Live Report Archive: 2009 AToC Stage 1 (Davis to Santa Rosa)

12:02 PM: Good day and welcometo's Live Coverage of the first stage of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California, a rainy, rainy ride from Davis to Santa Rosa. It's been raining for hours here in Northern California and riders are being called to the line. The boys from Saxo Bank, however, are among many who seem content to remain hunkered down in their busses. But the formal start should be soon.

  • 12:02 PM: Good day and welcome

    to’s Live Coverage of the first stage of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California, a rainy, rainy ride from Davis to Santa Rosa.

    It’s been raining for hours here in Northern California and riders are being called to the line. The boys from Saxo Bank, however, are among many who seem content to remain hunkered down in their busses. But the formal start should be soon.

  • 12:13 PM: On their way

    It’s a few trips around the circuit in Davis before the real racing begins. There will be a total of 5.3km of neutral parade lap through town. The crowds are quite good, although most of the fans are bundled up against the rain.

    In Davis, the rain has slowed.

    It’s going to be a tough day in the saddle.

    Race leader Fabian Cancellara is reporting that he’s suffering from some flu symptoms. We’ll see if he can hold that jersey after this long ride.

    Right now the GC Picture is as follows:
    1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), Saxo Bank, 4:32
    2. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Astana, at 0:02
    3. David Zabriskie (USA), Garmin-Slipstream at 0:03
    4. Michael Rogers Team (USA), Columbia-High Road, at 0:03
    5. Thor Hushovd (Nor), Cervélo Test Team, 0:04
    6. George Hincapie (USA), Team Columbia-High Road, at 0:04
    7. Tom Boonen (B), Quick Step, at 0:04
    8. Mark Renshaw (Aus), Team Columbia-High Road at 0:05
    9. Svein Tuft (Can), Garmin-Slipstream, at 0:05
    10. Lance Armstrong (USA), Astana at 0:05

  • 12:19 PM: The road ahead

    It’s a long ride today, 107 miles and riders will be hitting three rated climbs.

    At 27 miles, there is a Category 4. (4, 3, 2 and 1 point)
    At 60 miles, there is Cat. 2 climb up Howell Mtn (with points beginning at 8 and awarded in one-point intervals)
    At 83 miles, there is a Cat. 4 climb up Petrified Forest Road.

    There are two sprint marks – the first at 15 miles and the second at 80 miles.

  • 12:20 PM: With 9.6 miles covered

    We are receiving reports of a break involving several Astana riders, but we need to get confirmation of that.

  • 12:25 PM: Stolen bikes

    By now you’ve heard that someone broke into the Astana van last night and scampered off with four of the team’s time trial bikes.

    Shocking revelation that it is, the news apparently woke up our good buddy Patrick O’Grady and prompted him to write an insta-rant on the subject. If you get a chance, take a look at our front page to see how a cranky old Irishman, hunkered down in his bunker at an undisclosed location, has to say about this theft.

    Back in the Live Update Guy’s home turf, our favorite bike shop in the world hands out small bike stickers that warn “We still hang bike thieves in Wyoming.” Maybe we’ll send a few of those to the Astana crew.

  • 12:29 PM: Questions? Comments? Complaints?

    If you have a comment, an astute observation, a question or a complaint, go ahead and hit the “contact our editors” button below the Live Update Window.

    If you need to contact our Live Update Guy directly, feel free to drop him a direct shout at

  • 12:31 PM: It’s raining, it’s pouring

    in Santa Rosa. It’s February in California … not much of a surprise. It’s kinda like a good week at Paris-Nice.

  • 12:37 PM: We have a confession to make

    You are probably already aware of the fact that the LUG doesn’t ride along with the peloton typing in updates on his iPhone. We are often dependent video feeds in the press room and we’re flying blind today.

    The weather has apparently iced over some of the aircraft and we’re not getting a signal. We’re doing a lot of phoning, texting and (despite its marginally obscene name) twittering to get you reports as soon as possible.

    We are thinking of tying a couple dozen helium balloons to a lawn chair and sending O’Grady up with a cell phone. Remarkably, he’s not cooperating and has proven himself to be quite fast for an old man.

