Tuesday, February 19, 2008

ToC Stage 2 - Arnold In The House

Stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California traveled east from Santa Rosa to the state capital of Sacramento under mostly cloudy, often rainy skies and cool temperatures. It’s a beautiful route with some difficult climbs before and after crossing the Napa Valley leading to a long slightly downhill run to SacTown. I wish I was making a joke there, but people actually refer to the state capital as “SacTown.” Sometimes you can’t make this stuff up.

Anyway, I thought this would be a good opportunity to tap into the deep reservoir of humor that is the Governor of California. I am speaking of none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger, bodybuilder, actor, politician…comedian. Now let’s recap the action of Stage 2 with the help of a few select Governator soundbites.

“The worst I can be is the same as everybody else. I hate that.”

This quote goes out to Scott Nydam for his lengthy solo effort for much of the stage. Following teammate Jack-Stew’s lead from the day before, the BMC rider built up a lead of 15 minutes before being reeled in outside of Sacramento. Even though the BMC kits are about as plain as you can get, this team is showing a lot of style in the first couple of stages so far.

“I just use my muscles as a conversation piece, like someone walking a cheetah down 42nd Street.”

This is one of my all-time favorite Ahhnold quotes and seems fitting for the Rock Racing advertisement being aired during the Versus coverage. The commercial has some snazzy music and a lot of quick-cut editing showing six RR riders in their green and black kits (which are strangely reminiscent of the Cobra Kai skeleton costumes). Ironically, the cameras focus largely on ToC/UCI Blacklist victims Tyler Hamilton, Santiago Botero, Oscar Sevilla and Kayle Leogrande. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t be surprised if this whole fiasco has gotten RR and Michael Ball more publicity than they would have had with a full roster of riders.

This quote also reminds of the rumor that Mario Cipollini actually owns/owned a puma. If anyone can verify this for me, I would appreciate it. I’m not sure what the deal is with that at all but I can totally see Cipo cruising down the street with a puma.

“It was the most difficult decision in my life - except the one in 1978 when I decided to get a bikini wax.”

The man who once went by the name “Arnold Strong” was talking here about his decision to run for Governator, but this could easily have been what Jonny Sundt or Steven Cozza were saying to themselves after giving up on their respective efforts to chase down Nydam in the break. They could have gotten some good publicity if they had latched on.

One of the things that casual fans may not appreciate is the early race Break/Chase dynamic that often takes place before the TV coverage starts. The split-second decision to make and mark various early moves dictates the way the race will unfold and can turn an otherwise anonymous rider into a star. At least until he gets swallowed up by the peloton.

“Money doesn't make you happy. I now have $50 million but I was just as happy when I had $48 million.”

As the race courses through Napa Valley along the Silverado Trail, there is probably someone in one of the surrounding homes that is uttering this same statement right now. Or perhaps it is being repeated by one of the numerous millionaire team owners currently underwriting the sport in this country. Thanks guys, you could have spent that dough elsewhere and I for one, am thankful that cycling is the beneficiary.

“This guy owes me bacon now . . . you can't have egg without bacon.” - (after being pelted with an egg at a political rally)

I can’t really think of a good race reference for this quote but I also can’t think of a better reaction to getting pelted with an egg at a political rally. Are we sure that wasn’t scripted?

“Everything I have ever done in my life has always stayed. I've just added to it . . . but I will not change. Because when you are successful and you change, you are an idiot.”

I want to be clear that I am not calling anyone an idiot, but this quote goes out to Mark Cavendish who seems to be having an odd Tour so far. He was super-animated in the bonus sprints of Stage 1 and then somehow failed to make the final split at the finish. Then he led out the sprint for Ciolek in Stage 2 with such fury that he gapped the entire field (success) and then just sat up about 30 meters from the line, thinking that his leadout job was done (change).

“I know that if you leave dishes in the sink, they get sticky and hard to wash the next day.”

This quote is a subtle reminder from Arnold to all of the team mechanics to get busy with those bikes.

“I would rather be Governor of California than own Austria.”

All things considered, I would rather be Tom Boonen than Governor of California. The big Belgian made up for the misplaced efforts of his Quick-Step teammates in the Stage 1 finish and handily took the sprint victory in downtown Sacramento ahead of Haussler and the amazing Mario Cipollini. It’s always big news when Tomeke wins but I think Cipo’s podium finish was even more impressive.

“I saw a woman wearing a sweatshirt with Guess on it. I said, Thyroid problem?”

Speaking of clothing, Tyler Farrar of Slipstream/Chipotle p/b H30 took enough time bonuses to take the yellow jersey from Fabian Cancellara. Things continue to look good for the Argyle crew and Farrar may very well be stepping it up a level this year. It will be virtually impossible to hang on to the lead after the climbs of Stage 3, but Farrar and Slipstream have done an excellent job so far.

“Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer.”

I can’t possibly expand on this one. See you tomorrow. Arnold Out.

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