Nevada a leg up for Tour of California |

Nevada a leg up for Tour of California

by Bill Rozak
A group of male racers work their way across Foothill Rd. before starting the climb up Kingsbury Grade Friday during the Amgen Tour of California.
Brad Coman

It might have been the Tour of California, but Nevada figured prominently in the Amgen bicycle race on Friday.

The women cyclists and their escorts rode into Carson Valley around 1 p.m. Friday, closing Foothill Road and Kingsbury Grade. The men crossed the stateline in a brief shower not far behind them.

Steve Jankowski and Laurie Daniel made sure they arrived early Friday morning to watch the cyclists crest Daggett Summit on Kingsbury Grade and enter the Lake Tahoe Basin.

They sat in folding chairs and ate a Subway lunch on a folding table under mostly sunny skies as they waited for the women riders and, ultimately, the men.

“We follow the tour every year,” said Jankowski, who splits time between Tahoma on the West Shore and Santa Cruz. “When we can, we get out on the course and watch the race.”

Reno residents Leo and Cheri Legorburu also arrived early on Daggett Summit and were looking forward to watching the peloton power up the steep grade.

“We’re gonna see the king of the mountain,” said Leo. “We like bike racing and thought it would be a nice afternoon. It’s a beautiful day.”

The Legorburus, Jankowski and Daniel all were on hand a few years ago when the Tahoe stage of the race was canceled due to snow. They were excited because weather was no threat Friday.

“That year we saw some guy walking down the street past our house, he was carrying a lawn chair and walking in 6 inches of snow going to find his spot,” Daniel said. “It’s like ‘dude, it was canceled.’”

There was no snow this year.

The Tour of California at Heavenly Mountain Resort’s California Lodge was hopping with energy at 11 a.m. as the women headed out for Stage 2 of their race, a 70-mile loop out of Tahoe on California Route 89 and back into the basin via Kingsbury Grade.

As the women pedaled up and over Daggett Summit (elevation 7,334 feet), the large contingent of fans cheered, yelled, blew their horns and rang their cowbells. There were dozens of cyclists who rode to the top of Daggett to watch the race.

The men followed about an hour later to more applause and fans in costume chasing the riders up the hill. A man was wearing a helmet with long horns protruding from each side. He ran with the riders while holding an American flag. A couple of riders even gave him a fist bump.

The cookie monster also was there, handing out miniature cookies to riders as they passed.

Another man dressed in an American flag full body costume ran alongside riders.

It was a party at the top of the mountain.

The riders were pretty spread apart by the time they reached Daggett Summit.

Egan Bernal was first to reach the summit and pedaled into first place overall by winning the stage, a 123-mile route from Folsom to South Lake Tahoe. He grabbed the lead from American Tejay van Garderen with the final stage looming in Sacramento Saturday.

A pair of California riders, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling’s Katie Hall of Oakland, and Trek-Drops’ Tayler Wiles of Fairfax jumped out of the pack with about five miles to go in Friday’s leg, with Hall ultimately pulling ahead to a victory, which she also claimed last year.

Three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Kristin Armstrong spoke to students at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School on Friday morning.

Armstrong is an Amgen Tour of California Race Ambassador this year.