I'm rooting for Levi Leipheimer, since he lives in my hometown. (Santa Rosa, California). He was pretty influential in getting the Tour de California here for Stage 1 the past couple of years. The downtown circuit is only a couple of blocks from my house, so it was pretty cool to walk over there and see all the bikers whizzing through the same streets I walk all the time.
Haven't read up enough to know who's looking good. I'd like to see Leipheimer win but purely because he's Discovery and American but i'm not sure if the team around him is up to snuff. It's a shame they lost that young kid Yaroslav Popovich, as it l ooked like he is going to be a bad ass for a long time.
Anyone see the Prologue this morning? The guy who won was absolutely ON FIRE; he rode like he stole something...
Watching it on tv would be a bore, but being there in person you can feel the excitement crackling in the air...hearing the crowd roar as they come around the corner, seeing a pack of 50 bikes whizzing by 6 feet in front of you so quickly they're just a blur...
I would argue there are more pro cyclists getting nailed because there is more testing in the ProTour than in any other professional sport. These guys are randomly tested out of season as well as in season. Lance Armstrong tells a great story about how a tester came to his house as he and his (now ex) wife were headed to the hospital so she could give birth.
I think the US pro leagues might have some of the same issues if they were tested as often as the Pro Tour guys.
They're still racing aren't they? Most who follow the sport would argue that right now is one of the most level "playing fields" in cycling in years, due to all the drug busts. Whether they're right or not is another matter; athletes and doctors always find a way to stay one step ahead of the testing, but I digress...
The sport is still exciting; that is, if you were a cycling fan in the first place. Sure, some of the big names like Basso and Ullrich are gone, but all that means is that soon other guys will step up and become the new "big names".
That's the case throughout most of the route, but Santa Rosa is different. The bikers ride in from the west end of town and they make three circuits around the downtown area. I watch them whizz by, then I run down a couple of blocks to see them going in the other direction, then I run back again. So, I see them a grand total of 6 times.
Plus, this year was a little different; Santa Rosa was also the beginning of Stage 2 the next day, so I woke up early and got to see the start. (No multiple circuits for this stage, however.)
They also have a little bike/health fair going on at Old Courthouse Square the entire day, where you can get free samples of sports drinks and protein bars, and buy over-priced biking equipment.
I'm not really a huge bike race fanatic, it's just that it feels like a sin to not attend an event like this that's only a couple minute's walk from my house!
That's awesome. Personality is a huge factor in my book as to whether I'll pull for a guy or not.
That's why it usually takes me a few stages to find the guys I'm really getting behind. Especially this year, with so many new faces and team formations. I like to see how they act in interviews and how they treat other riders along the way.