Friday, November 25, 2011

USA Procycling Challenge, Stage 5.

Stage 5 was a classic in so many ways.  An early break, and hard chase at the finish, and some unfortunate tactical flubs at the finish that doomed any chance the break had. 

I had to pick my spots for watching the race, and figured not better spot would be Swan Mountain.  About ten limes from the finish, Swan Mountain was the only real chance for anyone to put any time in on the competition.  The 'mountain' itself is a short climb - probably about 3 kilometers long - and a pretty light grade, so if anyone was going to make a break it would have to be pretty explosive.  Andy Schleck very nearly put on that show.

We weren't the only ones thinking that Swan Mountain was the place to be, and the party was in full swing when we got there in the morning.  Throughout the day, a pretty steady stream of riders came up the hill.  By noon, a full blown dance party was rocking the summit, so much so that even the cops were having a hard time getting their cars through.
1km from the finish.  The grades ratchets up a bit from here, but the climb is still pretty modest.  Tough to put time into anyone.

A bit of patriotism on show. 

The famous ducks of Swan Mountain.

I rode Swan Mountain in the rain about a month after the race.  The ride started out great, but turned cold and rainy fast.  Between me and Oktoberfest on that ride was Swan Mountain.  Making my way up it, I past any number of Jens Voigt quotes still painted on the road from Stage 5.  If anything is going to make my HTFU, this was it.

There was a lot to take issue with in terms of the race coverage in the early stages, but it did improve through the race.  One point I still have contention with is the coverage of the Break on Swan Mountain.  The break group itself - Andy Schleck, Laurent Ten Dam,Ivan Basso, and Tom Peterson.  We were positioned at the last corner before the summit, maybe 300 meters downhill.  If anyone from the break was going to make a move, it was going to be there.  As expected, Andy jumped right at the corner and managed to put a few seconds in on the rest of the break:
Watching the TV coverage, through, you wouldn't have known it.  The best part of the race, lost.
Ten Dam, Basso, and Peterson, trying to catch Andy's wheel.
The main chase group.
The fans stuck around for the rest of the peloton as it shattered after the climb up Swan Mountain.  The stragglers probably had more fan support that day from the race leaders.  Whether or not that support was appreciated....

One last shot.  Yet another Tigger sighting, this time with Winnie in tow.

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