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Riders and fans make Amgen Tour of California memories

May 27, 2012

Deviled egg on slopes of Mt. Baldy

What will fans remember most when they look back on the 2012 Amgen Tour of California? They will recall the people that inhale professional cycling: the riders and the fans. Bike racing brings us closer to inspirational human performance as well as nutty and authentic expressions of love and appreciation.

Fans on the road at the AToC shared with ProVéloPassion what they will most remember when they look back on the race.

Remembering riders

Ronnie, Art, and Arnel from Glendale, Irwindale, and Marina del Ray in California arrived at 7 a.m. to set up on a hairpin turn just under three kilometers from the Mt. Baldy finish, the site of their camp last year. One said, “My favorite part of the race is getting close to the cyclists. They tour in Italy, France, all over the world, and here you can run alongside them and cheer them on and be this close to them.”

Anthony Feliciano from Hollywood, CA said, during a rest while riding up Mt. Baldy, “Yesterday’s stage with Sylvain Georges breaking away and staying away. That team really needed that win, and that was nice to see. I think even the leaders of the race were happy for him.”

Matt Busche (RadioShack Nissan Trek) chooses Reeses cupcake

David and his pre-teen son Gavin from Las Cruces New Mexico followed the race from Bakersfield to the finish in downtown Los Angeles. David spoke as he made sandwiches out of the back of the car six kilometers below the summit of Mt. Baldy. He and Gavin loved the TT because, Gavin said, “Matt Busche had a good TT time.” Gavin wore a cap Busche signed in Bakersfield, a cap Busche gave him last year. The family knew Busche when he lived in Las Cruces.

Anthony, Ryan, and Scott waited about 1.5 kilometers below the summit of Mt. Baldy in the shade. Scott from San Luis Obispo, CA, said: “I’ll remember that Sagan won four stages. I don’t necessarily like that, but that’s what I’ll remember…It’s more fun to see different guys getting different stages; I like to see it mixed up.”

“The Sagan wins, I have to agree with that, it was pretty spectacular to see four in a row. But I think for me, riding up here today and watching the leaders come up, I’m hoping it’s going to be something I’m going to remember for a while,” said Anthony from San Diego, CA. How hard did he think it was to ride up Mt. Baldy? “I was glad to get to the top and I don’t want to ride back up there to see the monitor so I’m going to just stay right here.”

Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) at the Bakersfield TT turnaround

Ryan Chandler from Nashville Tennessee will remember spectating at the time trial in Bakersfield. “I’m a triathlon guy so I love the TT bikes. I love watching them go fast by themselves.” Who was his favorite rider in the TT? “Dave Zabriskie won it so I gotta go for Captain America.”

Three guys from Santa Clarita and Fullerton, CA stopped and leaned over the top tubes of their bikes, catching their breath with about 2.5 kilometers remaining to the top of Baldy. Two of them hadn’t seen any of the race yet and had choosen Mt. Baldy to take it in, “Because someone convinced us [to ride up] – and we want to find them and kill them.”

Oregon helmet horns runner

For the love of fans

David Gordon is affiliated with Stage 17 Racing presented by America West, a U23 team in its first year based out of Orange County CA. The team set up tents on a steep corner about 3.5 kilometers from the top of Mt. Baldy and set about their work as the Good Samaritans of people on two wheels. They rang cowbells. They tooted horns. They pressed palms into cyclists’ backs. Gordon’s favorite part of the AToC: “Pushing the people that are hurting really bad and giving them the extra boost they need to make it to the top of Baldy. The race overall, it’s been pretty cool to see Sagan take the first four stages; yesterday was pretty impressive as well. We love the Tour of California. We come out here every year, to support where we can.”

Reynolds camp on Mt. Baldy

A Reynolds Wheels crew set up camp on a turn just above Stage 17 Racing’s corner. They’ve been following the race since it started in Santa Rosa. Shelly Driscoll from Vista, CA, will most remember the finish on Mt. Baldy. “This has the crazy people. The Oregon guy with the big horns just went by, so he’ll be running next to the fans. And this is it, this will determine the race.”

Paul Schmitt from Roslyn, Washington, father of Morgan Schmitt on Team Exergy, will remember what he described as the beauty of California: “the many different ecosystems, the mountains, the deserts, the flowers, the cities, the people…were very friendly. I like the way the race was big but it was still small…accessible.”

This lady’s smile after Peter Sagan gave her his bouquet from Livermore says it all. An hour later she skipped along the sidewalks of Livermore.

Sagan hands flowers to spectator in Livermore

What was your favorite part of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California?

  1. Made me miss it even more. Hands down, running across the parking lot to hug you, Jens smiling at me from the podium and meeting Christophe Riblon

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