Friday, February 20, 2009

Tour of Cali and ....

... Thomas Peterson, what else?

You had to know I'd be back at you with more Tom Peterson stuff, right? Well, we'll get to Tom in a minute.

Nice to see the riders finally getting to bask in some California sunshine yesterday, I'm glad for them and frankly I was about at the boilover point with all the whining about the 'brutal' conditions. As for that crappy weather in the earlier stages, it is clear that perspective more than anything else determines how you see riding in adverse conditions. Here’s Tom Boonen’s take (From cyclingnews dot com):

“Even though the Belgian is zero from two on the sprint stages, his trip to California is not all lost, as the first few days gave him good training for the races he is really targetting. "The early weather in this race helped me a lot [for the Classics]. I feel great now after racing two or three days in the rain!" So, the take home message here could be: riding in crappy weather is just great training for riding well in crappy weather. (Something I already knew).

Following my ‘Home boys’, Thomas Peterson and Svein Tuft, here’s the news:

Results, end of Stage 4:
T.P. #23 +5:56
S.T. #47 +15:13
Note Tom P stands @ #4 in the best young rider competition @ + 3:58

Here is where Tom can really impress: Hammer the ITT and move yourself up a couple places. Other than Mt Palomar, there are few remaining opportunities. I have 'high hopes' for Tom on Mt Palomar (Get it, HIGH HOPES ... Mt Palomar?) Anyway I'm planning for Tom to finish inside top ten. I realize I'm out on a limb here but hey, there is no joy in predicting the status quo.

I think we all know that todays stage 5, Solvang ITT is likely to be a tipping point in this race. If it was only a speculation at the outset, one look at the top ten standings today makes it a near certainty. It is impressive that the top 16 riders are all within a minute of each other, or said another way, they are all less than a minute down in GC.

Here is a tantalizing scenario (that I hope does not develop!):

Say Armstrong (currently sitting fourth @ +0.30”) finishes ahead of Levi Leipheimer in the ITT with a reasonably comfortable lead. Is he expected to revert to the role of gregario for Levi? (Gregario: Italian for domestique, you decide which sounds more attractive, speaks volumes about the two cultures I think) Or is LA now free to race for the win? What if LA is comfortably ahead of Levi but the person lying third is only a second or two down on Levi, so that there is little chance that Levi can overtake the lead without risk of mystery guest #3 taking a sprint bonus or two and thus moving into the lead? I’m not hoping for that much drama, but with such a tight field of great racers crowding the ‘sharp end of the peloton” as Phil might say, it does cause one to imagine. HINT: Keep an eye on Dave Z, and watch for those sprint time bonuses.

Anyway, I know there are probably a lot of folks who might ask "What's the point of an early season tour in California?" Well, for hard bitten bike geeks interested in racing, this years edition makes that the dumb question of the week!

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