Yesterday, stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California raced through Tahoe. The men’s course for the day began in Lodi and ended in South Lake Tahoe at the base of Heavenly Ski Resort. How often does a major cycling event happen in your neck of the woods? Even here in South Lake Tahoe it only has happened once prior. I’m not even familiar with cycling, but I couldn’t miss this opportunity to see it in person!
Peloton – What’s that?
An odd word you’ll hear when you are watching a cycling event is the term “Peloton.” There is usually a main group of cyclists and the “chase” group. This main group where most riders are, is what the term refers to. Of course, there can be more than one chase group, but no matter what there is always a main group of riders and this is called the “Peloton.” In Stage 5 of the Tour of California there were over a 120 cyclists mere inches apart in the Peloton!
Like a pack of wild horses the Peloton rushes in
Words can’t explain the excitement of seeing a race come through. Before the first racer arrives, a car blazes the course with a huge loud speaker hyping the crowd and reporting the first riders will be coming into view in a few minutes. This car is then followed by a wave of police ensuring the course was clear and secure. The first small group rushes past, followed by another, then the Peloton can be seen peaking over the horizon down the road. Like a pack of wild horses they can be seen jockeying for position as they take over the entire street. The sensation of being so close to the cyclists as they push for the finish is invigorating. The crowd roared, cheering on their favorite teams and riders as the contestants peddled by.
Another oddity for this first time spectator was the water bottles. I know you are questioning me, but let me explain. As the competitors wiz by a steady stream water bottles are being tossed to the crowd and on the sides of the roadway. After they pass, there are plastic water bottles strewn everywhere! Being a collector, this was truly cool! To actually own some memorabilia from the event is thrilling. We are lucky enough to get one each from the Jelly Belly Team, Giant Team and the Specialized Team.
More than one way to win?
In almost any sport that you can think of there is only one champion. Well, in professional cycling it’s a bit different. There are multiple ways to win. This means there are multiple championships being battled for in the same race! Each day a winner is crowned for these sub races and awarded a jersey for their stage appereance. The categories and explanations are listed below.
This signifies the person who has the fastest time across the entire length of the race
This is for the cyclist who scores the most points across the entire length of the race. These point are based on certain parts that are signified as “sprint” stages.
King / Queen of the Mountain Jersey
Similar to the sprint jersey except for the rider who is the strongest climber of the day wins.
Most Courageous Jersey
This is the coolest jersey in our opinion. The winner of this jersey lays it all on the line. It’s awarded to the individual that exemplifies courage, sacrifice, inspiration, determination and perseverance. This means he/she is the one that goes for it!
Best Young Rider Jersey
This is as is sounds. The rider with the fastest course completion of the day under 26 years of age is crowned the winner.
Warm up for Tour De France
The Amgen Tour of California is a warm up for the Tour De France. It was a great opportunity to view such high level talent my first time out. You have to be there to catch the vibe and really get the feel for an event of this magnitude. In case you missed it or want a recap check out the video below.