May 19, Stage 8: San Francisco – Santa Rosa 130.4km

Final stage of the Tour of California! Got to see just a bit of this stage, in particular enough of the sprint. They did show Sagan and Farrar, though the riders were specs on the screen, there was enough of a view (2-3 rpm with any luck) of Peter Sagan (Svk) displaying a very compact TPR skill set to win the stage. On the other hand Tyler Farrar’s (USA) skill set appeared a labored and choppy SBHH (a view from the stratosphere and confounded with the head weave), this demands a closer and better look, which we were able to enjoy a day or two ago as he rejoined the breakaway. So, we do know the skill set is good, very good, just haven’t captured a full view during a sprint. A pity that viewers don’t get a skill set play by play during the commentary, which would elevate the quality of the broadcast tremendously, though that would take away from the emphasis on the shiny objects (they do pay the bills and make the event possible). Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) once again is featuring in the top 10 of these sprints, I didn’t think he looked at himself as a sprinter, perhaps he is looking out for Gianni Meersman (Bel) with the leadout train in Italy right now.

May 18, Stage 7: Livermore – Mt. Diablo 147 km

Janier Alexis Acevedo Colle (Col) accomplishes his task of moving up in the standings. His movement skill, the SBHH, extremely compact given the steepness of the terrain. You could almost feel the hike motion attempting to grab a hold of the upstroke and drive that leg. Another compact performance was that of Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa), not your typical movement skill set, off saddle as well as seated. That performance would be worthwhile videotape and dissect what he does. As he has done well in the US these past 2 seasons.

Carter Jones (USA) wins the Mountains jersey and he is all spent, bouncing up and down, attempting to get something out of the engine room. Scotty needs a few hours of repairs.

May 17, Stage 6: San Jose (ITT) 31.6km

The best showing was left to Tejay van Garderen (USA), the performance personified the definition of the TPR. Torso and pelvis working in unison on a roll motion, just like I wrote it. Amazing! There are a few details of the movement as he went uphill which I may leave for another time. Well, you may find answers to those in the collection. Janier Alexis Acevedo Colle (Col) changed bikes for the climb, it did work for him as he had the fastest climb, but had lost time up to that point. Nevertheless, a compact SBHH motion. Towards the finish (I think) took advantage of the SBHH, off saddle climbing, which is quite a challenge, especially with the low handlebar placement. I did mention you can learn these skills as well, right? What does your performance really look like?

Remarkable was Jens Voigt (Ger) (who else). The camera is directly behind him and you can see him perform the skill set within a very narrow box in space, the bike moving side to side. Contrast this to what most (non-elite) riders do, which is move side to side as well as up down (mostly the latter).

Disappointed, that nothing was shown of the ladies performance, other than Amber Neben’s impact with the mountain (mountain generally wins). Surely, those performances deserve better.

May 16, Stage 5: Santa Barbara – Avila Beach 186km

Very interesting stage, amazing what a cross wind can do, and each time several teams are caught by surprise even though they are familiar with the terrain. As the peloton rolls along, skills are in evidence in less demanding situations, all the time.

At 54 km to go, Jens Voigt (Ger) ups the pace after a change in direction and several echelons form. Acevedo gets caught behind and displays a very good hike motion, plus what appears as a roll motion of the lower torso. Panic. Tyler Farrar (USA) had the misfortune of a flat tire, this was good for us, we have a good look at his movement skills as he rejoins the lead group. By the way, he performs a very active and clear Roll-hike motion, hadn’t quite seen that before. The break is quite cohesive, most riders working, and Voigt doing a good share. He attacks with 4.6 km to go, which is remarkable given all the work in the breakaway, and a very good and animated SBHH overall motion. How does he do it? He will say it’s the legs: Not so, he is selling himself short.

That was a heavy duty breakaway, most of the time these don’t work, but on this occasion many of the riders had much to gain in terms of GC (Tejay van Garderen (USA), Michael Rogers (Aus), Matthew Busche (USA) and Cameron Meyer (Aus)) and a stage win (with teammates to support). Biggest losers Janier Acevedo (Col) and Philip Deignan (Irl), guess which teams were chasing.

May 15, Stage 4: Santa Clarita – Santa Barbara 134.5km

Marsh Cooper (Can) performing an excellent seated-SBHH though the skill set did not look quite as clear a bit later on an off saddle acceleration, which may have had a greater element of rotation. Chad Beyer (USA) also displayed an SBHH while seated and a Roll motion off saddle. This of course depends on where the camera is located as far as which movement skill is more apparent.

