Thursday, February 26, 2009

AToC Stage 8 - Running Diary vs VS

Hey Race Fans. Since most of you are probably going through a similar bit of post-AToC depression, please enjoy the following running diary from the VS coverage of Stage 8 from Rancho Bernardo to Escondido. This may be a bit free form and not exactly tense-specific in any way, so bear with me if I jump around a bit. I was traveling on Sunday and have read race reports but haven’t actually seen the coverage of this stage. Here we go:

- The shirts that Columbia made for the crew at VS are pretty lame. I know they make some good gear but don’t really understand why they put the TV guys in fishing shirts. Are those denim? Yeesh.

- What is the Over/Under on how many throat lozenges have been consumed by Liggett, Sherwen and Hummer this past week? With the way the veins were popping out of their necks during the pre-race chit-chat, you’d think these guys would be mute by now. I guess that’s what separates the Pros.

- Okay, Cozza and J-Mac go off immediately. Between Frischkorn and Cozza, I think I’ve seen Garmin do this 50 times in the last couple of years. The flag drop attack is not exactly the best way to win but it sure gets things moving. Not sure how many friends it wins you though.

- Good break with J-Mac, BJM, A-Schleck, Barredo and a few others. My favorite thing so far – Phil calling Barredo “Burrito.” Awesome. I still think about Barredo’s histrionics after getting dominated by Burghardt in the Tour last year. And I laugh and laugh.

- Bob Roll interviews VDV: Christian is actually a pretty funny guy and it’s good to see him being more relaxed and casual with the media. Although I guess it is probably easier to be mellow when you’re being interviewed by Bobke. Bad news about Svein dropping out, hopefully he will recover well and handle the Euro spring without any nagging injuries. Meatball is totally getting some face time behind VDV. Good job Mike. Hope you can parlay that into some action with the ladies.

- Commercials: Ugh, I really dislike the repetitive and feeble commercials during this coverage. What I do think is funny though, is this whole Uriah Faber WEC deal. The only reason I know this dudes name is because I have seen him fight a few times right before VS covers a bike race. He’s from NorCal, pretty much kills everyone in like 15 seconds and is actually the first cage fighter that I had seen with a TV commercial for some energy drink. But then the very next commercial is for the WEC coverage on VS and shows multiple angles of him getting absolutely cold-cocked and losing his title. Oops. Bad timing on that one Uriah. I still get a little sick every time I see that knockout. He looked like Mancebo in Stage 6.

- Bob Roll interviews Levi: I’m not sure but…I think LL may have hit the bong in the bus during the pre-race meeting/clam-bake. I have NEVER seen such a mellow, happy and glazed look on this guy before. Perhaps he really is NorCal to the core. Does he live in Santa Rosa or Humboldt? Jokes about crashing, Band of Brothers comments, glasses askew, perma-smile on the face, maybe growing a soul-patch…what flavor was that energy bar/brownie? Afternoon Delight?

- Mt. Palomar: This is a pretty wicked climb and it is not being made any easier by the presence of hundreds of idiots running alongside the riders. A dork with no peripheral vision in a beer bottle outfit, knobs in Speedo’s and helmets and just plain morons who want to get on TV were all out if full force on Palomar. I am embarrassed that these Donkey’s are out on the road and absolutely dread the time when one of them causes an accident. David Zabriskie was the only rider who I have heard mention how stupid some of the “runners” were and how sketchy they seemed as they fell down and tripped over each other up the mountain.

Here’s the thing – I’m a lover not a fighter. But…I swear, it should be totally fine for respectful spectators to “interfere” with all of these Jerks who interfere with the race. You can take that how you want it but a real fan, a real connoisseur of the sport, would not disrespect the racers by trespassing on their field of play. It sickens me that these fools are glorified by the television and photo coverage of the race. They should be arrested. And run over by the race caravan. There, I said it.

After personally watching Overcompensating Antler Boy nearly lobotomize dozens of people as he rode around downtown Solvang and seeing Big Hair and Ass Fan run right across the road in front of the riders on the Ballard Canyon climb – I officially call these fools out. They are giving American fans a bad name and are obviously more concerned with their own “CLOWN CELEBRITY” status than the race itself. For these CLOWNS to actually get suits made up (Antler guy is even so blatantly self-interested that he put a VS logo on his heinous skinsuit…how cheap and cheesy is that?) means that they actually consider themselves part of the race. Hey Dip Stick, YOU’RE NOT PART OF THE RACE!!!! THE RACERS ARE THE RACE!!!! YOU ARE A SELFISH CLOWN…GET OFF THE ROAD!!!!

