Tour of California LiveBlog: Stage 4, Merced to Clovis

This should be one of the most exciting stages of the whole Tour. A 105 mile course, with what looks like around 6,000 feet of climbing (I just pulled that number out of my butt), and a big ol 35 mile working descent to the finish line.

Sounds like a job for a strong GC guy.

My liveblogging will be even lamer than usual today, because I’ve got other fish to fry.

Check me out, trying to lower your expectations in spite of the fact that you expect me to be pretty darned lame.

First though, how about that Velonews live coverage shout out?

Ibis Cycles’ Scot Nicol, an old friend of the VeloNews gang, has been working with Elden “Fatty” Nelson to raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. It’s a two-fer – if you contribute, you’ll be helping fight cancer while ensuring that Bob Roll finally shaves what little hair is left atop what you will surely agree is a very odd head. Says Scot: “Our original goal was $5,000 but we managed to raise that in about 20 hours. Now I’m working on getting some more incentives so people will keep donating. Stay tuned for news on that.” If you’d like to contribute, click here: http://tinyurl.com/aetgzl.

Thanks, Velonews guys!

Liveblog starts rrrright now.

2:48 What’d I miss?

2:51 Carnage on the ground.

Floyd has crashed. Now we learn exactly how useful that “OUCH” jersey is. Say, for example, you crash, and the wind is knocked out of you. You can’t speak at all.

What do you do? Just point at your jersey!

2:53 I still don’t know what’s going on. Versus is not helping me. let’s see what CyclingNews says.

  • Serge Pauwels (Cervélo TestTeam), Jason McCartney (Team SaxoBank), Tyler Hamilton (Rock Racing)
  • Peloton at 4:00

Thanks, CyclingNews!

2:55 Dug IM’s me with the observation, “They’re at stage 4 and Hamilton is thirty minutes back? Did he stop and take pictures during one of the stages or something?”

It’s a good question. Why is Hamilton 30 minutes behind Leipheimer? And I don’t want anyone telling me that nonsense about him being out of shape because he’s been busy with family problems. That’s an excuse for being 10 minutes back, not 30.

2:57 Hummer goes out to the ad with the observation that “These crashes can happen with only a moment’s notice!”

Actually, Craig, if there were a moment’s notice, the crashes wouldn’t happen at all.

3:08 OK, had to take care of some stuff. And I return to YET ANOTHER CRASH.

You know what I suspect? I suspect that the cyclists have forgotten how to ride on dry roads.

3:09 So, the best GC guy in the breakaway is Jason McCartney. A little known fact is that he is the cousin of Paul McCartney’s daughter!

I just made that up!

3:11 The race leaders are on the final big climb. I know that Hamilton, when he feels like it, descends like a madman.

I hereby am officially rooting for a Tyler Hamilton win.

Anyone want to join me in rooting for Tyler?

3:13 We go to ads.

3:15 The lead group is 6:30 ahead.

3:16 Has anyone ever satisfactorily explained why Hamilton does that rocking side to side thing when he rides?

3:17 Has anyone ever satisfactorily explained why Tyler’s hair is so long now? Looks like it weighs a pound and a half.

Maybe that’s why he’s a half hour behind.

3:18 The announcers are talking about the LiveStrong foundations. Seems like a GREAT MOMENT TO TALK ABOUT HOW BOB ROLL IS GOING TO SHAVE HIS HEAD.

3:23 Hummer makes a good observation: the snow is pretty deep. Earlier today, in fact, there was a tire chain advisory on this road. Amazing that it’s dry now. Nice work, whoever plowed the road.

3:25 And we go to ads. Except since I’ve got http://tracker.amgentourofcalifornia.com/ open in a background window, the video never ends.

This makes me feel like writing a letter to the Internet.

Dear Internet,

I love you.

Kind Regards,

The Fat Cyclist

3:26 Back from ads!

3:27 By the way, Bob Roll has not yet cut his hair. Chuck Ibis tells me, though, that Lance was giving Bob grief, saying he’s got to do it. I hope they broadcast that interview.

3:28 The video on the web is about 10 seconds behind the Versus video. Just in case you’re curious.

3:31 Hey, there’s Bob INTERVIEWING THE GM OF LIVESTRONG. I WONDER IF THIS WOULD BE A GOOD MOMENT FOR BOB TO MENTION THAT BOB’S EARNED $6500 FOR LIVESTRONG WITH THE PROMISE THAT HE WILL SHAVE HIS HEAD?

3:32 Nope, not a word.

3:33: Are they tormenting me on purpose? Cuz I’m starting to take this a little personally.