  • 12:39 PM: Pssssssssssssss

    Race radio is reporting that Saxo Bank’s Jason McCartney, Colavita’s Aaron Olsen and Chris Baldwin (Rock) are all getting mechanical assistance.

  • 12:44 PM: The break

    Okay, a little clarification.
    Today’s break did not include any Astana riders like we’d originally heard.

    We did have a break initiated by Francisco Mancebo (Rock Racing) and he was joined by Tim Johnson (OUCH) and David Kemp (Fly V Australia P/b Successful)

    We should get a time gap soon.

  • 12:48 PM: VeloCenter

    If you haven’t checked it out yet, now might be a good time to take a look at the latest VeloCenter program. It’s a new approach to video by our crew at, and it’s getting better every day, in our most humble opinion.

  • 12:53 PM: Funny thought

    Our GPS early on in the stage showed that several Astana riders were off the front.

    Maybe that was the reading from the stolen bikes.

    Meanwhile, Mancebo has taken the day’s first sprint. and he’s followed by Johnson and Kemp in that order.

  • 12:55 PM: In Santa Rosa

    The women’s criterium is about to start. It sure would be terrific some day to see a women’s STAGE race in connection with this grand event. Tough as it is, the old Coors Classic managed to offer some stellar racing for both … oh no… the Live Update Guy is lapsing into back-in-my-day speak. Sorry.

  • 12:56 PM: The time gaps

    Mancebo has a nice 2:45 lead on the field and Johnson and Kemp are still in pursuit, trailing by about 45 seconds. It may do the Rock boy some good to ease off a bit and get some help, if he wants to stay away for the day.

  • 01:06 PM: At 24 miles

    The route is 107 miles today and wet riders have covered about 24 of that so far.

  • 01:09 PM: Mancebo

    is pounding it out on the pedals, while the rest of the field seems to be saying “yeah, yeah, whatever.” He’s now six minutes ahead of the field.

  • 01:18 PM: On the climb

    After a nice chat with director sportif Rudy Pevenage, Mancebo continues to ride and is now on the day’s first climb. The gap to the chasers is 38 seconds and nearly 6:00 to the peloton.

  • 01:25 PM: Thirty seconds

    Johnson and Kemp have pulled Mancebo back a bit on the climb. The peloton, meanwhile, is ambling along, trailing by 6:00 now.

  • 01:27 PM: Mancebo is

    race leader and KOM on the road now. He’s over the top of the day’s first climb.

  • 01:28 PM: Mancebo

    added more time near the top. Johnson and Kemp crossed at 1:35. Let’s see how this descent goes.

  • 01:33 PM: Down, down, down

    Our three leaders are heading down the descent. It’s wet, twisty and a tad on the dicey side in this weather. It probably helps to be by yourself or in a group of two, as opposed to having 134 of your closest friends with you on this one.

  • 01:39 PM: Caught

    We have three men up front.

    Johnson and Kemp made up a nice chunk of time on the descent. So now the situation on the road is that we have three men – Mancebo, Johnson and Kemp – with more than 9:00 on the peloton.

    It’s going to take more of a gap than that if they hope to stay away, but the weather is both a help and hindrance for the break today.

  • 01:44 PM: You chase…

    … no you chase.

    The gap is now up to 9:21 and the peloton is on cruise control. Saxo Bank is holding back and not putting in a huge effort. It may be that the onus may fall to Astana if anyone in that crew is worried about the men in the break. There is certainly no urgency at this point.

  • 01:54 PM: And in the women’s side

    The women’s criterium is over. Emilia Fahlin (Columbia-Highroad) wins the women’s crit. We’ll get you some results here ASAP.

  • 01:55 PM: Columbia

    is cruising at the front of the peloton. The gap, however, is approaching 10 minutes.

  • 01:58 PM: Make that 12 minutes

    The three up front are working and extending their lead over the main field.

