Thursday, February 21, 2008

ToC Stage 4 - Big Brrr

Hey Folks, it's going to be a short recap of Stage 4 today because I just flew into Santa Barbara from Colorado and boy, are my arms tired. Yes, that is the worst joke in the world and yes, I said the exact same thing last year. But then again, it's been a long day and I just finished riding the TT course in Solvang, so I don't feel too guilty about it. Or maybe "windsurfed" would be a more accurate verb because "riding" seems too mellow.

Anyway, I really shouldn't complain because at least I didn't have to ride for 7 hours in the rain, wind and cold of Stage 4 from Seaside to San Luis Obispo like the rest of the ToC peloton. Despite the fact that this stage takes place over potentially the most spectacularly beautiful course in all of professional cycling, the weather in late February can be problematic to say the least. Jackson Stewart, who has managed to make it into almost every post I've written this week and was forced to abandon the race with hypothermia after being in an early breakaway would probably concur.

The weather also probably factored in the breakaway actually making it to the finish on a course that has historically ended in a field sprint into downtown SLO. Canadian Dominique Rollin got away from his companions to snatch the stage win from Big George Hincapie and give Toyota-United yet another ToC scalp. Even though I always like to see the domestic teams step up, it would have been nice for the High Road captain to get a victory in the team's new hometown.

Also adding to this sentiment is the fact that Toyota-United chose to bring exactly ZERO U.S. riders to the biggest race in America this year, which is something I am not entirely comfortable with. Now, I understand that the Southern Hemisphere guys are all flying right now but come on Pettyjohn and Morning Hair, where's the homegrown love?

Granted, I am certainly biased toward my boys Wherry and Baldwin and would have liked to see them in the race but I guess it's tough to argue when the team racks up a win like this. Rollin is one strong dude though and is likely to stand atop many a podium this year. I just hope that the U.S. riders don't take a back seat to all the foreigners rocking the TUP stars and stripes kit. I'm talking to you Chris x 2. Represent.

Levi maintained the overall lead and seems poised to defend last year's TT victory in Solvang but there are a bunch of fast guys breathing down his neck who could snatch the yellow jersey with a good ride and a bit of luck. Anything can happen in this event and riders that make it through cleanly will consider themselves very fortunate.

There have been a couple of changes to the course including a pretty tough climb right after the start but the route remains similar to last year. Culminating with the decisive climb through Ballard Canyon, there are ample places in this time trial where time can be gained or lost in massive chunks. If the weather is even close to as nasty as it was when I was out, there is going to be carnage on the roads surrounding this little Danish village. Between the rain, wind, road conditions, climbs and numerous technical could to be a wild, wild scene.

Let's all keep our fingers crossed for good weather on Friday. I didn't come back to Cali for Colorado temperatures. Come on, Mother a brother out.

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