First stage of Tour of California ends

February 18, 2008 9:46:13 PM PST
Stage one of the Amgen Tour of California sent world class cyclists from Sausalito to Santa Rosa Monday, in a one hundred mile race to the finish.

The Amgen Tour of California kicked off today in the Bay Area. It's a 650-mile race, split up in eight stages, from Palo Alto to Pasadena.

What is the difference between them and you? They're slaves to their bicycles. For us, it's a hobby.

We found Raymond Cogan and friends along Highway 2, which the CHP closed to all except racers, and racing fans, who lined the 100 mile route.

It's exciting -- like a chess game on wheels. If you want to see more of this race, stream it off the internet. The event has become so big that in little Stinson Beach, the population quintupled with race fans.

The town's fire chief, Kenny Stevens, didn't worry about the bikers. The pack of them rolled down the mountain and through town in all of forty seconds, maybe. But their non-carbon neutral support cars kept coming, sometimes in two lanes, like an undeclared second race of its own.

In the meantime, at the finish line, in Santa Rosa, there's an overflow crowd. Many of them drove many miles to get here. Many had hoped to cheer Levi Leipheimer, the local rider who won last year.

Levi led for a while, today, but the second stage win went to Juan Haedo, a CSC rider from Argentina.

His victory was hard fought, but his glory is short lived. The riders leave for Sacramento at 10:00 am Tuesday, on another zig-zagging route.

The Amgen Tour consists of seven stages, plus last Sunday's time trial. Stage two goes from Santa Rosa to Sacramento and then from Modesto to San Jose for stage three on Wednesday. On Thursday, the tour goes from Monterey to San Luis Obispo, and wraps up Sunday in Pasadena.