Now in it’s 4th year, the Amgen Tour of California is becoming BIG. I measure things in big-ness by their recognition from people who are not into sports, or in this case, cycling. Even my grandmother is watching it. That is big. My grandmother is 79, and is more of a beer drinker football fan than a yellow jersey, king of the mountain fan. So it’s very big that she is watching the ToC.
But what on earth is so entertaining about watching dudes in spandex ride for 5 hours straight? I have learned over the last few years, that the more you understand about cycling, the more exciting it is.
The commentators have their set of lingo, so it helps to know what the heck they are talking about.
Here is a great page that explains common terms:
But to save you the trouble of having to go to the page, here area few brief definitions:
Peloton- the main pack of riders, the purpose of this is riding in the pack is to ride efficiently. You’ll save energy by drafting and being with the pack.
GC – They say this A LOT. In laymen’s terms it means winner, over all. It actually stands for General Classification, but that is silly.
KOM – otherwise known as King of the Mountain, the guy who climbs the designated KOM climbs the fastest. He gets points for this. And a special jersey at the end of the stage.
Neutral Zone – If you watched the tour kick off on Monday, you likely saw them riding across the Golden Gate bridge, pretty freakin’ cool (weather aside)! They talk about a controlled start and later, neutral zones. This is when they control the peloton and don’t allow riders to take off, this is mainly for safety reasons.
Maillot jaune – The yellow jersey, not to be confused with the obvious color choice of Lance’s LiveStrong campaign. This is worn by the GC during the following stage.
So what is so exciting? This peloton rides as a group and sure enough some hot-headed show-off will try and get a lead on the main pack. One man can’t do it alone and this usually becomes a small breakaway and they will have to trade off leading and drafting to be able to maintain or increase any lead they have on the main pack. So they ride and ride for a few hours, maybe someone crashes, hopefully not. Depending on the tactics of the breakaway or the peloton, the main group might catch up and the end becomes an all out sprint between the riders. Of course, if you’re at the back of the pack, forget it. Basically, you never know what will develop – a sprint finish or a breakaway steals the day.
And it can change with every stage.
So what are the exciting tid-bits so far in the race? Rain. Rain. Rain. The circuit in SacTown delivered rain. The Astana team van was broken into and 4 bikes were stolen, including Lance’s one of a kind TT bike. Stage 1 from Santa Rosa to Davis delivered lots of freezing rain, Lance even tweeted about it being one of the worst days out there. The TT winner, Fabian Cancellara, quit at mile 42 of Stage 1 due to illness. Stage 2 delivered more pelting rain. The race took over the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time in history. Sunshine was briefly spotted at the finish. Stage 3 saw more rain and a crash from GC Levi Leipheimer, who got back on another bike and caught up with the peloton. Stage 4 finally delivered a rain-free day with sunshine, but also snow on the ground and an awesome sprint finish with Mark Cavendish coming in first. Oh yeah, Lance’s TT bike has been found. http://bigtweet.com/c/b/twitter/twitendurance/sqlE3 People are amazingly dumb.
1. Levi Leipheimer of Astana
2. Michael Rogers of Columbia High Road
3. David Zabriskie of Garmin
4. Lance Armstrong of Astana