  • 02:02 PM: Reader Question

    Is Lance Armstrong going to do the Leadville trail 100 race this year? The field has been invited and we would like to know. Thanks. Lisa

    We’re not really certain, Lisa, but if we were betting men, we’d have to wager that he won’t be there. He is planning to ride the Tour de France and the Leadville, if memory serves, is in early August. With a focus on the road, we’d have to guess that he won’t be there … but who knows for sure?

  • 02:04 PM: Reader Question

    Hello Live Update Guy,
    Just wondering where your home turf is and what your favorite bike shop in the world is after you wrote this earlier:

    “Back in the Live Update Guy’s home turf, our favorite bike shop in the world hands out small bike stickers that warn ‘We still hang bike thieves in Wyoming.’ Maybe we’ll send a few of those to the Astana crew.”
    That’s my favorite bumper sticker!
    Tim Dudley
    Jackson Hole, WY

    The Live Update Guy calls Laramie, Wyoming, home. We get those stickers from the Pedal House down on First Street in Laramie.

    Normally, we’re not supporters of capital punishment, but bike thieves may deserve some special consideration.

  • 02:06 PM: Neal Rogers is a twitter fan

    Neal Rogers is twitpic-ing photos to the @velonewslive twitter account.. The latest is Mancebo along at the Napa County line.

    With all aircraft grounded due to inclement weather Neal has agreed to be launched over the peloton using an ACME catapult, provided by Wile E. Coyote Enterprises, carrying a handheld digital video cam.

  • 02:17 PM: For you television fans

    We know that Versus was scheduled to begin Live coverage about 15 minutes ago. We just wanted to assure you that those two guys beating the crap out of each other on the tube are not Lance Armstrong and Paul Kimmage.

    It appears that the weather may have delayed plans to air the race.

  • 02:23 PM: A reader comment

    Hi Charles!
    Mt. Howell is a beast—what does a climb need to profile like to be considered Hors categorie?


    We agree, Matt, Howell Mountain is a tough climb, but it doesn’t rise to the level of what constitutes an hors categorie climb. Look at some of the great climbs of the Tour and the Giro are longer and have ramps even steeper.

    So, how are mountain climbs categorized?

    There are no set rules on how the organizer can categorize hills or mountains. This is how the Tour de France climbs are defined:
    The easiest is a Category 4, which is typically less than 2km long and about 5 percent grade, or up to 5km at a 2-3 percent grade.

    A Category 3 can be as short as one mile with a very steep grade, perhaps 10 percent; or as long as six miles with a grade less than 5 percent.

    A Category 2 can be as short as 5km at 8 percent, or as long as 15km at 4 percent

    A Category 1, once the highest category, can be anything from 8km at 8 percent to 20km at 5 percent.

    An hors catégorie (“above category”) rating is given to exceptionally tough climbs. This could either be a Category 1 whose summit is also the finish of the stage, or one that is more than 10km long with an average grade of at least 7.5 percent, or up to 25km miles long at 6 percent or steeper.

  • 02:25 PM: There’s been a crash in the main field

    We’ve not received full details, but we do know that Lance Armstrong had a flat tire. He’s back in the field, though.

  • 02:30 PM: Word from the rumor mill

    is that race leader Fabian Cancellara has pulled out. We’re flying blind, so we don’t have too many details at this point.

    We tried catapulting Neal Rogers for an aerial view, but the wire from his headphone/mic combo tangled up in the machinery and he didn’t get too far.

  • 02:33 PM: Cancellara out

    Word over race radio is that our race leader has withdrawn, due to his flu symptoms and not due to any mishap on the road.

  • 02:43 PM: Past the halfway point

    We have about 48 miles left in the race. We haven’t had a ton of information over the last 60 miles.

    Word is that Armstrong not only had a flat, but he also hit the deck at one point. No permanent damage, and he’s up and riding.

  • 02:48 PM: How much rain?

    We have word of 0.81 inch of rain by 10 a.m. at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport in northern Santa Rosa. There were 1,500 Sonoma County PG&E customers who lost power in 20 scattered outages.

    A volunteer rain collector reported .95 inch in Santa Rosa.

