Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cycle. Sprint. Repeat.

I'm not one to say "I told you so," so I won't.  But...

Peter Sagan has gone on to win the 3rd and 4th stages of the Amgen Tour of California, in addition to his wins in the first two stages.  Impressive.  But...  You have to understand how professional cycling works, if you're new to this game.  It's not like all 140 guys roll out in the morning and the first one across the line 120 miles later is the winner.  Well, I mean, that's true, but it's not every man for himself.  Individual cyclists ride as members of teams, and it is the young and strong team members of Liqui-Gas Cannondale who are setting the pace in the peloton (the group of cyclists as a whole), protecting Sagan as he moves his way to the front, then catapulting him forward (by way of having a strong rider in front of him so that he can ride in the slipstream until the last seconds) so that he can be first across the line.  Liqui-Gas has always fielded an impressive team, but this year for the ATOC, they're stronger than anything else out there, at least for now.

These first days of the tour are similar to the first week of the Tour de France, in that they are characterized by consecutive stages of long rides (115-120 miles), with maybe some hills or small mountains thrown in, then a sprint finish.  Over time, the cyclists will tire, which will change up the overall standings.

And something else that will change the overall standings:  A time trial.  Today's stage in Bakersfield will not be a road race, but rather an individual time trial, in which riders will compete exclusively against the clock.  The man with the fastest time today wins the stage.  In the past, this is an event that has brought Levi Leipheimer to the top of the overall standings.  But with his still healing broken leg, it will be interesting to see how the day turns out.  No one is expecting Peter Sagan to win today.  But this young man is fired up, so we'll just have to see what happens.

I am thoroughly enjoying the coverage of the race on NBCSports with much beloved Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen commentating.  Good job, lads!  Keep up the good work!

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