May 20, 2011

Stage 4 of Tour of California in (mostly) pictures the cancellation of the first stage and the shortening of the second, this one was going to be epic, and it didn't disappoint. The rides would race from Livermore into San Jose via Mines Rd., over the backside of Hamilton and up the evil Sierra Rd. to the mountaintop finish. I rode this route within DMD just a few weeks ago, so I know exactly what they had ahead of them, though I can certainly appreciate the fact that riding this route is not quite the same thing as racing it. Crowds lined Sierra Rd. to watch the finish and many familiar faces were in attendance, too many to list, in fact. 

Dragging myself + ~10lb backpack up the evil Sierra Rd. [Source]
Incidentally, in case you are curious which is tougher: going up Sierra Rd. with a 10lb backpack full of beer, sandwiches, schwag, some warm wear and other stuff, or going up it without all that stuff but after having ridden 155 miles and climbed 15k. I have to say that the latter is much, much tougher.

Chris Horner of Radio Shack smiling, or suffering as he absolutely kills it up this climb.
Levi Lepheimer and Ryder Hesjedal were hot on Horner's heels, but not for long.
And look at who's chasing them. A. Schleck, R. Southerland, T. Van Garderen and T. Danielson (I think). Some of you might also recognize some faces in the background.

I think the expression on this man's face shows just how much they all suffered up this climb.
Big George Hincapie wasn't too far behind, but that was definitely not his day. I don't know who that SaxoBank rider is, but cool inc!
Some more suffering faces. There were many.
Oh, and who's that there in third position? It's Jens Voigt! Turns out he rode that thing with a broken scaphoid bone from an earlier crash. That's the bone on the inside of your thumb, for the non-doctors in the audience.
Two things here: one, this BMC rider looks like he just crawled out of a coal mine; two, I would have totally slugged that speedo wearing douche. Actually, someone almost did, I just don't have that shot.
Looks like Paul Mach of Bissell (please correct me if I'm wrong).
And there's the three time world champ Oscar Freire.
And there's everyone else who couldn't (or didn't have to) make it up Sierra Rd. as fast.
There's Taylo Phinney and Ben Jacques-Maynes in the front row. Or is that Andy? How do you tell the twins apart?
And there they go!

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