California on my mind, what five riders will remember
Five riders who competed in the 2012 Amgen Tour of California share what they’ll most remember about 700 plus miles of west coast racing.
Jeff Louder, UnitedHealthcare: “Generally I’m going to remember just how difficult it was. It was a consistently hard race from the start to the finish; there was a really deep field and the courses were all harder than any other Tour of California that I remember. And specifically I’ll remember the break-away the first day that I was in and being able to hold on to third place…for four or five days – so that was really enjoyable. It’s nice to get your name out there and be a part of the race somehow. So I think it was a good California for myself and for the team. It was fun.” He secured third on GC by taking first place in the two intermediate sprints on stage one which earned him six bonus seconds. With the 2012 edition Jeff has competed four times in the Amgen Tour of California.
Luke Durbridge, Orica-GreenEDGE: “Definitely the crowds. The crowds are pretty unreal here, they’re really into it and they’re just really vocal…all the hype behind the race, people on the roadside, just love it. They are all dressed up and running alongside. It’s a really cool experience when you are racing up a climb and you see the guys next to you running along with so much enthusiasm.”
Luke is the current Australian time trial champion. Luke’s favorite costumed fan in California? “The guy with the goat helmet and the jocks.”
George Bennet, RadioShack Nissan Trek: “I have a lot of good memories about the race — the crowds, beautiful roads, beautiful scenery.
“But, probably a little bit disappointing as well in terms of results. Personally, I had a bad time trial, and obviously Chris had a bad day in the TT and we didn’t achieve what we came here to achieve. But you know yesterday I was really proud of how we rode; that’s definitely going to stand out the most.”
George, Gregory Rast, and Jens Voigt rode for teammate Chris Horner in an audacious break-away move up to Mt. Baldy. George continued, “Chris has probably one of the best attitudes as a leader, he had a really bad day in the TT and saw the overall go out the window — probably a lot of guys would have quit…we laid it all on the line yesterday, and Chris ended up not where we wanted to — we thought we could have won the stage, we thought we could have maybe taken GC back. But we left everything on the road, we have no regrets really. There wasn’t anything more we could have done.” George, a strong climber from New Zealand who came to road racing from mountain biking, is a neo-pro this season. Last year he rode for Team Livestrong-Trek and won the Tour of Wellington in New Zealand.
Nathan Haas, Garmin-Barracuda: “We had awesome food, we had a team chef this week, it was amazing…every night was different.” Chef Barbara Grealish did not cook in the team hotels; she cooked out of the team bus in parking lots. “We’d just go [to the bus] and she’s been cooking for hours before we’d get there every day, every night.”
Nathan is also a neo-pro. In 2011 he won numerous races, including the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Australia.
The other teams must have been jealous, eating rice or pasta and chicken every night.
Joe Dombrowski, Bontrager Livestrong: “Well, for sure yesterday [Baldy] for me was definitely a sticking point. It was a week of a lot of waiting for me, because Axel told me to just save myself; the two GC days were kind of late in the race. The TT didn’t really go as I’d hoped, so I was really hoping for a good day on Baldy. So to come out with a real strong ride, I was pretty stoked.”
Joe stamped his name on the race by crossing the finish line fourth on Mt. Baldy.
Joe recounted the key moment on that climb: “I was in the group with I think three Rabo guys, including Kelderman and Gesink, and Levi, and Van Garderen – mostly just the big GC names were there. And Gesink went pretty early with five or six K to go and I tried to go with him but didn’t quite have the legs. Tejay and Danielson came around and I ended up catching those two and working with them for a bit and just kind of rode my own pace to the top.”