This Marshal’s Eyes, Stage 4

| February 21, 2008 10:00 pm

by Rick Madden

Most of you were at Stage 3 from Modesto to San Jose, so I won’t bore you with the details. I will pass on the gossip that came up this morning…the Mt. Hamilton/Sierra one-two punch may not appear in future ToC tours…there were gripes about it being too tough/too early in the season. Maybe Bettini griped…he was looking very tired on Piedmont yesterday.

I also heard that the University Police on the top of Mt. Ham was going overboard with the spectators, telling cyclists that they could not be up there to watch. I guess CHP took over the situation and tour organizers kinda told him “uh, we kinda like the spectators up here!”

I started Stage 4 off at Bixby Bridge on Big Sur. My crowd consisted mostly media looking for the big money shot on the bridge. That never materialized, as the gusts were probably hitting 50 to 60 mph, cloudy skies and bands of rain passing through. Rock Racing came through about an hour before the peloton, with Tyler Hamilton leading the group. Micheal Ball was supposed to be riding with them, but apparently found the comfort of his Rolls too much to pass up.

One car rolled up and asked what time I expected the peloton. The driver proudly introduced himself as my nemesis, Elk Man. He was eying Bixby Bridge, probably in hope of getting some TV coverage. You may have seen him yesterday on Mt. Hamilton.

What Elk Man didn’t realize was that I was the marshal who had him physically pulled off the course in San Jose last year and detained by the police. I reminded him of that incident, and  informed him that we wouldn’t have any problems as long as he stayed off the course. I guess he didn’t care for that too much and headed down the road in search of a better location. I love Elk Man hunting…

I was dropped off about 9:00…the first sighting of the small breakaway group was about an hour and a half later. There was six riders about 30 seconds ahead of a chase group…the last rider in the break actually got blown to a dead stop in the middle of the road as he came around an exposed bluff. He circled his bike once and jumped back on…. it was like this for these guys all day.

My van picked me up about an hour after the caravan passed by me. We headed north and cut over to Salinas, then south on 101 to SLO. We appeared to be the first marshals to arrive in SLO, so we manned the course from 300 meters to the finish line. I was stationed at the 50 meter mark at a crosswalk…the judges want nobody inside the french the last 100 meters, so we knew we would have to shut down the crosswalk as the race got within city limits. However, we still had an hour and a half to go before the race reached us.

The crowd, considering the weather, was great. They had stood out in the cold rain for quite awhile before we arrived and were prepared to continue to do so until the sprint. The announcers were earning their money keeping the crowd enthused and interested. We watched as they were handed fact cards about each racer, passing tidbits of information to the crowd.

Seven hours after the start Rollins crossed the line, with Big George leading the chase group. It was anti-climatic to say the least, after all the waiting.

The flu is taking down many of the members of both the teams and the support staff. Health Net told on of the marshals that a few of their riders were riding sick.

Tomorrow is the Solvang TT, and the weather doesn’t look like it was improving much. Keep your fingers crossed…it should be exciting with some TT specialists chasing after Levi’s yellow jersey!

No Responses to “This Marshal’s Eyes, Stage 4”

Care to comment?