the express condition that they couldn't be used in any disciplinary action.
The IOC statement reportedly:
endorsed the ethics commission's carefully worded finding that Pound's public remarks "could have been regarded as likely to impugn the probity" of Armstrong. The remarks, it added, were imprudent in light of the Olympic charter's goal of "a spirit of friendship, solidarity, and fair play" within the movement.
Armstrong filed a complaint back in 2005, and the IOC has jurisdiction because Pound is an ex officio member as WADA chief. The IOC stopped short of finding an “incriminating element” in Pound's statements, “but noted that he had refused to respond to its requests that he respond to Armstrong's complaint.”
I've looked, but can't find the announcement on the official IOC website.
Armstrong: “Armstrong called Pound ‘a clown’ and an ‘absolute disaster when it comes to giving interviews.’ ”
“Lance Armstrong has probably killed a Brazilian rain forest with all the paper he has used to file his complaints against me,” he said. “He’s gone bananas.”
“He keeps alive this whole thing that he should be trying to fade away, that a French accredited laboratory found that he had six positive samples for EPO in 1999,” he said. “Maybe he thinks if he huffs and he puffs, all of this will go away, but it won’t.”
February 09, 2007
Discovery Channel's '07 season to be its last
The Discovery Channel team will spend at least some of its 2007 season seeking a new title sponsor, after a management shakeup at the network, according to Sal Ruibal at USA Today.
With Monday's departure of Discovery Network president Billy Campbell, a longtime supporter of the team, the network decided not to extend a 3-year contract that started in the 2005 season. That's when Lance Armstrong won his 7th consecutive Tour de France. The team was previously sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service, which left the sport after negative publicity about the cost of its team sponsorship.
The AP quoted a Discovery Channel statement, which said the company “decided to aggressively shift our focus and resources to support our core business goals and objectives.”
With US national champion George Hincapie, defending Giro champion Ivan Basso, Levi Leipheimer, Yaroslav Popovych, and Tom Danielson, Tailwind Sports general manager Bill Stapleton should be well positioned to find a replacement sponsor.
On the other hand, the team has traditionally been sponsored by U.S. companies, which may be less likely to sponsor the team with Armstrong out of competition. The sport's continuous doping scandals may also discourage sponsors.
Armstrong and Crow: We're not back together
Sheryl Crow and Lance Armstrong have gone to some lengths to deny the pair are back together, after Crow stayed in the same hotel in Solvang during a visit with the Discovery Channel squad last week.
February 08, 2007
Outside interviews Tyler Hamilton on suspension, return
John Bradley of Outside Magazine has an interview with 2004 Olympic TT champion Tyler Hamilton in the March 2007 issue. Outside doesn't post content from the magazine until it comes off the newsstand, but they've posted outtakes from the interview at the link above.
I'll try to remember to link to the interview when it's available, as well.
Landis wins delay of AFLD hearing
Landis faces a 2-year suspension from racing if he cannot explain a urine test that found an elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone during the 2006 Tour de France, which Landis won. The AFLD will revisit the Landis case in late June, after the USADA hearing, which is now scheduled to begin May 14th.
It seems a small concession from Landis, who has no team contract and can't race until the USADA decision, but his statement specifically rules out any chance he will race in the 2007 Tour de France.
"He understood perfectly that if he didn't act today, we would start the procedure immediately," [AFLD president Pierre] Bordry said. "We will let Landis defend himself as he wishes before the USADA."
Includes a translation of the full AFLD statement.
February 07, 2007
Hincapie's "Stars and Stripes" frame
So U.S. road champ George Hincapie will be celebrating the win in style all year, on this gorgeous Trek/Disco Team 5500. The photo is by Flickr user ebbe, who shot the team January 23rd. Follow the link to see more from his photo shoot.
The circus comes back to town
So the European racing season kicked off today, with the perfect winner, Jeremy Hunt of the ? and the Mysterians team. Pro wrestling doesn't have such improbable story lines. Telemundo telenovelas don't even have such improbable story lines.
I mean, what are the odds that in the very race where Tyler Freaking Hamilton his-own-self came back to the peloton, we would have a team raising questions 2 feet tall?
These Unibet.com guys are the perfect poster boys for the pro posse: They just dropped Carlos Quesada, apparently over his possible role in Operacíon Puerto, the scandal that just won't die. Meanwhile, the UCI and the Grand Tours are fighting over who gets to run the races. The UCI wants to add teams to the ProTour, and the Grand Tours want the flexibility to invite some wild cards. The puck getting slapped around by the UCI and the Grand Tours? That's right: Unibet.com.
They've been informed that the ASO (organizer of the Tour de France) can't make room for them at Paris-Nice, and that they're not welcome at the Vuelta a España. So today at the GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise, conflict turned to comedy as race officials told the team they couldn't wear their team jerseys, since they advertise a gambling company beside the French state-run lottery and casinos, in possible violation of French law. This led to the clown costumes that Jeremy Hunt wore to victory today.
And let's not even talk about Landis, Ullrich, or Basso. Or Pereiro's (and dozens of others') Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).
Next up, the Etoile de Besseges.
February 05, 2007
Graham Watson to kick off Boulder photo exhibit with visit next week
Cycling's best-known photographer, Graham Watson, will kick off an exhibit of his work in Boulder, Colorado next week.
Watson, who has been photographing the Tour de France for almost 30 years, will sign books and posters at Boulder Cycle Sport Thursday, Feb. 15th from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., in advance of the exhibit opening next door at Amante Coffee at 7:30.
The exhibit will run for three weeks, through March 9th, and feature more than 30 of Watson's best photos of European road racing.
The event is free and open to the public.