Thursday, September 11, 2008

2008 TOM - Stage 4

Finally had a night where I chilled out here a bit. It's helping too that tomorrow's stage starts much later so some sleeping in tomorrow will be in order. :-)

Today started out with a trip down to the start. We ended up parking near the Batman Marshall Van so I found Clydesdale (knowing him only from his PdC sign on, asking for Clydesdale was odd to say the least - hello Marvin) and said hello. From there it was a trip over to the Jelly Belly guys with the peanut butter filled pretzels Danny said the guys could have. Talked to Bryce Mead for a bit and I think we need to find him a few primes to win to get the house fixed from the tree. But married life is treating him well so things are good. :-)

At the start this morning there had to be like 200+ kids. It was great to see them all in their yellow shirts and had signs for each of the teams. Looked like they hit up the tents as they all had oodles of goodies. I watched them walk around to find their teams and wondered how much sugar some had. Heading over to Jelly Belly again, I got some pics of the guys signing the kids signs, cards, and even shirts. Talking with some of the adults with the kids - hands off as they were really excited and so thrilled the Jelly Belly guys were being so nice to all the kids. The guys made sure they were all taken care of. Danny and company made sure they all had Jelly Belly Sports Beans. Good stuff. We got a couple riders and couple of the classes in group shots. It was pretty fun. The kids loved it, the adults were ever so thrilled and just loved the team, and the riders I think had some fun with it. The smiles by all were cool.

I headed over to the Garmin guys and dropped off some more coffee for C. I had hoped Eric was there as these guys must just laugh at fans. Hopefully C is enjoying the beans. As I walked around the kids outside the Garmin bus had me cracking up. They were chanting Garmin over and over. Then they started yelling at the bus as they could see riders moving around. A few girls by the door were just screaming at the guys that they had to come out and right now. DZ added to the fun by throwing out gels from the window. The kids went nuts. God bless Steven Cozza who dared to come out the door first. He was so great with the kids and I think he really had some fun with it but man was it kind of funny seeing it. Tyler Farrar was the next one to come out and face the screaming girls. Hats off to the guys that faced these kids today.

Once the riders got sent off, we headed out to catch some spots on the course. The first was an overpass. We got there and George Hincapie and Tony Cruz had like a 5 second gap on the group and were just hauling ass. We took off from that spot to head over to the 2nd KOM spot. It was a relaxing and pretty enjoyable. Meeting people and talking away as we wait for riders. The actual KOM spot was a bit further from us but it flatted out so we stayed on the incline a bit earlier. I've got my blackberry so we are able to keep up with the race from Cycling News until the radio announcer truck pulls through. The guys coming up the hill were still kickin' a good pace. We can't help but crack up with watching Rollin come flyin' up to get some more KOM points. There's just some good humor in him having that jersey. I think many of us are hoping he keeps it all week. He certainly has been a treat up on stage.

After the KOM we headed to a sharp turn on the course. A lot of people there. We heard and read about some more crashes happening. The trooper at this corner was kind of an ass but the one from the hill going up to the TT finish yesterday was so fun we forgive today's guy. The huge break (with Christian, George, Barry, Danielson, etc) flew around the corner and were high tailing it. The announcer truck had pulled in for a bit waiting for the guys. They had time gaps and rider info. I went up to the driver and handed him my blackberry for the CN update as he was missing a couple riders and his time gap info was old. With smiles, they updated, and then headed back on the road. At the time the gap was only like a minute or so but by the time the pack finally came around, it was over 5 minutes, possibly even reaching closer to 6. The difference of the break making that corner at speed and the pack just kind of riding along was enjoyable to watch. There was a kid down from us with a Go John Devine sign. One of the Columbia riders pulled over to see if they were family to let them know John had crashed and was en route to the hospital.

After that we needed to get to the finish. Some unexpected construction traffic hurt a bit but all was still good. We got to a parking lot and headed over for the finish. We got to see Barry come around the corner to do his last laps and then got to see him win! I like Michael Barry a lot and I think most do so I think just about everyone was thrilled to see him get the win. Then the rest of the break came in and it was great to see C going for the time bonuses on the finish. He came in 4th but it was still exciting.

After all that fun, it was a good 10 minutes before the pack came in. And they were totally taking it easy. The guys were talking away, smiling, goofing around. Not typical but certainly could be expected once the break got free with the top GC guys in it. As the podium stuff got underway the rain drops started. Michael Barry was adorable up on the stage. C was too and I have to admit, his smiles are contagious and I hope he keeps them coming!

Tomorrow has a chance of rain so it could be a wet one. I told the Bryce I'd bring him and the guys cookies so hopefully the rain will hold off a bit. The stage doesn't start until like 2 so there is some nice free time in the morning. I think we might try to get to a sprint point possibly. The start and finish for sure but weather will probably run the plans for the day.

Hope everyone is having a good week. I hope to update the previous days soon, maybe in the morning. I should be hurt with not having a pic of C up but I'm sure he understands. Maybe I can use the coffee beans as a bribe for now. LOL! Later!

I've been able to upload all of my pics but I haven't had anytime to do any kind of editing. To top that off, the TT pics I went through and labeled were already in the process of loading last night so I need to redo those notes on the flickr ones and edit them. Right now flickr is getting pretty frustrating with it taking so long and the editing taking forever to get in and out of so that might need to wait until I get back home. BUT... here is a link to my photo sets so you can take a look. If you go through them and recognize riders and such, please feel free to comment to help identify them. I know several but there are many I don't by just looking at them.

Some linkies:
CN: Live Report - Stage 4
CN: Stage 4 - September 11: Lebanon - Rolla, 95 miles
VN: Barry solos to stage win in Missouri; Vande Velde holds lead
Podium In Sight - Race notes, pics, and comments.

Garmin: TOM Stg 4: Vande Velde 4th on stage, hangs on to yellow; Danielson 5th overall
JellyBelly: TOM - Stage 4

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