- Back to the race: It looks like Enrique Gutierrez is back. I know his nickname was “The Buffalo” but being a Colorado alum, that always seemed like a negative association for my beloved mascot. Therefore, I think I will call him “Giro-doper I hardly knew #6.” Tim Johnson marks the move for OUCH and seems to be feeling the form after ending his cyclocross season a bit early to train for the road. The field is stringing out now but still staying together. It seems like they are wary of this climb and probably anticipating some fireworks in the last two or three miles of the grade.

- Still not really sure about the yellow Mavic kicks yet. Cool for cross, maybe not so much on the road. Sorry guys, they make white ones right?

- Has anyone commented on the “DEAD” written across the junk of the Rock Racing kits yet? I know it actually says “ROCKS NOT DEAD” but as Paco Mancebo displayed on Stage 1, it just looks like they have DEAD written on the chamois. That’s kind of harsh.

- Bob Roll interviews Lance: LA is cracking jokes, he really does seem pretty mellow. There is still a very deliberate and focused tone but I have been impressed with how much he seems to be enjoying the experience. Regardless of what you think of the man and his legacy, it’s always pleasant to see people that just like riding and racing their bikes. And Lance certainly seems to fall into that category. Cycling is fun and at the very least, LA is making it seem like an enjoyable and worthwhile endeavor. Nothing wrong with that. Especially if you work for Trek.

- VDV is taking it up a notch on the front of the rapidly dwindling peloton. These cats are not messing around anymore, as VDV seems to be laboring more than he was in the Alps and Pyrenees in July.

- Off goes Oscar Sevilla on what appears to be a ninja-bike. Maybe he’s trying to shed his baby-face image by rocking what appears to be Rick James’ hairdo underneath his helmet but unfortunately, it kind of just makes him look like one of the Mary Jane Girls. Sorry buddy, I’m just trying to help.

- Here comes Floyd with Voigt, Gesink, etc. Arrgh, some idiot just pushed Floyd and it seemed like he just gave up after that. Landis does not seem like the kind of guy that would appreciate that. That is really unfortunate. It would have been rad if Jens got off and went Chuck Norris on that guy. He kind of veered off so I got a little excited that there would be a roundhouse kick involved somehow. No such luck. This time.

- Andy Schleck is working hard in the break but kind of dancing around a little. Now Frank Schleck is going off the front of the peloton with JV, Gesink and Tom Danielson. It could get a little crazy if Saxo-Bank ends up with four guys ahead of the field with Levi isolated. You have to think that Astana is playing it cool since it’s still so early but…Bjarne seems to be applying his patented late-race Hail Mary tactics again.

- In other news: Dave Zabriskie is on LL like it’s nothing. I’ve always thought DZ should be able to climb with the best of them but just hasn’t been able to show it for some reason. Michael Rogers just took a MASSIVE pull to bring the GC guys back to the first chase group. Mick and DZ are looking super strong this year.

- Oh My Goodness. Some guy was just running along holding his infant child out like a musette bag. I really hope he gets arrested for child abuse. That was way worse than Michael Jackson a few years back. I swear, this is the reason I really fear for the future of our planet.

- Good to see Tommy D. in the front group. He’s been pretty visible in Boulder recently and seems to be finding a good comfort zone after a few frustrating years. Hopefully it comes together again for both him and Garmin-Slipstream.

- Jens Voigt presented by Chuck Norris looks like he’s in a prize fight with his new Specialized bicycle. I feel sorry for the carbon fiber when Jens starts rocking and throwing uppercuts with the quadriceps. Now there is some mental defective in green speedos running in front of Voigt. Oh how I wish there could be an official Time Out called for fighting like in hockey. The riders could even take off their gloves and then scrap. Actually, I’ve seen some funny YouTube clips with Bobby J and some other pugilists that may make me reconsider that.

- The main group goes over the summit of Mt. Palomar about a minute or so back. All the necessary names are present.