    All of that means it’s wet.

  • 02:49 PM: The gap

    at last report is holding at about 12 minutes. Our three leaders are climbing Howell Mountain.

  • 02:53 PM: Reader comment/question

    Hey Charles,
    Ugly weather. Just looked at the radar. The ONLY weather system on the West Coast is centered right over today’s course, and it’s going to hang in until just about the time the race ends. How’s that for timing?

    Have you thought about putting Neil on some of Wile E.’s rocket propelled in-line skates? Could be spectacular…

    Yeah, we spotted that, too. It is an interesting coincidence and proof that no matter how well-organized, no race promoter can affect every aspect of a race.

    As for the skates … good idea.

  • 02:58 PM: From the VeloNews police blotter:

    Actually, it’s the latest on bike theft, from the Sacramento Bee.

    Says officer Konrad Von Schoech, a spokesman for the Sacramento Police Department: “This is not just a property crime … these bikes are in the thousands and thousands of dollars,”

    “This is definitely different: this is a high-profile victim, during a high-profile event, and a high value object.”

    The bikes were stolen from an unmarked moving truck parked in the alley behind the Residence Inn at 1501 L St. between 10 p.m. Saturday and 6:45 a.m. Sunday
    No other vehicle break-ins were reported.

    Ben Coates, Trek liaison: “Just found a couple of spare bikes for the team to use until we can replace the stolen bikes. Thanks, Trek Travel!”

  • 02:59 PM: 10:40

    Are Kemp, Johnson and Mancebo fading? Or is the peloton picking it up?

    The three leaders are about 3.5km from the top of the climb of Howell Mountain.

  • 03:01 PM: TV

    Well, we were an hour off about Versus, (but our mistake at least allowed us to make an Armstrong/Kimmage joke).

    It looks like they will be almost as blind as we are… though we are getting a bit of a look from the air. No Moto feed yet.

  • 03:07 PM: With 101km covered

    our three leaders are still at 10:40 ahead of the field.

  • 03:14 PM: We’re getting some

    copter shots on the video feed, but it looks like the plane that relays the signal from the motos is still not up there.

    If AToC can’t get plane up, maybe they could borrow a giant inflatable Snoopy from the Schultz family. Or do they keep those at Macy’s?

  • 03:15 PM: Questions? Comments? Complaints?

    If you have a comment, an astute observation, a question or a complaint, go ahead and hit the “contact our editors” button below the Live Update Window.

    If you need to contact our Live Update Guy directly, feel free to drop him a direct shout at

  • 03:18 PM: Mancebo

    appears to have shed his company again. He crested the summit of Howell ahead of the other two, but they may well catch him on the way down.

    Meanwhile the gap is still at 10:35.

  • 03:23 PM: Word from a local

    Mad props to the world’s best cyclists for riding through Angwin, my hometown (even though I’m now at school on the east coast)!

    But watch out, fellas: the way down Howell Mtn Road is straight and very very fast, and there’s a nasty bend called Devil’s Elbow where the slick roads could provide trouble . . .

  • 03:26 PM: Mancebo

    is out on his own. Johnson and Kemp have lost four minutes.

    There is a chase group of 19 riders that has moved ahead of the peloton, but we don’t have a gap. The gap between Mancebo and the peloton is still more than 10 minutes.

  • 03:28 PM: It is pouring at the finish line

    It’s raining harder. It looks bad for us ever getting a moto feed today. It’s wet and it’s windy out on the road.

  • 03:39 PM: That chase group

    Well, well, well, that chase group that moved out of the peloton is actually composed of some pretty heavy hitters.

    Included are Armstrong, Leipheimer, Horner and Rubiera for Astana, Gesink from Rabobank, Basso and Nibali from Liquigas, Andy Schleck and Voigt from Saxo Bank, Sevilla from Rock (he won’t be working) and, Landis, McCarty and Southerland from OUCH.

    How’s that for firepower?

    Well, the group got away for a while and extend its lead to about 1:30 over the peloton. That has been trimmed to about 20 seconds. Mancebo, meanwhile, is pounding away and still 10 minutes up the road.

