|Golden Hams of the T-Mobile Int'l:
Photos by Jaime Nichols
- Chris "Hardman" Horner and Mark McCormack (Saturn). On an incredibly difficult course with extremely strong winds and a hugely talented field, these two domestic riders soloed off the front to take the top spots on the podium. Horner had been a hammerhead the day before in San Rafael, and in San Francisco, well, he was pure power. The fact that he was headed out for another lap when he won the race is just a testament to how strong of a rider he is. McCormack did the USPRO Jersey proud, attacking with his teammate until they both had the race by the short ones. We can only hope that Saturn will see fit to stay in the sport, or that another big sponsor will step in to keep this great bag of hammers together.
McCormack, Horner & Ekimov on the Podium
- Jason "Loki" Lokkesmoe (Health Net) and Rolf Aldag (Telekom). Neither of these men made the podium, but their awesome attack together really made the race. Aldag is a huge hammer, and has been doing these sorts of rides in Europe for years. Lokkesmoe, however, was a complete surprise, as he had the race of his life. "Loki" set the pace on the climbs, putting the hurt on Aldag and driving the fans crazy. The huge effort of these men eventually cost them, and they were swept up by the field, but theirs was a Herculean ride that will be remembered for years to come.
- Chris Wherry (Navigators). Wherry had been a major factor in San Rafael, and his long foray off the front of the race in San Francisco did his sponsors proud. Wherry is the kind of powerful rider who could win this race someday. While this wasn?t his year, he can take heart that he attacked some of the best riders in the world and made their thighs burn, and that he'll be back.
- "King" Cesar Grajales (Jittery Joe's Coffee) Hmmm? a small Colombian climber takes the King of the Mountains prize. What a surprise. Two years ago, Grajales was riding on the mountain bike circuit. Last year, he came in 3rd in the mountains competition in San Francisco. This year, Grajales says that he has finally started to feel completely comfortable on his road bike. It showed in the race: I was there as he took the top points a few times up Taylor street, and let me tell you, this guy is for real. He really put the wood to his breakaway companions on that last steep little burst of climbing (where the road tilts up to near vertical). He came to the race solely to win the mountains prize, and once he had the points sewed up, he had to struggle like crazy just to reach the finish. With the help of a teammate, he stuck it out and took home a very nice check. I have a feeling we'll be hearing a lot from this guy in the future.
King of the Mountains Cesar Grajales
Ham-Gazers of the Day
Grazed Hams of the Day
- Lance "El Jefe" Armstrong (United States Postal Service). Okay, Lance can be forgiven for having an off day. The man's personal life is hell right now, his form peaked two months ago, and he reportedly had a virus that was sapping his strength. He pulled out after about fifty miles, which much have been frustrating for Big Tex: he reportedly had been training very hard for the race this year. After all Lance has given to us fans and to American cycling, we can't really complain about this either. Hopefully, Lance will have better luck next year and come out to put on another show in San Francisco.
- Stefano Garzelli (Vini Caldirola) and Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom). It was great to see these guys in person, and it was wonderful to see them climbing up those monstrous climbs. The fact that neither finished the race was disappointing? Simoni was the only big-name Euro rider to finish? but now that they've seen the race, maybe they'll come back next year with a bit more fire in their legs.
- Gord Fraser (Health Net). He had a bandaged elbow and knee from a crash the day before in San Rafael, but he was still off the front for much of the day. He's a sprinter, but he was digging deep to stay with his teammate Lokkesmoe in that five-man break that was going strong for a few big laps. He eventually slipped off the back, but he rode a brave and powerful race and finished with the bunch. Nice job, Gord.
- Gordon "Goldmember" McCauley & Miguel "Amazing" Meza (Schroeder Iron). Schroeder Iron's Kiwi hardman, and Mexican sprinter were in the action all day long, and sitting in about 10th and 11th place coming into the second to the last corner when a rider in front of Meza clipped a pedal and crashed him, and Gordy was forced to a complete stop and a traffic cone to avoid the tangle. Neither one of these two guys is known for climbing, but they worked their skinny arses off to be there on Sunday, and rode like studs. If it hadn't have been for that snafu in the final moments of the race, their little team would have had two men in the top ten, and that's brilliant. Chapeau, boys!
Crazy Jane's San Fran Hamstravaganza
Oh my goodness, was the ham ever tasty in San Fran! Ladies, if you missed out, I'm terribly sorry, because it was truly a feast for the eyes. I was going to just go through the startlist one by one, but after consulting with my panel, I have narrowed it down to a short(er) list, so let's jump right in!
