The Circus Comes to Town

With dozens of motorcycle CHP out ahead, dozens of team cars behind and over 100 pro cyclists in between, the Tour of California bicycle race working its way from the Bay Area to Los Angeles this week has all the elements of a traveling circus. We checked it out today as the race made its way up Mt. Hamilton, the most difficult climb the race will encounter all week.  Seeing the race was great, but getting to ride up and down incredibly scenic Mt. Hamilton with the road closed to most motor vehicles was even better.

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Leaving San Jose behind as the climb begins.

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Bundled up spectators (the temp. was 33 degrees at the summit) write the names of their favorite riders on the road with chalk while waiting for the race to arrive.

 tylerhamilton.jpgPrevented from entering the race due to being implicated in a European drug scandal, Tyler Hamilton, Santiago Botero and Oscar Sevilla are out for a “training ride” about 10 minutes ahead of the race. We’d like to see the sport cleaned up too, but barring riders from racing who haven’t actually been found guilty of anything or sanctioned doesn’t seem like a very good plan. If race organizers think they can “restore credibility” to the sport by making up the rules on an ad hoc basis, then the sport’s in worse trouble than we thought.

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Just as he did so often for Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France,  Jose Luis Rubiera forces the lead group to climb at a pace punishing enough to put his team captain Levi Leipheimer’s rivals into the red.

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British national champ and reformed drug cheat, David Millar, rides in 3rd wheel in the lead group.

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U.S. champ Leipheimer rides comfortably in the lead group while a Rabobank rider suffers on his wheel.

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Still the most popular man in cycling, super sprinter Mario Cippollini climbs at a comparatively relaxed pace in the grupetto.        
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