It’s always a kick seeing pros ride a route you’re familiar with and have ridden yourself. You can’t see their gearing, but you know from their cadence that they’re just ripping up sections where you’re lucky to stay upright.
It was that way on Bonny Doon at the Amgen Tour of California today. The riders already had several climbs and 80 or so miles under their belts. To see them pushing the tall gears up a punishing, relentless climb like “Bonny Doom” — as we called it back in the day — was an inspiration to behold.
David Zabriskie (Garmin) won in the final sprint but probably didn’t deserve it. Taking nothing away from his strategy, which obviously worked, the guy didn’t pull his share on the climb up Doon. The cameras made it clear he was dogging it, to the point of even drawing the frustration of Levi Leipheimer (Radio Shack) and Michael Rogers (HTC), his two breakmates. Perhaps the veteran was simply biding his time, knowing whoever had the gas would take the prize at the end. All three of these guys are time trial champions, so they know how to optimize energy.
Lance looked strong but not in Tour shape yet. It’s obvious he isn’t pushing the issue, mainly working to keep teammate Leipheimer’s chances alive.
Apart from that, we’re wondering what happened to our man Andy Schleck. He got dropped on the Bonny Doon climb and that was the last we heard. His name doesn’t even show up in the final GC. He can’t have abandoned? [Update: Turns out Andy had stomach problems and in any case isn’t forcing the issue as he aims for Tour de France fitness.]
In any case, it was a great day of racing, marred only by the inexplicable decision of Versus to cut away from the final minutes of the stage to the useless intro of the hockey playoffs. Rude, really rude. See the VeloNews comments queue and Twitter complaints, including one from none other than Lance Armstrong.