I had seen Lance race earlier this year in two legs of the Tour of California (Sacramento and Solvang respectively). Although it was great to see him riding
again, he didn’t seem like the dominant force he was back in the day.
Galleries from both of those races are in the Mesomorphic album here.
Watching Lance at that time was more entertaining than serious racing. Don’t get me wrong, he was still a lot faster than many of the other riders on those courses, but he wasn’t even close to matching Levi Leipheimer’s performance. To be serious, I thought he was more about promoting cancer awareness.
I figured it would be more of the same this time around.
I was sorely mistaken.
The Lance that showed on in Nevada City was a different man. He was noticeably stronger. And the man was a monster on his bike. For the first 25 laps he rode with Levi trading off first position almost every lap. But there was a point at about the 30th lap where he just changed. Anyone there paying only minor attention would have surely have seen it.
Suddenly, he was throwing his bike back and forth as if he were hell bent on a mission. An older gentleman that was standing beside me looked at me and said, “What just happened?” The next time he came around he was clearly separated from the paladin.
From that point each successive lap the distance only grew and I was blown away when about three laps later he was all by himself and the rest of the group was out of site.
At the end of the race while they were interviewing Lance the emcee asked, “What inspired you today Lance?” And he answered (this is from memory so forgive me if it isn’t perfectly accurate), “I don’t know. The crowd was just electric. And there was the smell of the barbeque and the beer and the smell of something else I can’t talk about here.”
The crowd laughed. Nevada City. What can you say?It was a great race.
See the Nevada City Classic gallery here.
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