- Chris Horner - What a ride. Chris is a superstud, and he was incredible in San Fran. The best thing about him is the way he never really seems to stop smiling. Chris Horner is the strongest rider in the US by miles, and he deserves this win. I was thrilled to see him come around the last corners with two to go, all alone. Plus, he has a lot of charming freckles and is living proof that bald is beautiful. Rock on, bad boy.
- Mark McCormack America can be proud of our new USPRO Champion; he is the consummate professional. Mark has had a fantastic season, and he looks fabulous in the limelight. The thing I like about Mark is that, in a sport mostly populated by boys, he is a grown man.
- Stephano Garzelli - More proof that bald is beautiful! From his shining pate to his sculpted eyebrows, and all the way down to his fancy Italian shoes, Stephano Garzelli is just amazingly good looking. He is a model example of excellent grooming, and his blue, blue eyes are nothing short of show-stopping... for a minute there, I suspected him of mascara! Then, there's the way he crosses a hotel lobby. My girls and I all agree - Garzelli is the nazz.
Mmmm... Stephano Garzelli
- Gilberto Simoni - A few members of Crazy Jane's panel fell in love with this little Italian dynamo this weekend. Gibo kicked things off well by lighting up an otherwise disastrous pre-race press conference by arriving in rockstar sunglasses and giving a Maglia Rosa to the Mayor. He carried on through the weekend with a heartfelt ride on Sunday, followed by some very excellent hang time in the race hotel lobby. He had long, pointy-toed boots on, a fabulous hairstyle, and most importantly, he was warm and charming to all. If he comes back one day, we will all be very lucky. Crazy Jane's new theme: "GO GIBO!"
Crazy Jane's panel gives a brave Gibo the Thumbs up!
Photo by Greg St. Johns
- In fact, I'm going to need to give an all around award to The Italians - With their always fancy and sometimes inexplicable fashion, and the IMPRESSIVE hair they all seem to be sporting, I am going to have to say that they are all deliziosi. When the Italians come, the fun factor is boosted exponentially, and if they aren't seeking sponsorship in the hair products industry, they are really missing out on a potential goldmine.
- David Clinger - I'm going to keep my comments brief here, but suffice it to say that Mr. Clinger is a delicious example of the American bike racer - not too small, not too skinny, and if this guy does not let up on that crooked little smile of his, I'm afraid some of us will be forced to hunt him down and... Ok. that'll do it.
- Chris Wherry - is another one in the big, delicious American bike racer mold. He rode like a stud (as usual) and looked rather inspiring while he was doing it. On top of that, Mr. Wherry has been known to work some pretty major fashion, and he's extra friendly and charming.
- Viatcheslav Ekimov - What can I tell you? Eki is just hot. The fact that he is 37 years old and still has the power is not making it any easier to hang in the kitchen, either. Eki is just so strong, and so consistently a badass. Thank God that retirement didn't stick; not having the unmitigated pleasure of seeing him in lycra ever again would be a loss indeed!
- Alexander Vinokourov - It was impressive indeed to see this mysterious creature in all of his blond Kazahkstani splendor right here in the US of A. I can confirm that Vino is, as I have long suspected, built like a brick shithouse.
- John Lieswyn - 7-UP/Maxxis' hardest man is not perhaps the most obvious choice here, but I have a soft spot. He's had a great season, and I love to see him win. He's tenacious as hell, usually underestimated but rarely out of the mix, and he's kinda hot, too; though, not in a pretty, pansy kind of way, and as absolutely everyone knows, that's the best way to be kinda hot.
- Mike Jones - Team West Virginia's Mike Jones is a babe, girls. Go get 'im, before it's too late! Or, at the very least, fall in love with him over and over again in his hilarious Spokepost.com diary.
- Race announcer extraordinaire Richard Fries - He's a great dancer, he rules the hills, and his genuine enthusiasm and love of the sport of cycling is palpable and infectious. I love this kid!
Geez! Like I said, I could make a list as long as the startlist, ladies, but I'm spent, so I'll leave you with more pictures from my close associate...
Photos, Photos, and More Photos!
The Start Line
The Fillmore Climb
Fillmore Hill: not for the weak of heart!
Taylor Street & the Flats
Massive crowds on Taylor Street
The Men's Podium