Wednesday, September 5, 2007

US Pro Cycling Championships - Greenville, SC

This falls under the heading of wishes do come true. Maybe The Secret is on to something. One of my co-workers/friend lives in North Carolina but not too far from Greenville, South Carolina. He had an opportunity to attend the US Pro Championships and he sent me these pictures as well as the included commentary.

My Chris writes:

We went down to Greenville on Sunday to see the road race. Zabriskie won the time trial the day before, just like last year. The race is 110 miles, 4 loops from downtown up Paris Mountain (1000 feet of climb) and back, with a final 5 circuits of downtown. Our friends live at the top of Paris Mountain, so we watched as they climbed, crested and then started to bomb down. It was cool because we hung out with some support crew that had good inside scoop and gossip. Apparently the big controversy was over Craig Lewis of the Slipstream team. He’s a popular local Greenville rider who wasn’t allowed to race by his Director Sportif (Jonathan Vaughters) – he was told to stay and continue racing in Europe. The Slipstream team had “Where’s Craig” buttons to protest.

Watching the race was extraordinarily interactive. As they’re cresting the hill, fans are dousing them with water, talking with the riders, pushing them a few yards. Because of the multiple laps, you get to see them again every 45 minutes. The group of 100 started as a pretty tight peloton, but by the fourth climb it was really strung out. George trains on this hill…the best times from bottom to top are in the 9-minute range. Apparently there’s only about 20 guys in the nation that can keep up that pace four times. Last year it was 5 laps, but only 20 guys completed the race. This year they took a lap off and added circuits of downtown. Still, George complained that nobody was racing for first (and thus helping him to catch up to Levi!)…everybody was just hanging back and trying to survive. By the last climb, Levi was out in front and moving like it was his first lap. George and a few others were a minute behind and weren’t able to catch up. Only 30 of 110 riders finished. I guess climbing 1000 feet four times isn’t too hard when you’ve been climbing 6000 feet of Pyrenees and Alps in one stage.

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