The prologue of the 2009 Tour of California is over, and if this is any measure of what the rest of the week will be like, we are in for a crazy ride. The turnout, atmosphere, and production were far beyond anything I had ever expected. For the first time in this career, I felt like I was at a commercial sporting event. NFL, MLB, NASCAR, and now the Amgen Tour of California. I prepared myself coming into this, expecting something incredible, and was still blown away.
The prologue is essentially a time trial; riders leave a starting point at exactly one minute increments, when chips attached to their bikes trigger a timing system. They ride a short course, and about 7 minutes later, (6:38 if you are world champion time trialist and 2009 Tour of California prologue winner Fabian Cancelarra) riders cross the finish line just a few blocks away from the start.
Normally we work in the Mobile PA car like in Georgia, but that didn’t apply today, so my partner Jamie Smith and I were manning the PA at the start, while the infamous Dave Towle and Jeff Roake called the finish. It was, in a word, breathtaking. Lance Armstrong leaves the start house:
(turn your speakers up, sorry about the quality.)
The spectators you see in the video were packed equally as dense around the entire roughly 3 mile course.
I’m staying at the same hotel as the teams, the lobby and restaurant are crawling with well dressed Europeans. I got a kick out of Jamie’s blog post here. I know what you are wondering, and no, Lance is not staying here, he is undoubtedly hidden in a posh compound somewhere far away from the likes of me, and rightfully so. There was an incredible turnout for him, with adoring fans swarming him at any public appearance.
Tomorrow is set to be an equally if not more incredible day, as we take to the beautiful roads of California in our new mobile PA vehicle (never driven, brand new Volvo XC60.) Check back for more pics and video.