Broad Street in Nevada City

Amgen, The Greatest Three Minutes in Nevada City History

(Sunday May 16, 2010)


It was one of the greatest three minutes in Nevada City history, and a matter of minutes before the 127 racers whizzed by cheering, cowbell-ringing fans in Nevada City and Grass Valley, then launched into the rest of the 104-mile course toward the Stage 1 finish line in Sacramento.

Although the spectacle was short lived, the star power of seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, and three-time defending Amgen winner Levi Leipheimer, drew huge crowds into the warm sunshine. It's estimated 10,000 or more people came to downtown Nevada City, with thousands more in Grass Valley and along county roads. Spectators lined downtown sidewalks and  long stretches of Ridge Road and Highway 174.

The four-year-old, 850-mile tour started in Nevada City for the first time this year, with much thanks to the 50-year tradition of the Nevada City Classic bicycle race. The Amgen race garnered attention from major media outlets and will be broadcast live on the channel Versus. We watched it from around two in the afternoon to the end of the race live on our computer live from a helicopter. It got everyone's attention regardless of age and interests. Read  Jeff Ackerman's personal experience getting the money shot of Lance Armstrong.

The Amgen race is the most important American cycling contest, and even attracted top-flight riders away from the long-standing Giro d'Italia, which runs concurrently.

Riders before the race from left to right...George Hincapie, Mark Cavendish, David Zabriskie, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Y. Schleck and Fabian Cancella.

Tim making a movie, Margie's taking pictures...and Brent on Broad Street.

Gearing up on Broad Street.

Sue took the following three photos below as the riders travel up Zion Street towards Ridge Road.

Linda sent me this view of the riders on Ridge Road and Via Vista.

The escorting cars carry mechanics who fix things, provide riders with energy snacks and drinks on the go so they keep up with everyone else.

Mark Cavendish is the winner of Stage 1 from Nevada City to Sacramento. Juan Jose Haedo is a close second. Alexander Kristoff was third.

Flowers to the winner and...


Sacramento's Mayor Kevin Johnson presents Mark with a painting.

Three champions of the celebrate their win. Mark Cavendish was first, and is a 10 time Tour de France stage winner who rides for the American HTC-Columbia team, was timed unofficially to have made the 104.2 mile first stage from Nevada City in 4 hours, ten minutes and 6 seconds. Juan Jose Haedo  (Saxo Bank) of Argentina was second, and Norwegian Alexander Kristoff (BMC) was third in the same time.

Continuing The Race

Brett Lancaster wins Stage 2 Member of the Cervelo Test Team proved the strongest of the survivors on a rainy second stage of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California. He led a reduced bunch that survived a hilly 110.1-mile ride from Davis to Santa Rosa, and nabbed the leader's gold jersey to boot.

David Zabriskie takes Stage 3 Zabriskie, a member of the Garmin Transitions team, finished in 4 hours, 26 minutes and 9 seconds to take over the yellow jersey as the Tour's overall leader. "Coming into Santa Cruz was beautiful," Zabriskie said. "The sun came out, amazing crowds and ol' Dave got a surfboard."

Francesco Chicchi wins Stage 4. He completed the 121.5-mile ride from San Jose to Modesto in 4 hours, 55 minutes and 1 second. Chicchi rides for the Liquigas-Doimo team.

Peter Sagan of Slovakia, won Stage 5 in 4 hours, 52 minutes, 28 seconds. Thursday took riders on a 121.5 mile trip from Visalia to Bakersfield, through the San Joaquin Valley and into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Lance Armstrong (right) was forced to drop out of the eight day event after crashing just five miles into the race. The seven time Tour de France champion suffered a laceration under his eye and a severely bruised elbow due to the fall, but didn't have any breaks or fractures.

Next is Stage 6, or "Big Bear Climb," the most challenging stage of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California eight day event. The Queen Stage is from Pasadina to Big Bear Lake May 21, 2010. Getting to the finish line in Big Bear Lake is no easy task. The grueling route consists of 135 miles and more than 12,000 feet of climbing through mountain passes. Stage 6 should have a great impact on the overall standings of the race.

Peter Sagan wins Stage 6 (136.3 miles - 6.07:08) "I wanted to win a stage, and now I've won two. So I'm very happy."

Next is Saturday's Stage 7: Los Angeles is the not so picturesque course the organizers first envisioned at Venice Beach, but a 33.6km time trial (the longest in race history) over two laps of a circuit in downtown Los Angeles that will almost certainly determine who is going to win this year's Tour of California. The start and finish are at LA Live, the entertainment center that's the crown jewel of AEG, the race owner. With 20 turns on each lap, along with two short climbs, it's a TT course that demands good bike handling as well as outright strength.

Stage 7 winner Tony Martin. Tony Martin, who did an enormous amount of work for his HTC-Columbia team in Stage Six, somehow found the legs to turn in the best time in Stage Seven, the individual time trial, winning the stage with a time of 41:41.

Next is Sunday May 23, Stage 8: Called a circuit race it consists of an 83.5 circle through Thousand Oaks-Westlake Village-Agoura Hills. With the GC set after the time trial, this challenging finale will see the overall leaders marking each other, giving the lesser riders a chance at winning the stage. Four times up the infamous Rock Store climb will make this a race of attrition, much like a world road championship.

Michael Rogers (USA) of HTC-Columbia won Stage 8, and  was crowned champion of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California. After eight challenging and epic days of cycling that covered more than 800 miles of scenic California roads, and a thrilling fight to the finish.  With a week-long total time of 33 hours, 8 minutes and 30 seconds, Rogers took the highly coveted title of race champion in front of enormous cheering crowds in Thousand Oaks, home to title sponsor Amgen, besting his third place finish in the 2009 race. In an eight-day battle against the best field ever assembled to compete in the United States, which included Tour de France winners, Olympic medalists and World Champions, Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin-Transitions claimed the Stage 8 win.

Garmin Transition riders celebrating with champagne after winning team classification in Thousand Oaks. "For our team the only race that's more important than the Amgen Tour of California is the Tour de France," said Rogers. "This is a huge result for us. We can really walk away from the Amgen Tour of California with smiles on our faces."

David Zabriskie (USA) of Garmin-Transitions finished in second place overall for the second consecutive year at 9 seconds behind Rogers, and three-time champion Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Team RadioShack finished third at 25 seconds behind. "The Amgen Tour of California finished on a spectacular high today," said Leipheimer. "The stage was phenomenal, the crowds were Tour de France-esque and you could really feel the excitement. I don't think we could ask for anything more for the last day of the Amgen Tour of California. In my opinion the Amgen Tour of California has grown exponentially quicker and bigger than any race in the history of cycling."

The final stage of America's largest cycling race consisted of four 21-mile circuits that took the riders through the communities of Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village and Agoura Hills, and  one challenging King of the Mountains (KOM) climb at about six miles in Mulholland Hwy, or better known by local cyclists as the "Rock Store Climb" (Cat. 3/4 - 1,824 ft.). Regarded as one of the most scenic climbs in southern California, Mulholland Highway featured steep climbs and numerous switchbacks, which made it perfect  for crowds of spectators. Stage 8 tested the cyclists until the final stretch to the finish line.

Total distance of the entire Amgen Tour of California is 804.4 miles.