It took some of the world’s top cyclists more than four-and-a-half hours to race a grueling mountain route from Davis to Santa Rosa in drenching rain. Monday's second stage of the Tour of California ended with an Australian – Brett Lancaster – atop the pack. He’ll wear the yellow leader’s jersey Tuesday for the start of Stage Three. On Monday, the rain held off just long enough for a nice, clean start in downtown Davis.
Davis hosted the start of the same stage last year too, but that one was a mess. Pouring rain kept all but the hardest-core cycling fans indoors. This year? Well, take a listen …
Countdown to start of race: “Three, two, one!” (fake gun shot, then cheers)
Authorities don’t have a crowd estimate yet, but anecdotally? Just ask one of the few people who DID show up last year, Laney Mangney of Davis, who was back to watch once again.
Mangney: “Last time, it was on a weekend but there weren’t this many people here. But I guess a lot of people are taking the day off – and the weather is much better.”
Crowds three people deep lined up near the starting line, along C Street next to Central Park. Others spread out through downtown to catch a glimpse of the riders before they headed out towards Santa Rosa.
It was a good day for Davis restaurants and stores – and also the brand-new U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, just around the corner from the starting line. The Hall had its grand opening in Davis last month after moving all the way from New Jersey. Board member Matt Dulcich:
Dulcich: “Today is a really exciting day for us. We’re finding that people across the country are really energized about our opening and about their opportunity to see the history of cycling in this building.”
Back outdoors, on the other side of the park from the start line, Ryan Malm was hanging out near the team trailers, where crews pump air into tires and riders sometimes poke their heads out to warm up and say hi. Malm was wearing a Davis Bike Club jersey and says he’s biked the exact Stage Two route himself.
Malm: “There’s a lot of climbing early that’s gonna soften up their legs a little bit. And then the big stuff’s gonna hit in Oakville, right towards the end of the stage. And so that’s gonna be really difficult.”
Ben: “Could you ever ride it as fast as they ride it?”
Malm: “No, no chance. I could hang on the back until it started going uphill, and then I’m done.”
Malm says he’s glad race organizers moved the Tour to May this year because the weather’s better – Monday’s rain notwithstanding. And compared with last year, as far as Davis is concerned, the light drizzle at Monday’s start might as well have been blinding sunshine.