PEZ-pal Andrea Peron helped us snag a few minutes with his old CSC teammate Ivan Basso. The Giro champ looks winded even before his climb up to SF’s Coit Tower in his new Discovery team kit, but he’s just now rounding in to form. “This is more difficult for me. This is the first race of the year. I hope my team wins the overall this week and maybe a stage, too. My objective is in front of me. I only need to improve race by race.”
Aaahhh, the life of a cyclist. The guy with the linebacker legs inside of the Health Net team van is Karl Menzies. A little pre-race rubdown can work wonders on the old blood flow, eh? Menzies managed a top 30 finish today.
World TT champ Fabian Cancellara screamed to a top five finish today. Before the start, he was in the mood to chit-chat, so I asked him if he had “good legs” today. He said he was feeling good, but, “I pre-rode the course this morning, and I was surprised at how hard it is! But we look, and we go, and we give it full gas. It’s not my favorite time trial prologue, but I do my best.”
The biggest star of the show today, without a doubt, was World and Olympic champ Paolo Bettini. “The Cricket” got a bit of last-minute advice from his old friend, cycling doc extraordinaire Dr. Max Testa.
Check out the gold shoes. Only Bettini…and maybe Cipollini…could get away with an outfit like this.
Talk about an outfit…check out the kitten with the whip. Her real name is Julie Holmes, and she’s a real-live cross racer back in Utah. She snapped her whip a bit too close to Bettini, but nothing seemed to faze ol’ Paolo today. His heart really wasn’t in the race…he finished 122nd out of 144, but he admitted to me that this is not really his type of race. “Time trial is no good for me! Tuesday…maybe I go for it Tuesday!”
Look closely…Thor Hushovd still bears the scars of the day he was slashed on his right arm by a sign held by an over-zealous fan at last year’s Tour de France. It wasn’t his day, either. Thor ended up 51st.
Here’s an inside scoop…Fast Freddie Rodriguez got his first look at his TT bike this morning: “I just got my time trial bike today! But this race is short enough, so that shouldn’t’ make that much of a difference. My goal is a top ten.” Hmmm…not today. Fred was only fast enough for 36th.
The day belonged to the semi-homeboy. Levi Leipheimer lives just up the road in Santa Rosa, so you can imagine the pressure to perform in front of all his friends and family. Maybe it was this pre-race concentration that made the difference in his half-second win today in the TT.
Is it just me, or is Levi paying homage to Floyd Landis on the time trial bike? Can you get any more compact on a bike? Apparently it’s pretty fast…he won…again.
Let’s not forget about the biggest surprise in quite some time: Jason Donald’s 2nd Place on the day. We would be more than remiss not to mention the sterling ride by the neo-pro with Slipstream. Slipstream did pretty well on the day, nabbing the points (Donald) and young rider (Tolleson) jerseys.
We’re back on the road tomorrow, following the peloton all the way from Sausalito to Santa Rosa. We promise to take you inside…deep inside…the Tour of California all week.
1. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Discovery Channel, 4:49:050
2. Jason Donald (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 4:50.497
3. Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA), Priority Health, 4:54.226
4. Rory Sutherland (Aus), Health Net-Maxxis, 4:54.669
5. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), CSC, 4:55.098
1. Levi Leipheimer
2. Jason Donald @ 1 sec
3. Ben Jacques-Maynes @ 5 sec
4. Rory Sutherland @ 5 sec
5. Fabian Cancellara @ 6 sec