Saturday, May 21, 2011

2011 ToC Stage 6: One for the record books

Photo courtesy of the Amgen Tour of California official  website.
It only took me a few minutes this morning to find my journal from 2005 and hunt up the July 4th entry on David Zabriskie. Two days prior, Zabriskie had won a time trial in the prologue stage of the Tour de France, thus having the honor of beginning the Tour wearing the yellow jersey. Back then, he was only the third American to have worn the maillot jaune, after Greg Lemond and Lance Armstrong. (George Hincapie would wear it the following year, making him the fourth.) Here’s how my entry for July 4, 2005 reads:

“Today a young man from Utah, David Zabriskie, wears the yellow jersey. He is only 22… and beat Lance by 2 seconds in the prologue time trial… so Lance—bless his heart—gave him a tip for yesterday’s stage: 'Don’t get any further back than 20 guys.' So Zabriskie made that his goal, and kept the yellow jersey, and he wears it again today!”

Of course, it was Lance Armstrong who went on to win the TdF that year—for the 7th time. But for awhile, the soft-spoken man who has now made California his home was proud to wear the yellow jersey for a few days.

I recalled all of this yesterday as I watched David Zabriskie push himself across the line in Stage 6 of the Tour of California. For those unfamiliar with stage particulars, in a time trial, riders compete against the clock, leaving a start house at one-minute intervals, riding as fast as they can to a finishing point (but having no one to ‘help’ in terms of drafting). The man with the fastest time wins. Yesterday, for Stage 6, it was David Zabriskie. Though Levi Leipheimer holds the record for that particular time trial, he could not beat Zabriskie’s time. Neither could Chris Horner. And while Horner still has the fastest time overall, Zabriskie can take away a stage win in the ToC—and a new course record in the time trial.

And now, my friends, the day has come. As I write this, it is 4:30a.m. I can still feel the electricity that was in the air last night on Mt Baldy. Of course, part of that electricity was bristling tension from Baldy cabin owners who lost all water pressure at 7:00 last night. Seems the work crew setting up tents uses water in 55-gallon drums for ballast. They turned off our main water supply so they could use their hoses to fill the drums. So I was happy to speed off on an adventure with neighbor Rob in which I impersonated—not for the first time—a member of the water board up here. Well, I actually was a member of the board up until last fall, so it wasn’t that big of a truth-stretch. And the crew members were cheerfully compliant. Rob turned the big valve and water was restored. Whew. It’s nice to be able to shower and make tea.

Meanwhile, there are crazy people camped in odd spots all over the mountain. Rob and I laughed about some people who had a camper set up and lawn chairs situated inches from the highway and were just sitting there, watching—as if the arrival of the peloton was imminent. And on the way home yesterday, I saw a big pick-up truck dragging a boat up the mountain. Apparently no one told those fans that Baldy doesn’t have a lake.

I’m sure the morning will hold more opportunities for adventure as I wander among those who spent last night down at Snowcrest Inn or over in the campground.

Most exciting, though, is that Chris Horner still holds first place, so he’ll be wearing the golden-colored leader’s jersey—easy to spot if he is the first rider pushing his way up the switchbacks a few hours from now.  I can already hear Phil Liggett saying, "Well, the wildflowers are blooming in Mt Baldy as we prepare for Stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California!"

1 comment:

  1. Great comments on the race! I've been relying on TV and missed out on all this until today. You get my palme d'or for race reporter!