Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tour of California - Stage 4: Modesto

The finish in Modesto today was out of control!! What a way to end our time in California. The breakaway ended up staying clear for almost the entire day, but as is often the case, they got swept up right at the very end. It was tough to see Lars Boom get caught but the sprint finish was really exciting and we had a front row seat.
We made it to Modesto early in order to be right on the course for the sprint. We managed to get a spot about 110m from the line. The riders did two circuits through the city so we got to see them three times. On the first pass through Lars Boom was leading but by the second pass he had been caught, and Cervelo had a strong lead-out train going for their sprinting ace Theo Bos.
But the finishing pass was off the hook cool. Mark Renshaw of HTC-Columbia was doing the job he does best, leading out Mark Cavendish. Theo Bos still had one teammate, Haussler, to lead him out, and J.J. Haedo of Saxo Bank was driving with his head down, going it alone. Look at how far out on the bike Cavendish is! 
Haedo manages to crank it up a notch and starts to pull even with Cavendish, who by this point is off Renshaw's wheel and gunning straight for the finish. Haussler (just behind Cavendish in the green glasses) is wondering where the heck is Theo Bos!
And then Haedo pulls even with Cavendish and neither he nor Renshaw can believe it. The picture is a little fuzzy (they are moving at close to 40 mph) but you can see the total shock on the faces of the HTC-Columbia teammates. However, what nobody sees, not even my camera lens, is Fancesco "The Sheriff" Chicchi who closed the gap in the last few meters to pass both Haedo (who finished 2nd) and Cav (3rd) for the victory. That's him at the top of the post, gettin' some love from the podium girls!
And finally, the rest of the field rolled leisurely in, not too concerned about losing time to the stage winners.  Fabian Cancellara looked pretty relaxed for a guy who had been racing a bike all day.
Likewise, Lance Armstrong and most of the Radio Shack squad finished in a mellow group, chatting and seeming none the worse for the effort of the day. So that wraps up my time at the Tour of California and man was it exciting. I can't wait for next year!!

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