  • 03:49 PM: To accommodate the rain

    race officials are invoking what many of us started calling the “Levi Rule” in 2007.

    The peloton will be awarded GC time based on the first trip through the finishing circuit today.

    In 2007, they applied that rule retroactively, keeping Leipheimer from losing time due to a big crash on that same circuit.

    This year, that may actually cost him since Mancebo is still off the front and now Astana has less time to catch our boy. Michael Ball must be dancing in his overpriced denim on that news.

  • 03:50 PM: Time gaps

    Mancebo is now 5:20 ahead of his two closest chasers and the peloton is at more than 7:00.

  • 03:52 PM: Rain

    The roads are still wet in Santa Rosa, but the rain has stopped.

  • 03:56 PM: Kemp and Johnson

    are back in the 23-man chase group. These guys are 5:40 behind Mancebo. The rest of the peloton is at 6:20.

  • 04:00 PM: Mancebo

    is powering along and he’s holding a five-minute advantage over the 23-man chase group and 6:00 on the main field.

  • 04:01 PM: Mancebo is taking a feed

    from the Rock Racing Cadillac… not a sight you’d see at the Tour de France.

  • 04:05 PM: How much is left?

    Mancebo has about 24 miles (38.5km) to go. Now imagine you district time trial championship (40k) after being in the saddle this long

  • 04:07 PM: Well, they did the math

    and now the officials have reconsidered their take on the “Levi Rule” and will now apply GC times at the end and not when they cross through the finish area for the first time through.

    No comment.

  • 04:08 PM: It’s still raining out on the road

    While the rain has eased up at the finish, it’s raining hard out on the road.

  • 04:15 PM: The gap

    from Mancebo back to the chase group is around 3:00.

    Mancebo is not going to make it. We do feel for him.

    The peloton is another minute or so back.

    And now we’re getting word that in fact the GC clock will be stopped as riders cross the line for the first time into the circuit, so even if he is caught before the finish, it looks like Mancebo will get the yellow jersey tonight. We need to clear up the confusion surrounding these decisions. Is it that we’re getting bad info or are these guys really changing their minds this often?

  • 04:18 PM: Mancebo

    Is heading into Santa Rosa. Levi rule or none, he’s doing his best to stay away.

  • 04:23 PM: Mancebo

    is still 3:00 ahead of the field. He is entering the final circuits in Santa Rosa. He has about 9 miles (15km) to go. Is he going to hold it?

    It’s doubtful. He has some real horsepower driving at the front of the chase group.

  • 04:24 PM: All Astana

    It’s Levi Leipheimer, Lance Armstrong, Chechu Rubiera and Chris Horner at the front of the chase group. It makes sense. Astana has the most to gain – and the most to lose – in this situation right now.

  • 04:25 PM: Mancebo

    is driving hard in a pouring rain. He is checking his watch as he goes through the finish area for the first time…
    He has three laps of the circuit remaining. We’ll get a clean time check soon.

  • 04:27 PM: Oh man

    The gap is down to 1:10.

    If, as we assume, he gets caught, he’ll still be the race leader since the GC clock was already tripped.

  • 04:31 PM: Landis

    has been dropped from the chase group. He’s about to be pulled in by another, third, chase group.

  • 04:32 PM: Wet, wet, wet

    It’s really raining out there.

    The Leipheimer chase group is down to about 17 riders.

  • 04:34 PM: Time gap

    Mancebo came through the finish line (with two laps to go – about 10k) 1:40 ahead of the Leipheimer group.

    That means he’s putting time on those guys. It is miserable out there.

  • 04:38 PM: It’s getting dark

    With all of this rain and such, it’s tough to see what’s going on out there.

    Nibali is chasing Mancebo and he’s at about 20 seconds. It looks like there is a Quick Step rider chasing, too. It’s hard to discern, though, since everyone seems to be wearing gray rain jackets. His blue shorts seem to be those of the Quick Step team. Who is that guy?

  • 04:40 PM: Mancebo

    For a guy who has been out there all day, he looks good.

