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TOUR OF CALIFORNIA UPDATE- Stories from Car 1

SPECIAL REPORT BY ERIC JELLUM, KELLY BENEFITS
TOUR OF CALIFORNIA UPDATE
May 19, 2011 Amgen Tour of California

Here at the Amgen Tour of California The Kelly Benefit Strategies -Optum Health team will have 2 cars in the race caravan. Only UCI stage races of this caliber will allow this. Each team car will follow the race. Like I mentioned before the 3 mechanics here including myself will rotate between jobs of either riding in the back of team car 1 or 2, or taking care of luggage. For stage 3 it was my turn to ride in team car 1.
 
Riding in team car 1 for The Amgen Tour of California is not that much different than riding in a team car during any other race. My job stays the same. I'll handle wheel changes, bike changes for the racers and junk food distribution to staff members inside the team car. There are a few other duties I take care of while sitting in the passenger side backseat.
 
There was a chance of rain during stage 3. So each rider supplied a small rain bag, which we stash in the back of the station wagon. In the rain bag there are an extra pair of shoes, rain jacket, long finger gloves and some other items that particular rider may request during the stage. In the back of the wagon we will also carry some extra wheels (along with the set of wheels I have in the seat next to me) and a cooler filled with water bottles.
 
Each team is assigned a caravan number that is determined by the GC position of their best rider. On this day, we where car number 10 also all the team cars carry a "Tour Radio" the tour radio will have announcements from the commissair’s car that is located at the very front of the caravan. This is valuable, because we cannot see the front of the race all that well. "Tour Radio" will also announce if any team rider has a flat or a mechanical or if a crash has happened.
 
On most days when the route profile is flat and once the break gets some time on the main peloton we will hear over the radio what the riders numbers are of who is the in break away. I'll write the numbers down in my trusty notebook and translate those numbers to the actual riders in the break. I'll give all this information to the team director and also tell the director of the GC status of each rider.
 
On this day we had Michael Creed in the break away. We drove ahead and made a quick stop on the side of the road to hand off Michael’s spare bike and rain bag, From there, our car drove in front of the main peloton to support him. Once all that work is done you could say my job gets very boring. The pace of the race settles down quite a bit and we just drive behind the main peloton. Most people would say at this time the race is boring as there is not much going on. As a mechanic, I like it very much when it's "boring" if there is any excitement on my end of the race that means something has gone wrong.
 
For the most part of the day it was "boring". The Team Director and I filled the time talking about logistics for up coming races and even a little talk about college football.
 
The only action I saw on this day was when a rider’s front derailleur cable broke and he needed a bike change. The bike change takes about 30 seconds from when I jump out of the car to when I'm hopping back into the back seat. When a bike change happens usually the team director will help by grabbing the broken bicycle while I pull the fresh one from the roof of the car. This bike change went quite smoothly and with only 20 km to go in the race it was decided that we would
not try and fix the bike during the race.
 
All in all it was a "boring" day for me, just the way I like it. Back to the hotel for a quick wash and tune of all the bikes and team vehicles and we where ready for the next stage.
 
Eric J