On a day of cool temps and cloud-filled skies, a large crowd gathered to
catch a glimpse of cycling stars from the road and track as they came together
to raise money for the California Firemen's Fund at the inaugural David Witt
Memorial Holiday Cycling Classic in the San Diego Velodrome. However,
there was much more than mere glimpses going on--it was a rare opportunity to
walk up to the likes of Floyd Landis, Dave Zabriskie, Sarah Hammer and Bob Roll,
shake hands and get your photos snapped as these cycling stars spent a casual
day hanging around the track, raising funds for a great cause.
Dr. Brent Kay, personal physician of Tour de France winner Floyd Landis,
organized this benefit to honor five firefighters assigned to a station near his
home in Idyllwild, California who recently lost their lives in the Esperanza fire, as
well as to pay tribute to
Landis' father in law and best friend David Witt, who took his own life last
summer. While the cause was a serious one, there was very little else that
took on a somber tone. Bob Roll brought forth his best material and worked
the crowd with the microphone, as well as taking to the track for the first
time. Racing in a Match Sprint against Robbie Ventura, while broadcasting their
own race with remote mics, it was all Roll could do to hang on and cross the
line. He did look rather sharp in his 7-Eleven skin suit, however, and
promised to never track race again if enough money was raised during the day.
"I reached into my suitcase of courage....and there was nothing!" he deadpanned
to the crowd. When he asked Landis if he thought he was under-geared,
before Floyd could answer Roll exclaimed, "Some French dude calc'd my gearing, that's
what happened!" while the crowd roared in approval.
Landis and Zabriskie had two sprint matches, taking their turn in front of
the appreciative crowd. Imitating the pros in their own game of "cat and
mouse" Floyd managed to out sprint DZ in their first match. Bob Roll
questioned if the orange shoes were giving him some extra help. In the
rematch, however, Zabriskie got the jump on Floyd and evened the score as
he took the second race. Later he chucked his used, slightly sweated on
skin suit onto the podium and it was quickly auctioned off, along with an
authentic Maillot Jaune signed by all the cycling stars on hand for the day.
There was plenty of real track racing going on too, with competitions in the
Keirin, a points race, even a derny race behind scooters,with the commentator
carefully explaining what to expect in each race. The day ended with an
eight-team Madison that took place while the jerseys were being auctioned off.
All in all, it was a day of fun and racing, as well as a time to show support
for the firefighter's fund (www.cpf.org) and
Floyd Landis, too. It was good to see that support is still going
strong for Landis as he heads into 2007 hoping to clear his name.
Rest in peace David, Mark, Jess, Jason, Daniel and Pablo.