    Nibali, is about to catch him though, with one lap to go.

  • 04:42 PM: Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas)

    Has now caught Mancebo and he’s much fresher than the Rock rider. It looks like the Quick Step is Jurgen Van De Walle … how did these two get away from a group that includes virtually all of the heavy hitters at the race?

    The Armstrong chase group is now more than 2:00 back. That’s a sign that they know the GC clock is over for the day, but the three guys ahead also have the stage win to consider. One of them is going to get that honor, since no one else seems to be chasing hard.

  • 04:44 PM: We’re pushing five hours

    of saddle time, painfully long for a 100-mile race.

  • 04:45 PM: Jurgen Van De Walle

    from Quick Step is about 40 seconds behind Nibali and Mancebo. The chase group, which includes Armstrong, Leipheimer and Horner, is at 2:00.

  • 04:46 PM: It’s raining, it’s pouring

    There has been no let-up in the rain.

  • 04:47 PM: Van de Walle makes the bridge

    Of the three men up front, he’s clearly the best sprinter and we’re coming up to the finish.

  • 04:48 PM: Coming into the final km

    We’re less than 1km to go.

  • 04:48 PM: Holy Moly!

    Mancebo attacks and beats these guys!

    Now that one is deserved!

  • 04:50 PM: Mancebo is going to be in yellow.

    Mancebo, who spent almost all day out on the front, wins the stage and gets the overall lead. It’s a nice pay-off for a tough day in the saddle. Nice work.

    Now we have to see how far back the Armstrong/Leipheimer group is.

  • 04:50 PM: Armstrong and crew

    Come through at about 1:00. They have tightened up the gap, but that’s still a minute. Rock Racing will have its work cut out for it, but the bottom line is that Mancebo rode a brilliant race today. Normally when you see an early break go up the road you expect him to be caught, which he was – twice – but you never expect a rider who is caught to actually have enough in reserve to scamper off the front again for the stage win. It’s not often you see something like that. No matter what, it was a deserved win. Good work.

  • 04:52 PM: The peloton

    is still out there.

  • 04:59 PM: The peloton

    comes through at about five minutes.

    Well, we’ll see Mancebo in yellow. It should set up an interesting dynamic over the next few days.

    Here is what the new GC picture looks like after today’s weather-affected stage:
    Top 15, after Stage 1
    1. Francisco Mancebo (Sp), Rock Racing in 04:15:46
    2. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Astana, at 01:02
    3. David Zabriskie (USA), Garmin-Slipstream, at 01:03
    4. Michael Rogers (Aus), Team Columbia-High Road, at 01:03
    5. Lance Armstrong (USA), Astana, at 01:05
    6. Christopher Horner (USA), Astana, at 01:09
    7. Thomas Lövkvist (S), Team Columbia-High Road, at 01:13
    8. José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Sp), Astana, at 01:13
    9. Vincenzo Nibali (I), Liquigas, at 01:13
    10. Robert Gesink (Nl), Rabobank, at 01:14
    11. Oscar Sevilla (Sp), Rock Racing, at 01:14
    12. Jens Voigt (G), Team Saxo Bank, at 01:15
    13. Steve Morabito (Swi), Astana, at 01:15
    14. Jurgen Van De Walle (B), Quick Step, at 01:16
    15. Ivan Basso (I), Liquigas, at 01:17

    You might notice that Nibali and Van de Walle are the two riders who suffered the most immediate impact of the special ruling today. They were both with the chase group when they crossed the finish line for the first time, meaning they got the same GC time as did the rest in that bunch. That means that they will not appear high up on GC, but one has to consider the fact that they probably would not have managed to escape the group had there been time on the line at that point. Indeed, it’s likely that Mancebo would have been pulled back if that fierce chase group had reason to pound it out over the final few kilometers.

    Anyway, folks. It’s been an interesting day. We do apologize for the technical issues we had because of the weather today.

    Check back soon for a complete race report, photos and results.

    We’ll see you tomorrow, when the peloton races across the Golden Gate Bridge on a ride from Sausalito to Santa Cruz.