We caught up with a few riders to get their thoughts at the start of stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California in Santa Rosa, California.
George Hincapie (BMC Racing Team)
I am excited about starting it off. This is a big race in the US and it feels great to race in my home country. We get to show the Euros what it’s like to race in America. I hope that Tejay (Van Garderen) can win. We are all here behind him.
Yukihiro Doi (Team Argos-Shimano)
I am very happy and excited to be here. This is not my first time in California. This is actually my second time. I was here nine years ago racing.
Robert Gesink (Rabobank Cycling Team)
I am feeling good. I am on my way recovering from a broken leg. I am getting better and better. I did not have any pain so I can keep training. I feel really positive about getting better results. Last week was really good. I did not do Baldy but I rode Big Bear in training earlier when I was here on holiday. Both stages will be hard. It’s a difficult Tour of California this year.
Tom Zirbel (Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
This race has been a big goal for the season. We are very excited to finally be here at the start line. I am happy to say that we are all healthy for the first time all year. We have had a lot of bad luck with sickness. I have ridden the TT course in Bakersfield a couple of times. It’s a hard course but I like it. The course finishes on a climb, which will be difficult for me. I’ll lose some time there but the course will be good for me. This is a good course for Scott (Zwizanski) as well. There are four days of racing before the TT. I am definitely not just looking at the TT. I am excited to be here.
Michael Creed (Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
The team is strong this year. We have a lot of options. We have (Ken) Hanson…more of a pure sprinter. It’s not all about the breaks. We have Sebastian Salas, is a new guy on the block who is climbing exceptionally well. We definitely have more weapons this year. If the opportunity comes up for me to take then I will definitely take it but I am here to help my team. I can help position the team for a sprint and I can climb and help out Salas too
Freddie Rodriguez (Team Exergy)
For us it has been exciting everyday. The goal is to get me over the climbs so that I can be there at the finish and give it shot for the win. I feel confident. It’s kind of a comeback for me. I took a year and a half off cycling. The motivation is pretty big on the team and every day will be a beautiful day. Today’s a good stage for me. The stage riding into Livermore looks good. Livermore is right in my back yard. Mt. Diablo is my local mountain that I ride almost everyday. Clovis looks good too. I just know that if I get over those hills I have a shot at winning.
Andrew Talansky (Garmin Barracuda)
The goal of my team Garmin is to win the race. It does not matter with who…Tom Danielson, Dave Zabriskie or myself. Starting here is pretty incredible. This is as close as I can get to home roads…living in Napa. I am looking forward to racing today. It ‘s been a whirlwind two years with Garmin and I have enjoyed every moment of it.
Victor Hugo Pena (Colombia-Coldeportes)
This is a climber’s race. We have a good team of climbers so we shall see how it goes. We are happy to be here racing.
Ted King (Liquigas-Cannondale)
We are not starting with a prologue. It’s going to be a good start from the get go. I am familiar with this area. Up in the north part of the course there are back-to-back-to-back hill climbs. They are all short and punchy. It should not separate things but Coleman will definitely separate the pure sprinters from the guys who can get over the hills. It’s a long way to the finish but then it’s a drag race. My team is coming here with some power. There is a lot of pressure on us to win.
Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep)
Today is a hard stage for a first stage. We checked out the course on the second day we were here. It was pretty brutal. If I am in shape, it’s a stage where I can compete for the win. Today we shall see what kind of shape I am in. I took another look at the stages and I think I have a chance is three stages. The last stage will be a kamikaze stage because it is short and the Americans are specialists on that type of course. It will be difficult and fun.