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Tuesday, February 21, 2006


The most physically demanding of sports

… for me, anyway.

Today’s assignment was the 2006 Amgen Tour of California, a new bike race in the style of the Tour de France. The Daily’s coverage was a team effort with four photographers at different places along the route. I volunteered to stake out Sierra Road, the “signature climb” of the tour, which rises 1800 vertical feet over about four miles.

The summit of Sierra Road is one lane and a cliff, so forget about parking. If the giant media credential around my neck got me anything today, it sure wasn’t a ride to the summit. I hoofed it with a laptop, two camera bodies, and three or four lenses. That took a couple hours. The riders arrived soon after, I got a solid two minutes of shooting in, and then it was time to hike back down. Never have I sweated so much in the name of photography.

These two made the cut:

George Hincapie

Team Discovery captain George Hincapie, right, climbs Sierra Road in San Jose Tuesday during Stage 2 of the Tour of California. Hincapie went on to win the stage and is the overall leader entering Stage 3.


A pack of racers ascends Sierra Road with Silicon Valley in the background during Stage 2 of the Tour of California Tuesday.

This would have made the cut if I had been able to identify the CSC rider on the right, but I don’t have a shot with his number visible, and all bike racers look pretty much the same. Update 2/25/06 — I’ve finally identified him as David Zabriskie, a serious American rider formerly on the USPS team, who as of tonight could well win the tour.)

David Zabriskie

CSC’s David Zabriskie pedals up Sierra Road during Stage 2 of the Tour of California Tuesday. Zabriskie finished the stage in 9th place.

This shot made no cut of any kind, but I like it.

Nicolas Jalabert

Frenchman Nicolas Jalabert, riding for Phonak, ascends San Jose’s Sierra Road Tuesday during Stage 2 of the Tour of California. Jalabert finished 36th in the stage.

On the way back down the hill, I was surprised to see a few stragglers. I still had a camera ready, so I got some good shots of the … how you say … less famous pro cyclists.

Jesus Zarate

Jesus Zarate, riding for the KB Home Mexican National Team, struggles up Sierra Road during Stage 2 of the Tour of California Tuesday in San Jose. Zarate finished the stage in 116th place, nearly 18 minutes behind stage winner George Hincapie.

Martin Gilbert

Canada’s Martin Gilbert of the Kodak Gallery.com/Sierra Nevada team tackles the Sierra Road climb. Gilbert finished the stage in 113th place.

More photos, video, and the full story at the Spartan Daily.