By the way, I’d like to take this rare moment of ads to point out that today is really hectic for me. I mean, really, really hectic. I’m going to have to drop out at 3:45 or so, and will resume around 5:00pm.

At which point, this will become a Tivo-blog of the stage.

However, please feel free to liveblog this stage in my absence, through the medium of commenting with any ol’ race-related thing that pops into your head.

Hey, that’s what I’m doing. But you knew that already.

3:36 Motorcycle speedometer looks like the lead group, going downhill, is going around 35-42 mph.

Any road cyclist knows that’s slow for a pro downhill. Heck, I go that fast on road downhills. Faster even.

So why so slow?

3:38 Looks like a working downhill. The lead group has to work together. They won’t keep the gap otherwise.

3:41 That comedian woman again. How did she get this job? I really want to know who they chose her over.

3:42 I gotta go. I’ll continue blogging this in a couple hours.

Carry on without me. I’ll miss you.

5:55 OK, I’m back. Now hunting for where I left off on the Tivo. The thing is, I couldn’t just pause when I left, because Susan wanted to finish watching this stage.

5:57 I’m trying to figure out if there’s any reason at all for me to liveblog a stage that ended just about an hour ago.

Then it occurs to me that there’s no real reason for me to liveblog the stages when they’re live. I mean, there’s nobody who’s actually coming to my site for their race info, right? Right?

I mean, that would be like going to the Daily Show for your news.

A lobotomized Daily Show, sure, but you get my point.

6:07 Craig is saying they’ve saved the best for last, with the intimation being that this is both the best and last. Maybe they’ve told Hummer that today’s the last stage.

6:09 It looks like I’ve got about an hour left on this recording, which freaks me out, because I could run out of recording before I run out of race.

6:11 OK, I’ve finally found the spot where I had to leave off. Yay!

The thing is, I don’t dare to look at comments or any other site or even my own, because I hate the idea of finding out how this ends without watching it myself.

6:13 The way Paul describes it, the peloton is going to catch the lead group. High Road and Quick Step working the front.

6:15 Bob Roll talks with Specialized. Yay for free advertising?

You know what would make some good free advertising, Bob? How about TALKING ABOUT THE WAY YOU RAISED $6500 TO FIGHT CANCER BY SHAVING YOUR HEAD?

6:17 You know what’s really cool? That commercials go by really fast when you’ve tivo’d a show.

6:24 You know, when you can fast forward, the temptation to do so becomes almost irresistable.

I have watched 6-hour stages of the TdF in about 30 minutes thanks to this universal truth.

6:25 Versus has decided to stop talking about the race. They’re talking about the spectators. Why look, fast-forwarding works on this, too!

6:26 The sharp edge of the peloton is hauling on this downhill. I just can’t imagine the breakaway succeeding. Too bad, because I have committed to root for Hamilton.

6:30 It seems unlikely to me that Leipheimer will win a stage, unless he somehow wins the time trial.

I would suggest that when someone wins a stage race without winning a stage, their final yellow jersey get a giant asterisk get screened onto it.

6:34 A clever little montage on Levi. His wife says of their dog, “He’s so skinny and tiny, just like Levi!”

I’m sure that Levi’s teammates give him no grief at all about that comment.

6:36 Hummer said “break the wind” again.

Huhuhuhuh.

6:37 Oh no. I’ve got about 10 minutes worth of recording left. And much, much more race to go. Hamilton and Co. just hit the flat.

Gap’s down to 2:15. I may be forced to use powerful brainwaves to affect the outcome of this race.

Which is not easy to do, considering that the outcome of the race is an historical fact.

So I will have to really, really concentrate.

6:39 2 minute gap with 15 miles to go. Piffle.

It occurs to me that one of the great things about not being a journalist is I don’t have to pretend to be remotely objective.

6:43 Well. The recording just ended. Perfect. I shall now go read how the race went, and then surprise and delight you by summarizing as if I were commenting in real-time.

6:50 The peloton is closing in on the lead group!

30 seconds!

Now 20!

10!!!

5!

6:51 The peloton has caught the breakaway group!

6:52 Teams are battling back and forth, positioning themselves for the big sprint!

6:53 I am eating an avocado and turkey sandwich! It is very delicious! I highly recommend Gulden’s Spicy Brown Mustard!

6:54 Mark Cavendish gets the win! Oh my goodness!

PS: I cannot liveblog tomorrow, but I have high hopes that I might be able to get someone from the core team — or perhaps Al Maviva, if he’s interested — to take my place.

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