- Uh Oh, Michael Ball in the House: Humble? Not about being arrogant? A different time now? About business? He still has the Bentley though. I just hope the success in California gets guys like Baldwin and Creed paid for the rest of their contracts.

- The little Rock feature seemed to focus on Tyler more than M. Ball. Hamilton is still very popular and as polite and gracious as ever, signing autographs and posing for photos with fans. He actually seemed to be among the more visible of the “Big” name riders in the event.

- Commercials: Okay, how did I miss the investment potential for pharmaceutical male enhancement products? I could have retired by now if the frequency of advertising is any indication of cash flow. I feel like I need to take a shower after some of those innuendos.

- Apparently Bob Roll is doing product placement pieces now. I’m not sure how the manufacturers got VS to go along with that but okay. I wonder how much those little pieces were worth?

- Glenn Chadwick is off the front again and has really stepped up for this race. He was in the break all day on Stage 5 as well. It seemed like he just kind of fell away from the other guys down Palomar. I know he’s a Kiwi but he must know this descent.

- Paul Sherwen is now explaining how a stage race works. Duh…you mean it’s overall time? Der…what’s the green shirt for? Do they do stuff like that on the European coverage? Or do they just expect that if you’re watching, you pretty much know what is going on? I really hope that little production piece on the basics of a stage race helped some people out. Because I think it made a little bit of my brain explode and it better have been worth it.

- Here is the final climb up Cole Grade. Nibali is drilling it in his Liquigas/Kermit the Frog costume. Oh no, idiot Sumo wrestlers running next to the riders. This is out of hand. And another fool carrying his kid while running alongside the peloton. Since when did that become an option?

- Schleck is really digging now but Nibali is hanging in there as they begin to hit the rollers. Astana is all over the front of the field as Armstrong seems to be regulating the tempo. Chadwick is caught and has a bite to eat as he falls through the group.

- Oh dear. It seems that VS has found some of the old graphics from the Coors Classic in order to demonstrate how drafting works. Nice. I could be wrong, but that looked like a cartoon or something. Did one of the viewers win a contest to get that on TV? Or one of the producers kids? That was amazing. Oh, so that’s why they ride in a line like that?

- Schleck seems to be the stronger of the two and is now gesturing for Nibali to pull through. The Italian takes a sucker pull but at least fakes it on the front for a few seconds. It seems like someone other than Astana would have had to start working to bring Schleck and Nibali back because the Kazakh crew had no reason to reel them both all the way in.

- Hummer just gave a strange shout out Bill Walton. Okay. I remember an old picture of Walton when he was with the Blazers and he had a bike with a foot-long head tube. Seriously, the guy is like 7 feet tall. I think Hummer wants Lakers tickets from Luke.

- The final descent before a finish is always hectic but this one could be fun to watch. Nibali almost nibbled the tailpipe of the moto there for a second. I wonder if Schleck ever thinks about his Superman impression at the Tour de Suisse last year? These guys are flying.

- There is an interesting mix of riders and teams in the front chase group of about 25. In a display of small guy power, Oscar Sevilla and Trent Lowe take pulls ahead of Gutierrez. There just aren’t enough guys from a motivated team in this final group.

- Now it seems like Schleck is sitting on Nibali for the final kilometers. The Luxembourger makes a jump in the final straight and that’s it. Hincapie edges Sutherland for third at 39 seconds back.

- Phew. It’s over. Levi wins again over DZ and Michael Rogers. Done, done and done.

- Apparently there were over 2 million spectators at the Amgen Tour of California. I am happy to say that I was one of them for a few days but must admit that it is certainly much more comfortable from the couch. As always, the VS coverage makes me scratch my head every once in a while but still proves to be the best that we have in the U.S. so I am grateful for its presence.

- Now if we could just do something about those shirts…


Anonymous said...

My man, you have outdone yourself this time. My suggestion is a good rip on that chick asking all of the innane questions on cycling thinking it was all funny and stuff. Versus clearly has some comedic geniuses at headquarters that or one of the suits wanted to nail her.

Charles Cushman said...

Next year try watching the coverage on the ToC website. Very few commercials and they show the race from sign-in to the finish.

Sebastian said...

Awesome post. I actually went to high school with the speedos-n-grapes runners from stage one, now immortalized on Would you like me to deliver any personal messages?