Riders’ Final Thoughts

Posted on 23. May, 2011 by in race

Here are some final riders’ thoughts from the Amgen Tour of California that we found were too good not to share.

Overall winner Chris Horner (Radioshack) was stoked

Overall winner Chris Horner (Radioshack) was stoked

Overall winner, Chris Horner (Radioshack)

“It’s fantastic. I’ve done this race every year that they’ve had it, with Lotto, then with Astana, helping Levi win many times, and it’s fabulous to be teammates with Levi, coming back to Cali, having the summit finishes. In the years past, without the summit finishes it made it difficult to focus on for me and as soon as they added the summit finishes, it really made it a goal, a possibility. You have such time trial specialist with Zabriskie who can put so much time into guys and Levi, of course, who is normally putting two minutes in on everyone with his time trial ability so Radioshack came in with just a great squad, I knew Levi would be one hundred percent, I was coming one hundred percent and we had some great help.”

“I also want to say, the crowds throughout every stage in California was absolutely amazing, the summit finish at Sierra, the summit finish at Mt Baldy were epic. I’ve said since year one at the Tour of California, if you want to be compared to the Grand Tours you really want to bring a Grand Tour to the US, the fans have to come out in full force and they did on each of the mountain stages, this is a stepping stone, finally a race, a big race, as come to America with a great stepping stone to bring us into one of the Grand Tours stages.”

“The whole day was nostalgia, I’ve done so much training up here, so many times coming up and staying up for the weekend and training with the NutraFig guys as early as 94 or 93, something that goes way back, maybe it’s been as early as 91 even. To do the Simi ride with all the roads around here, the two big climbs we did today were all part of the Simi ride loop ending here in Thousand Oaks; we passed through here every Saturday when we were doing that ride and we got 140 guys out there when I was 20 years old or something, so a long of time has passed since I’ve been in this neighborhood but I’ve really built my career training here and racing in and around. As most of the people know in this area, there’s not a lot of racing in the San Diego area, most of it is in the Los Angeles area, so whether you’re racing in the Thousand Oaks area or all the way over on the San Bernadino side, the whole SoCal area has really been my stomping grounds from the time I was a kid until now, it was very very nostalgia riding through these roads. I just was having a grin from ear to ear the whole time today, I was never stressed about the jersey or stressed about what you have to do, I was just going through my head the whole time just the time spent on the Simi ride and all the friends and riders that I’ve met along my career and have built through these roads.”

“Pretty much my racing age is 40 and so, I see no time in the near future that I plan on retiring, certainly my contract is up this year and my next contract will be for at least two years and I will take it year by year of course after that. But I believe there’s at least five good years left in my legs and I don’t think I’ll stop anymore after that, I just might not be full-time in Europe.”

Watch video with Horner prior in Tahoe prior to race start.

2nd overall, Levi Leipheimer (Radioshack)

“I think the Amgen Tour of California, I’ve always said it, it’s unprecedented in its growth in popularity, we’re in the 6th edition now and it just keeps getting bigger and better. I think yesterday’s stage proved that because it was as big and epic and beautiful of a stage that you’ll see anywhere in the world, in the Alps, the Pyrenees or the Dolomites. Mt Baldy was tough, it was high, the crowd was thick, you could have been in the Tour de France, you could have been in the Giro, you didn’t know that you near Los Angeles, California. Proud to be the first winner of Mt Baldy.”

3rd overall, Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo)

Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo) and his son on the final day

Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo) and his son on the final day

“First of all, I’d like to just say that it was an honor today standing on the podium with Chris and Levi. I started my career with Chris on Saturn and then I joined Discovery Channel with Levi and I learned a lot from both of these guys. I wouldn’t be half the rider I am today without racing with these guys. It was really great today standing up there with them, I wasn’t as good as them in this race but I really enjoyed racing for third place and then being able to celebrate today up there with those guys. Earlier this race, somebody asked me, ‘is it going to be an advantage to you that you know both these guys, that you’ve been teammates with them?’ and I said, actually it’s a disadvantage because I know how meticulous they are and how good they are and how well trained they are and how good their teammates are.”

“That being said, Garmin-Cervelo did a great job this week, we definitely gave Radioshack a run for their money, they had to be alert and be attentive and had to work hard, we saw that yesterday with putting Ryder in the breakaway. Ryder did a great job all week, being that wildcard and putting the pressure on. Winning the team GC, that’s really the icing on the cake for us, we definitely had a very, very good team here with a lot of potential winners, everybody did a great job, nobody dropped the ball at any point, everybody was strong and we’re really proud to have done such a good race here at the Amgen Tour of California.”

Luca Damiani (Kenda/5-Hour Energy) who crashed hard on stage 3

“It’s hard. I feel a little bit like I’m only participating right now but to be here and stay on the wheel of these guys is awesome.”

“I’m definitely prepared hundred percent right. It’s just like the first experience with a big field and there are many things, it’s not just about being strong, [it's about] positioning in the field, all mental preparation for the race, there are many things involved, not just having good legs.”

Tom Zirbel (Jamis/Sutter Home).

“It’s been a good reminder of how this sport is a roller coaster. The valleys are so low and the peaks are so high. I have already experienced that here at this race. Overall I am super glad to be fitting in with the new team. It was fun to show a bit of form yesterday on Mt. Baldy. I thought my form was there but you are never sure until you do it. It was simply a good day for me after a very disappointing time trial. It’s looking good for the rest of the year. We had some good results here. It’s been fun to be a part of that.”

Ken Hanson (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda)

Ken Hanson (Jelly Belly)

Ken Hanson (Jelly Belly)

“I think for every rider it’s a bit bittersweet. It’s nice to finish out a tour and be done with it but we’re all here because we love it, no matter how much we complain or suffer and bike racers are pretty good at complaining but we love it. You miss the camaraderie, I don’t know what the word for it is, but you’re kind of at ownership of it with the other riders, it’s like a brotherhood so you miss that when you go home. It obviously takes a little while to decompress, it’s such a big race and it’s such a big build up for it. Everyone is excited for it to be over with but disappointed mostly. Yesterday was tough for everybody, the guys who are winning it, they’re hurting just as bad as me but they’re just hurting a lot faster (laughs) so everyone is relieved for it to be over but it’s still disappointing.”

“Yesterday was tough, I still think at least for me, the day that we went to Paso Robles was the hardest stage of any Tour of California I’ve done. Just because we raced so hard in the last 20 kilometers, it was hot and it was just hard. Maybe it’s me, maybe other guys don’t feel that same way, it was the hardest for sure.”

“From a rider, I’d like to congratulate Horner. I think he’s probably the most under-rated American cyclist of our generation and he’s a really good guy and I think it’s nice to see him win a big race because he’s always in a role where he’s helping others win. You want to see someone like that, because he’s certainly at the twilight of his career and I think everyone in the peloton, and especially guys on our team, we’re really happy with his win, he deserves it.”

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One Response to “Riders’ Final Thoughts”

  1. Jovan Rodriguez

    24. May, 2011

    Great article. This years Amgen was awesome. Mt Baldy was epic. I hope they mix more Mts in next year! Keep up the great work PodiumInsight