SPECIAL REPORT BY ERIC JELLUM, KELLY BENEFITS
TOUR OF CALIFORNIA UPDATE
May 21, 2011 Amgen Tour of California
Stories from Car 2
As I talked about in the last story
, there are 2 team cars that drive in the caravan as support. For stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California I was going to be riding in team car 2. For the most part riding in team car 2, can be a very mellow experience. During stage 4, we were still driving in position number 10, but instead of being only 10 cars behind the field, we are more likely to be behind 40 or so cars.
At the front of the race caravan there is always a commissar, a medical car (in case of crashes) and sometime a neutral support car. Then the race caravan starts with best placing team in first position and ending all the way back at 18th position. Then the caravan order starts all over again with the team’s second supporting car. Being in the second supporting team car you may never see the bike race. With all the other team cars, commissar cars neutral cars and medical cars, it can be a long way back from the action.
On stage 4 though, Jesse Anthony got into a breakaway that gained 1 minute over the peloton. No team support cars are allowed to be in between the breakaway and main peloton if the time is less then one minute. Once Jesse’s breakaway group got up to one minute ahead of the main field, we talked to the director in car 1 (Jonas Carney). Our other support cars pulled over to the side of the road to put Jesses spare bike on our cars roof and also we grabbed his rain bag. At this time we raced to front of the race caravan to ask for permission to drive around the main peloton and support our rider in the break.
It's never easy trying to drive around a group of a 150 cyclist who are taking up every inch of the road, but with a little driving on the shoulder and a little luck we pass the main peloton safely. Once up the road, the director will be able to talk directly to the rider in the break away and they will assess the situation. As for me I just need to make sure if anything happens I can help this single rider, if it’s a wheel change or a bike change.
Once we are up the road we are pretty close to the action. If only a few riders break away that means there are only a handful of support cars in front of us, so we have a good view. The team that was in the leader’s jersey (Radio Shack) was not giving to much of a leash to this particular break away and we were only in front of the race for about 35 miles, before the gap between the 2 groups dropped below a minute. At the time one of the big climbs started and we slotted back in our position back in the way back of the caravan.
Once the race started to break apart on this steep climb we just support the riders who have fallen off the pace. We sometimes will come across the finish line 25 minutes behind team car 1. It's a good day when a rider gets in the break away in car 2. It's keeps it a little more exciting.
Now back to washing and tuning.