Roadbook: Starts and Finishes
Think of what it feels like to be a fan of professional road-bike racing: You spend your winter speculating about what will happen ‘next year’, when the heroes of the Flemish Ardennes finally get to hit the cobblestones again—cobblestones that are so perfectly recycled in a huge handful of Spring Classics and Semi-Classics.
You then move to the small stage races and then the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. You revel in the build-up, the bikes, the hype and prognostication. For most, riders included, the finish on the Champs Elysees is mostly equal parts relief and letdown.
Though the AMGEN Tour of California lacks the history of the great European cycling events, the excitement this event brings to the fans that have come to the Golden State is just as palpable.
Here, in Sacramento, the women finish their tour and the men start. It’s a mixed bag of excitement and letdown. Traveling, en masse, with an extended group of people trying to achieve goals based around one thing tends to turn strangers into family—and we have become more connected to the riders SRAM supports because of it.
So when the reigning Olympic road race champion Anna van der Breggen collects the overall AMGEN Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race—Empowered with SRAM victory for the Boels-Dolmans team, it means a little bit more to us than had it just been anyone.
And likewise, when Alexander Kristoff and his Katusha lead-out squad can’t quite put everything together to take the opening-stage win for the men, we actually feel their disappointment.