With 16-12 km to go on the downhill, Tim Duggan (USA) with a brief TPR movement pattern. Later on at the 12 km mark, Jens Voigt (Ger) attempting to disrupt things a bit with a very good SBHH-hands on the drops, an excellent break from the field. He did get quite a nice gap and the next thing you know, they are all assembled once again, Sagan among the first to do so. I did catch a technical detail Cannondale used to assemble the team with 6.4 km to go, and then the concept of the sweeper by placing a teammate on the sprinter’s wheel and preventing someone from gaining a free ride. On the final sprint Peter Sagan seemed rather tentative within the group; he had a teammate in front and did not engage until too late. Once again the helicopter view was traded in for a front view in the final 200 m, which from my view point is the only reason to watch the presentation. Would have liked to have a good view of Tyler Farrar (USA) who tends to be inconsistent, though great result for him. Garmin lead in as a team, only to be swallowed up by other teams, he did seem to have teammates around him after that. Surprisingly, Sylvian Chavanel (Fra) has been figuring prominently in the sprints, is he looking to surprise others or preparing for a breakaway sprint at the Tour de France? Did Gianni Meersman (Bel) do a wheelie right at the line? Not as dramatic as Sagan’s.

May 14, Stage 3: Palmdale – Santa Clarita 177.7km

Limited features of skill sets to report. Especially with the camera in front of the group. Peter Sagan (Svk) appearing comfortable within the group. 10 km to go. With the wide roads teams are lined up side by side, including United Healthcare (no need to use the sidewalks). One rider appeared to have a touch of wheels in the middle of the group, and everybody had enough space to scatter. On the sprint there is really not a good view of the skill sets, there was footage from the helicopter, and good ones at that, but the coverage only showed the riders as the riders crossed the line. And Sagan looks so relaxed and in control of the situation, not to mention being patient enough to find the opening. Michael Matthews (Aus) should have taken a look to his right; he must have thought he had the stage.

Stage 2: Murrieta – Greater Palm Springs 200km, May 13

Another hot day in California! With 18-20 km to go, the 4 man breakaway splits into pairs, with Scott Zwizanski (USA) trying to bring everybody together with a very active TPR. Doing a lot of work to catch Ben Jacques-Maynes, in time he would but may come to regret that effort on the upcoming climb.

As the final climb began, riders all over the road – shell shocked – not much life left in the bodies. Andy Schleck, initially well positioned but sliding back steadily. Way back was Lieuwe Westra (Ned) with arms extended and little left to give, bopping up and down. Philip Deignan (Irl) very impressive off saddle with the SBHH, very clear and nicely done. He would be caught by Janier Alexis Acevedo Colle (Col) and Tejay van Garderen (USA) but fought on valiantly to retain 3rd. Acevedo attacked Van Garderen a bit later without a response. Van Garderen is tough to figure out at times, as far as his skill set is concerned, as tough as it would be with Levi Leipheimer (who has yet to find a team this season). Did see Chad Haga (USA) with a very active SBHH off saddle. Good to see a few new faces performing well on a very tough day, a few more performances to follow!

If you had a good look at the skill sets on the final steep climb, and riders were off the saddle, they have a significant weight shift on the brake hoods, and they all exaggerate the skill set to match the demand for the most effective performance.

Tour of California, Stage 1: Escondido 165.1km May 12, 2013.

Tour of California, Stage 1: Escondido 165.1km May 12, 2013.

Welcome to the first stage at the Tour of California.

A hot day in southern California taking a toll on the climbs. 35 km to go and Phillipe Gilbert (Bel) is having a tough day at the office, he would rejoin the field with a solid SBHH (hands on the drops) only to be dropped yet again on the next climb. Nevertheless, his skill set remains a SBHH off the saddle, even though he loses contact. Andy Schleck (Lux) seemed to be riding with confidence and off saddle within the main group, though I did not get a good view of the skill set. Luis Romero Amaran (Cub) had a major wipeout late in the race, had a chance to take a look at his excellent skills at the NVGP a few years ago, hopefully he will be at the start line tomorrow. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) wins the race over Francisco Mancebo (Spa), Westra seemed to rely on the TPR for the sprint, while Mancebo more biased towards the SBHH. The camera views were not particularly close to appreciate the full extent of their skill set. They both seemed to work well and were rewarded with a good placing.