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February 16, 2009

Tour of California: Theft, A Debut, New Tech, Suffering

Someone stole Lance's time trial bike.

Lance Armstrong's time trial bike, which he rode to 10th place in the prologue, was stolen off a team truck along with three other bikes. The other bikes stolen belong to Janez Brajkovic, Steve Morabito and Yaroslav Popovych.

In a wonderful example of Social Media, Lance immediately Twitter'd an all-points-bulletin and offered a reward.

This bike doesn't even have a kickstand. If I ended up with it, I'd have to put racks and fenders on it.

Media presents the innocent savant, raised in the wild. Canada.

Svein Tuft makes his big-league cycling debut, promoted by the media as a Canadian youth who grew up in the mountains, spending seasons riding his bike with his dog. Tuft disdained cycling's drug culture so much that he left cycling; he was persuaded to come back because he was promised that (1) his team would be drug-free and (2) he was welcome to disappear back into the mountains in the off-season.

This is the best "noble savage" story in bicycling since the media introduced that Amish guy, what was his name, Floyd Landis. But Tuft is the story you want to believe even though you know you shouldn't - when they hired him to report to a Los Angeles training camp in 2003, he rode his bike there (from Canada). This fellow will be an interesting story, and time will tell if he's another Lance, another Floyd, or another Sidd Finch.

New technology introduced - electric gear shifting

Shimano’s electric shifting system, known as the Dura-Ace Di2 7970, is being used by three professional teams competing in California: Columbia High Road, Garmin Slipstream and Rabobank. This is a trial to see how the new gear holds up before the three Grand Tours (Tour de France, the Giro, and the Vuelta). For time trialists, the new system allows riders to maintain their aero tuck even when shifting.

Stage One : Riders in the Storm

This is what Francisco Mancebo looked like as he won Stage One. Let me say that when a guy who gets paid to show his sponsor's logo crosses the finish line looking like that, he hasn't had any fun, and neither has anybody trying to stay with him. Imagine doing that for 107.6 miles. That's a lot of suffering and work.

Stage Two : Monday

Thomas Peterson (Garmin-Slipstream) won today's stage - I love the argyle team kit! Last year's winner and California favorite Levi Leipheimer (Astana) grabs the yellow jersey as the overall leader. Fabian Cancellara, who won Saturday's prologue, withdrew from the race at the first feed zone.


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