Fans whoop it up on stage 4
By the time the helicopters arrived the crowd was whipped into a frenzy.
After a couple of false starts the Amgen Tour of California was finally going to kick start into gear (pun intended). As we all know stage 1 was canceled and stage 2 was abbreviated. Stage 3 was another stage for the sprinters bringing a change in the general classification – but it was far from permanent. Stage 4, Livermore to San Jose, was the day the lightweight climbers had been waiting for. With a finish at the summit of Sierra Road, this was the Tour of California's much awaited true mountain top summit finish.
This area of California has a strong cycling influence from the urban style, tight pant wearing hipster fix-gear crowd to the serious road racers and mountain bikers. All of these different and divergent cycling groups swarmed on Sierra Road ready and waiting for the tour.
The weather today started about as cheerful as Maria Shriver's mood. Dark foreboding clouds darkened the top of the climb. There were intermittent showers. Regardless, people were making the trek up Sierra. Many were on bikes with the chains dropped in the small ring laboring to make it to the summit, cameras slung over a shoulder and a bulging backpack that may or may not have contained adult beverages.
On a switchback that offered a view of the racers below and a view toward the summit was the hub of the party people. These people are the equivalent of the Green Bay Packers fans who cheer shirtless, rotund bodies painted yellow and green. I put myself on the list for the shuttle that transports media to the summit from the press room, located at the bottom of the climb. While the journalists were looking for a quote from a stage winner or GC contender, I was looking for the tifosi who were in various states of sobriety and undress.
I'm guessing that the cold weather and the threat of shrinkage persuaded people from running with racers dressed only in a thong. However, cowbells clanging and the occasional blast from a vuvuzela continued to energize the crowd. Then the sun finally came out to brighten up the scene. By the time the thump-thump of the helicopters arrived the crowd was whipped into a frenzy.
Breaking the horizon and riding solo was RadioShack's Chris Horner as he charged for the finish line. Not only was he the stage winner but he took over the golden leader's jersey.
Yes, it was a good day of racing. There was an exciting stage finish and among the cycling fans I found a few people that I'd only known through the Internet. I met the charming @8StarHat, as she's known on Twitter. I also met @supcat who created the Kitten of Flanders flag, which I'm sure will make him a billionaire once he starts selling them.
Tomorrow we head to a fresh course with cycling fans eager to see the racing. The weather is rumored to be improving everyday so now we wait to see if Horner can keep his lead all the way to Thousand Oaks.