Okay, it is officially “normal” at the Tour of California now. After days of rain, crashes and breakaways the sun has returned and Mark Cavendish is racking up stage wins. With a second victory in as many days Captain Cavman made his boss proud as he took the “hometown” honors just up the road from Bob Stapleton’s house.
While the stage played out basically as expected, a breakaway of six riders did their best to mess up the formula and stayed away for most of the day. Matthew Crane took the Most Courageous jersey back to the Jelly Belly bus for his efforts in the break and got some solid publicity for the Bean Team. As the longest-running sponsor in North American racing, it’s great to see the return on investment for the NorCal company and Director Danny Van Haute.
It was also great to see that there was far less carnage on the roads of California than we have seen over the last few days. After the likes of Kirchen, Freire and Nydam were hauled off in ambulances yesterday, the field stayed more upright in Stage 5 and enjoyed near-perfect conditions for most of the race. It’s been a pretty hectic event for the medical staff up to this point so hopefully Stage 5 bodes well for the remainder of the ToC.
Viewing the finish in person, it was clear that Captain Cavman and his Columbia crew were not going to be denied. What was not clear upon viewing a replay of the finale, was whether MC the Hammer was pointing to the team logos on his kit…or well…something else as he crossed the finish line. Maybe his arms were tired or something but all I know is that the hands were pointing pretty low in relation to the Columbia-High Road logos. Not sure about gesturing at your junk for a post-up victory salute but I guess when you win as much as the Teen Wolf of bike racing, you can assume a little creative license.
Again, despite the weird victory salute, team owner Bob Stapleton was very pleased after the race. I had a chance to chat briefly with The Man as we walked to the press conference and the moral of the story is that he is quite possibly the coolest owner in all of professional sports. As evidence of this, he actually held Cavendish’s bike and stayed for the duration of the comments almost sheepishly in the back of the room, graciously accepting congratulations and deflecting praise upon his team.
This may not seem like a big deal at first but can you imagine the owner of an MLB team shagging fly balls or assisting the players in any way other than signing their checks? But Stapleton really seems to care about his riders and never seems to come off like a multi-millionaire owner of a professional sport team. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with him on a number of occasions now and he is always exceedingly polite and friendly. So much so that I am almost willing to forgive him for going with the white shorts this year. Almost.
Anyway, now we head to Solvang where the forecast predicts 72 degrees and plenty of sunshine. The conditions will be perfect for Levi to keep his unblemished record on the spectacular course through the Santa Ynez valley and virtually lock up the overall. And again, tasty Danish pastries will be consumed by yours truly. I can’t wait.